In Depth

Windsor councillor calls for crackdown on homeless before royal wedding

Outrage as Simon Dudley urges police action to tackle ‘epidemic’ that paints town in ‘unfavourable light’

The leader of Windsor council has faced a powerful online backlash after calling for a clampdown on the royal borough’s homeless population before the royal wedding.

Conservative councillor Simon Dudley was branded ‘abhorrent’ and out of touch for the remarks, which he tweeted from a Christmas skiing holiday in the US.

In a letter sent to Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld on Tuesday, Dudley set out the supposedly ample resources currently available to Windsor’s rough sleepers, whom he said “present a beautiful town in a sadly unfavourable light”.

With all eyes on Windsor in May for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Dudley argued that stricter enforcement of anti-vagrancy and anti-begging legislation was necessary in light of “the special context and security profile of the town”.

The comments were picked up by several news outlets and quickly generated a backlash as social media users criticised Dudley’s attitude as an attempt to sweep the pressing issue of homelessness under the carpet to create a fairytale backdrop for the royal wedding:

Leading barrister and founder of the Good Law Project Jo Maugham QC drew on the Bible to highlight the uncharitable attitude of the comments:

While others called for protests on the day of the wedding:

“Stigmatising or punishing [rough sleepers] is totally counterproductive,” Greg Beales of housing charity Shelter told The Guardian. “They desperately need our help, support and advice to move off the streets into safety and, eventually, into a home.”

However, some Windsor residents defended Dudley’s comments, saying they were a realistic reflection of a growing problem in the royal borough:

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