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Council leader calls on police to clear rough sleepers before the royal wedding

A council leader has called on police to clear rough sleepers from Windsor before the royal wedding.

Conservative councillor Simon Dudley. Credit: PA

Conservative councillor Simon Dudley said beggars could present the town in a "sadly unfavourable light" when Prince Harry marries American actress Meghan Markle in May.

He tweeted that some rough sleepers had made a "commercial life choice praying on residents and tourists".

In a letter to police he complained about aggressive begging and intimidation and "bags and detritus" on the streets.

His comments were criticised by a local homeless charity manager, who described them as sickening.

It's absolutely abhorrent that anybody has got these views in this day and age, especially a lead councillor of the borough.

If somebody is sleeping out on the street they are not there by choice, they are there because something has gone wrong.

I went out on Christmas Day and there were 12 people laid out on Windsor High Street, they were not there by choice.

– Murphy James, of Windsor Homeless Project

Thousands of wellwishers are expected to descend on the town for the event in Windsor Castle on May 19.

Mr Dudley, leader of Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, tweeted that there is "an epidemic of rough sleeping and vagrancy" in the town and demanded police "focus on dealing with this before the #RoyalWedding".

Windsor Police tweeted in reply:

We need to protect the most vulnerable in society by working together but each agency must understand its own unique responsibilities. Housing is the responsibility of the council but it is better that agencies work together so people don't become homeless.

We deal with reports of begging proportionately but we have not had reports of anyone being marched to cashpoints to take out money.

– Windsor Police

Mr Dudley wrote a letter to Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley Police, Anthony Stansfeld, dated January 2, calling on officers to take action.