The leader of Windsor council is facing a motion of no confidence for bringing the borough into disrepute over his call for police to clear rough sleepers from the streets before the royal wedding.
The opposition group on the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) has formally requested for a no confidence motion to be tabled after national attention on the historic borough, home to Windsor Castle, Eton College and Ascot racecourse.
Simon Dudley, the council leader, wrote to Thames Valley police last week to demand they use legal powers under the Vagrancy Act 1824 and the the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 against people sleeping on the streets and begging.
His letter followed a series of tweets posted while on a ski holiday in the US referring to “an epidemic of rough sleeping and vagrancy in Windsor” and saying “residents have had enough of this exploitation of residents and 6 million tourists pa [per annum]”.
Dudley’s actions were criticised by Theresa May, who is the MP for Maidenhead, and national and local homeless charities.
Lynne Jones, leader of the opposition on RBWM, said other councillors were not consulted or informed by Dudley about the contents of his letter, which was sent while he was on holiday.
“We still haven’t got any evidence-base for his claim that a ‘large number of adults’ begging in Windsor are not homeless. This is only anecdotal,” she said.
The claim was inflammatory, she added. “This is a very, very sensitive issue. Anything we say as a council on this must be measured and based on facts.”
The council’s efforts to tackle homelessness had been obliterated by Dudley’s call for police action before the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, she said. “It has brought the council into disrepute and will have consequences. There have already been calls to arms by activists on Twitter and Facebook.”
The opposition group on the council numbers only six out of a total of 57 councillors, meaning the motion stands little chance of being passed. “But this debate needs to happen,” said Jones, who suggested Dudley’s leadership was autocratic and overly reliant on Twitter as a means of communication.
She said she had spoken briefly to Dudley on Monday morning, but there had been no sign of contrition. “That’s not his style,” she said.
A request for comment from Dudley has been made.
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