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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Windsor councillors leave Tory group over homelessness row” was written by Patrick Greenfield, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 23rd January 2018 19.12 UTC

Two councillors from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead have quit the local authority’s Conservative party group in protest after the council leader demanded the area to be cleared of homeless people before the royal wedding in May.

Simon Dudley, the council’s Conservative leader, was widely criticised for asking to Thames Valley police to take action against “aggressive begging and intimidation” and “bags and detritus” in the street.

Dudley survived a no-confidence vote held by the local authority’s Conservatives on Monday evening, which prompted the resignations of the Tory councillors Paul Brimacombe and Asghar Majeed.

The opposition group in the Tory-controlled council is expected to hold a no-confidence vote on 29 January.

“Immediately following the announcement of the result of the no-confidence vote, Councillor Majeed and Councillor Brimacombe resigned from the Conservative group and departed the meeting,” the remaining Tory councillors said in a joint statement.

“It was not considered appropriate by them to wholeheartedly disagree with the will of the group on this fundamental issue and yet to remain within the group. With the departure of the last of the few dissenting voices within the Conservative group, possibly an even more cohesive and purposeful Conservative group will emerge.

“Councillors Majeed and Brimacombe will continue to represent the residents of Oldfield and Cox Green respectively as independent Conservative councillors, with the same core values upon which they were elected.”

More than 270,000 people have signed a petition in opposition to Dudley’s letter to the police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, in which he claimed the council had evidence that homelessness was “a voluntary choice” for some people in the borough.

“A large number of adults that are begging in Windsor are not in fact homeless, and if they are homeless they are choosing to reject all support services,” he wrote.

The council leader has since apologised for the comments he made in the letter, insisting that he was not referring to genuine homeless people, and said he lamented the reference to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding on 19 May.

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