'Plans to fine rough sleepers ahead of Royal wedding in Windsor dropped'

'Plans to fine rough sleepers ahead of Royal wedding in Windsor dropped'

The council leader had said rough sleepers would show Windsor unfavourably

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has dropped plans to issue rough sleepers with fines if they refuse to engage with services, a campaigner has claimed.

A petition of more than 280,000 signatures was handed to council leader Simon Dudley yesterday (February 15) asking the council to drop plans to clear homeless people from the streets ahead of the royal wedding in May.

Dudley came under fierce criticism last month after he remarked that the number of rough sleepers would put Windsor in a "sadly unfavourable light" when it hosts Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's nuptials, which will be televised around the world.

Harry is due to marry the Suits actress at Windsor Castle on May 19.

The embattled council leader survived a vote of no confidence, and now the council is preparing a consultation to try and get the borough's 14 or so long-term rough sleepers off the streets.

Proposals include increasing the support available to those sleeping rough, with a 56-day window to get them into accommodation and support services for issues such as addiction and mental health.

Initial plans said that those who refused to engage would then be issued with a Community Protection Notice requiring them to engage with services or face a fine of up to £100.

Yesterday (February 15) Holly Fishwick, a charity communications manager, presented Dudley with her petition titled "Stop Windsor Council Removing Rough Sleepers" which has attracted 281,090 signatures on the Change.org website.

Following her meeting with Dudley, Fishwick revealed that the council has now rolled back on its plans to issue fines.

She said the council had reconsidered following the public outcry the plan caused when the proposal for the Rough Sleeping and Anti-Social Behaviour report was published earlier this week.

Fishwick said: "Rough sleeping and anti-social behaviour conflates two very different issues. There will now be two separate reports, a homelessness report and an anti-social behaviour report, both coming out in March."

She also recommended more information for the public, telling them what to do to help homeless people, rather than a list of "do nots" such as not to give money.

Dudley was unavailable for comment.