British Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected calls to move homeless people out of Windsor ahead of the royal wedding later this year.
Leader of the local council Simon Dudley said rough sleepers and beggars were harming the town’s reputation with tourists and he wanted police to move them on.
Mr Dudley wrote to police, asking them to move on homeless people before May 19, when Prince Harry is due to marry Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle.
But Ms May said if councillors did not like seeing homeless people on the streets, they should find them a roof to sleep under.
She said any move to force out homeless people before the royal wedding would not have her support.
“Yes, I don’t agree with the comments that the leader of the council has made,” said Ms May, who is the MP for neighbouring Maidenhead.
“I think it is important that we, councils, work hard to ensure that they are proving accommodation for those people who are homeless.”
Many members of the royal family actively support homelessness charities, but none have yet made any public comment on the unfolding debate.
‘We’re all dreading what is going to happen’
Stuart, a Windsor man who is homeless, said he was worried about what could happen in the coming months.
“We all communicate, we’re all friends, we all know each other. We all think it’s a bad thing. We’re all dreading what is going to happen now,” he said.
But local lolly shopkeeper Ashni Thapar said he was concerned about what he saw as a growing issue.
“There’s been a large influence of these beggars coming in, and at the moment it’s becoming a bit of a nightmare,” he said.
Mr Dudley also said some of the rough sleepers and beggars were there by choice, having rejected support services.
But Murphy James from the Windsor Homeless Project said Mr Dudley was misinformed.
“He says there is a joint drug and alcohol and mental health service. There isn’t such a thing. If there was such a thing, we wouldn’t be in this predicament,” Mr James said.
“It’s just totally unwarranted to bring the royal wedding into this. This shouldn’t be a situation that’s hit the headlines because of a royal wedding.
“This is a situation that should hit the headlines because people are sleeping in bus shelters.”