William Eichler 23 January 2018

Council ‘bemused’ by comedian’s homeless charity petition

Comedian Russell Brand has launched a petition calling on Slough council to provide a homelessness charity with a new building as a ‘wedding present’ for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

SHOC, a homeless drop in and assistance facility in Slough, needs to find new premises to operate from after they were, in Mr Brand’s words, ‘made homeless by Slough council’.

The comedian and political activist argues Slough should agree to a ‘change of use’ for a building in the town so that SHOC can have a new home. He claims it would ‘cost them nothing but the ink in the pen’.

Mr Brand has also drawn a connection between Slough’s decision and the controversial call from Windsor & Maidenhead leader Simon Dudley for the police to crack down on begging ahead of the royal wedding.

‘As a wedding present for Harry and Meghan and as a rebuke to the low frequency conduct of Cllr Dudley and any who would further victimise the vulnerable, we are asking that Slough Council agree to a "change of use" for a building in the town that will enable SHOC to have a new home,’ wrote Mr Brand.

‘It will cost them nothing but the ink in the pen to commit to a 'change of use' for this building - you know how easy it is to do that - councils have to do it every time they turn a local shop into a supermarket chain express store.

‘If you think this would be a great gift for the Royal Couple, a beautiful way to celebrate their love,’ he added.

A spokesperson for Slough Borough Council said they were ‘bemused’ by Mr Brand’s petition.

‘We are somewhat bemused by Mr Brand’s petition as it seems to stem from an issue in Windsor and, if he has such concerns over the fate of the homeless in Windsor, it may be better to petition the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead,’ they said.

‘We do not believe it is acceptable to merely sweep homeless people over the borough boundary and expect other areas to support them and are surprised Mr Brand thinks it is.’

‘We are concentrating on working with local charities and housing providers on helping vulnerable Slough people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves homeless,’ they added.

‘There has been an increase in those presenting as homeless in the past six months and we are doing our best in difficult circumstances.’

Image: Chris Harvey / Shutterstock.com.

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