May's hypocrisy over Windsor homeless comments

"It would be interesting to know exactly which part of Dudley's comments she disagrees with, given that just a few weeks ago the government was making a very similar argument in the high court"
"It would be interesting to know exactly which part of Dudley's comments she disagrees with, given that just a few weeks ago the government was making a very similar argument in the high court":
Natalie Bloomer By

There was uproar today after a council leader in Windsor called for a crackdown on rough sleepers before the royal wedding in May.

In a letter to Thames Valley Police, Tory councillor Simon Dudley spoke of "aggressive begging" and claimed that some rough sleepers had rejected help from local services and were therefore making "a voluntary choice". He went on to say:

"Obviously, the level of tourist interest is set to multiply with the royal wedding in May 2018...The whole situation also presents a beautiful town in a sadly unfavourable light."  

When asked about the comments, the prime minister said that she "did not agree" with the councillor.


"I think it is important that councils work hard to ensure that they are providing accommodation for those people who are homeless," May said. 

But it would be interesting to know exactly which part of Dudley's comments she disagrees with, given that just a few weeks ago the government was making a very similar argument in the high court.

A witness statement filed on behalf of the Home Office during a legal case against the deportation of EU rough sleepers said there had been "a surge" of people from less economically prosperous countries who were "intent on rough sleeping".

The statement went on to say that rough sleepers could damage the reputation of central London areas as a tourist destination and had an adverse impact on the amenities of residents and other visitors.

There is the same implication that some of those who sleep rough are doing so through choice rather than necessity and there is the same concern about the impact on tourism.

Murphy James from the Windsor Homeless Project today dismissed the idea rough sleepers choose to be on the streets.

"It is pure fantasy that an array of services are made available to people in order to make sure that they don’t return to homelessness," he wrote on Facebook. "If that were the case, organisations such as the Windsor Homeless Project would not exist."

May says she disagrees with Dudley. If that's really the case, she needs to take her Home Office legal team to task for the arguments they made at the high court. If it isn't, her statement this morning looks rather hypocritical.

Natalie Bloomer is a journalist for Politics.co.uk. You can follow her on twitter here.

The opinions in politics.co.uk's Comment and Analysis section are those of the author and are no reflection of the views of the website or its owners.

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