Thousands of people are expected to descend on the town for the ceremony.
With the royal wedding months away, politicians in the United Kingdom are disputing whether to clear homeless people and beggars from the streets of Windsor before thousands of people descend on the town for the ceremony.
The controversial debate began when Simon Dudley, the council leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, called on police to crackdown on the homeless population before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wed at Windsor Castle on May 19.
In December, Dudley said on Twitter that “there is an epidemic of rough sleeping and vagrancy” in Windsor.
His statements have received mixed responses from other United Kingdom officials, namely Prime Minister Theresa May, the leader of the U.K.’s conservative party.
May said she disagreed with Dudley’s comments, adding that the council should work to provide accommodations for those who are homeless, according to the BBC. “Where there are issues of people who are aggressively begging on the streets then it’s important that council work with the police to deal with that aggressive begging,” she added. May is Maidenhead’s Member of Parliament.
In a letter to the police and crime commissioner of the Thames Valley Police, Dudley pointed to “aggressive begging and intimidation in Windsor” and noted initiatives in the Royal Borough of providing for the homeless people in their town with housing. Dudley claimed the beggars were either not homeless or were those who may be homeless and are rejecting accommodations provided to them.
“Obviously, the level of tourist interest is set to multiply with the Royal Wedding in 2018, and there are increased concerns from our residents about their safety,” he wrote. “The whole situation also presents a beautiful town in a sadly unfavorable light.”
Thames valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld, whom Dudley sent the letter to, told the BBC that homeless individuals are “very vulnerable” and battle mental health issues. “It’s not as easy as putting them in a police van and dumping them in Southall or somewhere,” he said, according to the BBC. “it’s much more complicated than that.”
Other critics of Dudley’s argument did not agree with the reasoning for his concern.
“If somebody is sleeping out on the street they are not there by choice; they are there because something has gone wrong,” Murphy James, manager of the Windsor Homeless Project, told BBC. He also told the BBC raising the issue because of the upcoming Royal Wedding was “sickening.”