Royal wedding: Theresa May joins Windsor begging row debate

From BBC - January 4, 2018

Theresa May has entered into the debate about "aggressive begging" in Windsor ahead of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

The prime minister said she disagreed with council leader Simon Dudley, who urged police to tackle the issue before the St George's Chapel ceremony on 19 May.

Mrs May said councils should "work with police" and ensure accommodation was provided for homeless people.

Mr Dudley has been asked for comment.

He had written that beggars could present the town in a "sadly unfavourable light" ahead of the royal wedding.

Asked about his remarks during a visit to a hospital in nearby Camberley, Mrs May said:"I do not agree with the comments that the leader of the council has made."

Mrs May, who is MP in the neighbouring constituency of Maidenhead, added: "Where there are issues of people who are aggressively begging on the streets then it's important that councils work with the police to deal with that aggressive begging."

Lord Bird, founder of the street newspaper, The Big Issue, said criminalising or temporarily moving rough sleepers was "not the answer".

"The young royals have a fantastic track record in addressing this issue," he said, "so I have no doubt that Harry and Meghan will be equally concerned that this issue is tackled in a way that creates real, and sustainable change in the lives of homeless people."

James, 35, who lives on the streets of Windsor, said: "[Mr Dudley] should come out and talk to the homeless and find out what their stories are before he makes those kind of accusations."

He said he did not believe there were aggressive beggars in the town, and that ultimately deciding to give money or not was up to the individual.

"It is not our choice to be homeless," he said. "Everyone has their own reasons, everyone has their own story."

Murphy James, of the Windsor Homeless Project, said the views expressed by Mr Dudley were "misinformed".

"It was totally unwarranted to bring the royal wedding into this," he added.


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