Homelessness a shadow hiding within Windsor

Drive 18/05/2018

Over 100,000 people will flood the streets of Windsor to catch a glimpse of wedding celebrations or sheer excitement on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day.

But in the shadows of Windsor’s quaint streets lie people living without homes, who have faced scrutiny from a local councillor ahead of the Royal Wedding.

Murphy James from Windsor Homeless Project points out that many areas on the outskirts are deeply impoverished.

Mr James told Drive host Lisa Owen that “with great wealth, comes great poverty.”

“Windsor used to be synonymous with the castle, I think forever and always Windsor will be synonymous with homelessness.”

One Councillor wants the streets cleared before the wedding.

But Mr James told RadioLIVE that homelessness hasn’t necessarily increased over the years. It simply is more visible now that homeless people sleep in more public areas.

Simon Dudley, the leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council, tweeted that police should “to focus on dealing with [homelessness] before the #RoyalWedding”. His tweet drew fierce criticism from local homeless organisations and even Prime Minister Theresa May.

“I think it’s callous. I think the remarks were staggering, really. I think they belong in 1824 with the Vagrancy Act, which is what he was trying to get the police to use,” Mr James told RadioLIVE.

Photo: Windsor Homeless Project.

The Vagrancy Act makes it an offence to “sleep rough or beg”. The law remains in force in England and Wales, making it possible for anyone found sleeping in public trying to beg to be arrested.

“It’s against human rights. You can’t tell somebody where they can and can’t stand. That went with racism a long time ago.

“You can’t say to somebody ‘you can’t stand there because you don’t have a home’.”

Listen to the full interview with Murphy James above.

Drive with Ryan Bridge and Lisa Owen, 3pm - 6pm Weekdays and streaming live on'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.