After the news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would wed at St George’s Chapel, Windsor in May this year, a local councillor was ashamed of the problem of rough sleepers around the town.
Last month, leader Simon Dudley suggested that the homeless put Windsor in a “sadly unfavourable light” when the world will turn their eyes to the town when they watch the wedding of the year.
The Windsor and Maidenhead Council has come up with a “robust strategy” to reduce the number of rough sleepers by the end of March. The proposal includes a £100 fine for leaving bedding in a public space and for begging.
After surveying a vote of no confidence, the council is working on a way to get Windsor’s approximately 14 long-term homeless people off the street by May according to the Evening Standard.
One proposal includes a 56-day window to help them find accommodation and support for mental health or addiction problems. A fine of £100 would be issued to anyone who refuses after they are given a Community Protection Notice.
The hope is that “aggressive or proactive begging” for example, near a cash machine, is “reasonably perceived to be intimidating or aggressive”.
Additional methods that are being discussed are a ban on all non-verbal, verbal or written money requests and leaving personal belongings or bedding in public.
Murphy James, from the Windsor Homeless Project, was critical of the plan of issuing fines to someone “who quite evidently, has no money”.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “Criminalise real criminals, not those that are forced into a situation by circumstance and left to survive. That is quite simply inhumane.”
Just yesterday, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited Social Bites in Edinburgh. The charity supplies food and drinks to the homeless in Scotland. Discussing the homeless problem across the UK, Harry said: “Everyone can be so focused on the wrong things. But… lift your head up and look around you. Walk around your city, see how many people are on the streets and do something to help them.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are doing, everyone can give back.”