Charity enraged after police impound rough sleepers' bus ahead of royal wedding

'We are going to park right outside the castle'

Sam Blewett
Friday 18 May 2018 12:01 BST
The Ark Project's bus is seen in Windsor and has 10 beds
The Ark Project's bus is seen in Windsor and has 10 beds (PA)

A charity worker has vowed to park a bus offering beds to the homeless outside Windsor Castle after it was impounded by police ahead of the royal wedding.

Thames Valley Police said the The Ark Project's 10-bed bus was seized from the town centre due to an issue with the driver's licence.

Charity founder Michael Longsmith, 42, said he would pay £1,500 to get it out of the impound before driving it straight back to Windsor Castle ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding.

Inspector Gavin Biggs, a roads police officer, said the force seized the "commercial vehicle" on Thursday afternoon.

"It was being driven otherwise than in accordance with a licence, a man was reported for the offence and the vehicle was removed," he added.

Mr Longsmith, of Newbury, Berkshire, said police pulled the bus over for not having an MoT, but he proved it was exempt. Then they questioned his licence, which he claimed was appropriate for the vehicle, he added.

"The bus is in the impound," he said. "We have got to pay £1,500 to get it released. We are going straight back to Windsor with it in full force. We are going to park right outside the castle."

The bus's presence came after Windsor council's Conservative leader Simon Dudley sparked controversy with a letter to Thames Valley Police, which said rough sleepers should be removed ahead of the wedding.

After a backlash, it appeared the street homeless have not been removed and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead said it has been working with charities to get rough sleepers the help they need.

A second homeless charity has pledged to drive its own double-decker bus to Windsor for the wedding, however.

Jim Deans, the founder of Brighton-based Sussex Homeless Support, told The Independent's sister site, Indy100: "After we saw the councillor saying he wants to clean the streets and scare the pigeons away, charities in various cities all had meetings and decided to go up there not only to campaign, but also to offer support.

"We’re not disruptive. We’ve managed to work with the police and other authorities."

Additional reporting by PA

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