Windsor council proposes £100 fines for rough sleepers ahead of royal wedding

Tom Powell
The council has proposed a 'robust strategy' to reduce the number of homeless people on the streets: PA Wire

Rough sleepers could be fined up to £100 for begging or leaving their bedding in public areas ahead of the royal wedding in Windsor.

Windsor and Maidenhead Council has proposed a “robust strategy” to reduce the number of homeless people on the streets by the end of March.

The council came under fierce criticism last month when leader Simon Dudley said rough sleepers would put the town in a "sadly unfavourable light" when it hosts the wedding in May.

Mr Dudley survived a vote of no confidence, and now the council is preparing a consultation to try to get the borough's 14 or so long-term homeless people off the streets.

Proposals include increasing the support available to those sleeping rough, with a 56-day window to get them into accommodation and support services for issues such as addiction and mental health.

Simon Dudley survived a vote of no confidence at Maidenhead Town Hall (PA)

Those who refuse to engage would then be issued with a Community Protection Notice requiring them to engage with services or face a fine of up to £100.

It aims to target what it describes as "aggressive or proactive begging" such as begging near a cash machine or in a manner "reasonably perceived to be intimidating or aggressive".

Other proposals under consideration are banning any verbal, non-verbal or written requests for money, and leaving bedding, personal belongings and other material in public places.

Anyone caught urinating or defecating in a public place would also face a fine.

A spokesman for the council said that no date for the consultation to begin had been set, or for when any future strategy may start, but the proposals could be implemented within a matter of months.

The report said: "It is proposed that the strategy be developed quickly so that the benefits for the vulnerable individuals can be realised as soon as possible."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to tie the knot at Windsor Castle on May 19.

The report said any future strategy aimed "to both strengthen the current offer of support afforded to those rough sleeping, and at the same time ensuring there are consequences for those who behave antisocially and or fail to engage with support offered".

Prince Harry and Meghan Warkle will marry in the town on May 19 (Alexi Lubomirski)

It proposed a multi-agency approach including outreach workers, housing support officers and community wardens.

The spokesman said: "Every rough sleeper has complex and personal needs that we work to address on an individual basis.

"As part of the developing strategy we will look at what support is offered by the borough and other organisations."

Murphy James, from the Windsor Homeless Project, was sceptical of the plans or how the council proposed to fine someone "who quite evidently, has no money".

He told the BBC: "Criminalise real criminals, not those that are forced into a situation by circumstance and left to survive. That is quite simply inhumane."