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Lib Dems call for Conservative Council leader to turn cheap words into action over homelessness

January 9, 2018 11:03 PM
By Gavin Weeks in Windsor Liberal Democrats

Conservative council leader Simon Dudley has embarassed Windsor in the eyes of the world with his unsubstantiated claims about criminal begging in Windsor town centre.

Homeless man sleeping rough.

Thames Valley Police have had no complaints regarding the type of incident Conservatives have suggested are happening in Windsor


Thames Valley Police have received no reports of tourists being 'marched' to cash machines and his comments have been disowned by his own local Conservative MP, the Prime Minister.

His sensationalist remarks have now led to a vote of no confidence. Regardless of the outcome of that vote we call on Mr Dudley to provide concrete evidence of the claims he has made or to retract them and issue a formal apology.

At the very least Mr Dudley should make absolutely clear that he understands that people sleep rough in Windsor for multiple and often complex reasons and use his considerable power as council leader to give help to people who need it. After all,

Murphy James of the Windsor Homeless Project has dismissed his claims of extensive available support for those sleeping rough as "pure fantasy". (1)

Liberal Democrats in Windsor agree with Greg Beales of Shelter, quoted in the Guardian: (2)

"Stigmatising or punishing [rough sleepers] is totally counterproductive. It is simplistic and wrong to claim that sleeping rough and relying on donations is a simple economic choice. Refusing help is sometimes part of a problem and not evidence of a 'lifestyle' choice, much as it might be convenient for Mr Dudley to see it this way."

Towards the end of October, the council held a meeting to discuss the issue of rough sleeping in the town centre (3). It is clearly not turning conversations into even short-term solutions.

Gavin Weeks, of Windsor Liberal Democrats, said,

"The council should immediately strengthen its approach to the homelessness problem by giving leadership of the strategy to local experts who understand the complexity of the issues. Instead of worrying about the image of Windsor when the royal wedding comes around, this would demonstrate that our council cares about these people's lives."

Sources:

  1. ITV News
  2. Guardian
  3. Windsor Observer