What triggered the TWO No Confidence motions from fellow Councillors – Blog

Council Leader Simon Dudley’s behaviour recently triggered the TWO No Confidence motions from fellow Councillors. Find out why


RBWM political Leader, Cllr Simon Dudley, recently two votes of No Confidence, one from his own Party group and, one from the entire Council.

The “back him or sack him motion…isn’t a vote about homelessness but about the handling of the issue,” the un-named Conservative party source’s comments to the Maidenhead Advertiser, In the opinion of many, this pretty much sums it up but, for the non-Tory Councillors, Cllr Dudley’s tweets and public statement illustrate of a pattern of behaviour, repeated over a number of years, which are violate the standards expected of political leaders, for example as evidenced in the Nolan Committee’s, “Seven Principles of Public Life” – click to read



Quick read of article

Cllr Dudley’s recent comments and subsequent statements on the homeless in Windsor created an international storm bringing much negative publicity upon the town, and also the Royal Family. It still threatens to crystallise dangerous, anti-monarchist protests during the run up to the Royal Wedding on 19 May 2018 – this should have been a wonderfully happy occasion for all but, now threatens to be a risky affair.

His handling of the affair, plus a history of behavior considered inappropriate for a leader, triggered two no-confidence motions; neither of which were taken lightly but rather, in the interest of the Borough and residents.

Sadly, the Conservative Party, who have a vast majority in the Council, chose to support him and so, effectively endorse his conduct and leadership.

It is now up to residents to make their views known at the ballot box in May 2019.


The background to the Homeless issue

Windsor and Maidenhead have a visible issue with homelessness. The presence of people on the streets comprises many complex issues often involving bad luck, a lack of money, addiction, abuse, and unsurprisingly, mental health issues.

In a grown up society, these are issues which can be solved, to the benefit of all, but need time, money, collaboration and compassion after all, we are one nation, connected and, responsible one for another and, as the saying goes, “there but for the grace of God go I”


Cllr Dudley lights the fuse

The fuse was lit and furore sparked off by Cllr Dudley’s series of tweets about the homeless at 2:27 PM – 27 Dec 2017 from Wyoming, USA (yes, from a luxury holiday home in the exclusive Jackson Hole, Wyoming)

That Tweet alone contains a number of problems;

  1. The numbers of roughsleepers in Windsor has not changed much but, has become more visible
  2. So, as it’s not a new problem, why hasn’t this been dealt with in a humane society? Why wait until there is a Royal Wedding, an international event?
  3. Why would you call in the Police to deal with a social issue?
  4. Why would you ask the police publicly on twitter, and name individuals, rather than picking up the telephone to you your close partner?
  5. This seems somewhat aggressive and cold, in the middle of a freezing winter.


A flurry of Tweets

I then asked Cllr Dudley, “When will the Homelessness Strategy, promised at the Windsor Town Forum on 25 October 2017, be available for review/scrutiny/improvement Simon? I believe it was due for tabling in November 2017” As, well tested Council Policy should form the basis for our actions.

  • Simon responded, “This is vagrancy. Don’t conflate the two issues. ‪#Windsor residents have had enough of this“
  • He then made the accusation, “It’s a life choice not homelessness. It’s a profession”

I responded, “However you choose to label these individuals, when will our Homelessness Strategy be available? I expect it will include a considered multi-agency approach that will map out and deal appropriately, effectively and flexibly with all possible outcomes”

Maidenhead Advertiser reporter, Grace Witherden, also responded asking,”What are the police supposed to do? Shouldn’t RBWM look at how they can address this problem in the borough? Additional emergency shelters etc?

In Dudley’s next tweet was also apparently unsubstantiated, responded,

Then the discussion raged on with many others commenting.


A public letter to the Police and Crime Commissioner

Then, on 3 January 2018, Cllr Dudley issued a letter, on Council letterhead, to the PCC.

The letter made a number of unsubstantiated claims, attacked police officers, and insultingly, it was first publicized to the world rather than to the intended recipient, the PCC. Then again…


Now, why would you seek to further antagonize the PCC, and hard working, skilled, police officers?

Click to download a copy of both pages

The letter in detail

Click here to read the letter

Here are a few things to note about the letter;

The letter is ostensibly to deal with,

  • Anti-social behaviour, including aggressive begging and intimidation in Windsor” which it clearly ties in to homelessness later on page one – see point 3
  • The letter starts with a thank you to the police but then goes on to attack police officers – see point 5
  • The letter then goes on to make exaggerated statements about RBWM’s offerings to homeless people
  • The letter makes a number of unsubstantiated statements about the situation in Windsor
  • The letter then
    • Uses the Royal wedding as an excuse for dramatic action and,
    • Purports to speak on behalf of all Councillors
  • The letter then publicly criticizes Thames valley Police’s area commander
  • The letter then;
    • Conflates the need for action with the risk of terrorism and then
    • Launches a thinly veiled attack at the Police for not apparently fulfilling a verbal commitment (a little rich don’t you think in view of Lowbrook?)
  • The letter again publicly criticizes TVP for being, “unlikely to contribute anything towards the the extensive CCTV renewal programme” again conflating issues.
  • It then ends with what might be regarded as political rhetoric. Do you really think security of the Royal Family and Windsor is not constantly in the minds of the Thames Valley Police and the security services?

Now, why would you seek to further antagonize the PCC, and hard working, skilled, police officers?


Comments on the Public Letter

  • Now honestly. Would you attack your partner publicly on not one issue, but three issues or, would you act like a grown up and pick up the phone and call them or, meet with them? Will this encourage the Police to doff their helmets and descend en masse in Windsor?
  • What are you trying to gain by publicizing a letter but not delivering it to them first?
  • Why conflate issues of homelessness with terrorism or CCTV or even, dare I say it, a high profile, international event, like a Royal Wedding? As a civilized country, shouldn’t we be dealing with this anyway?
  • Why publicly make unsubstantiated statements?
  • Why publish exaggerated statements?
  • What are you trying to prove and, who are you trying to prove it to?


“All these statements are un-evidenced”

What others say about the letter

Here’s what Murphy James, manager of the Windsor Homeless Project had to say about Cllr Dudley’s Claims;

* Emergency Night Shelter open 365 days a year.
– “Whilst John West House is a Shelter, it is not one that you can just turn up if you find yourself with nowhere to go. It is being used as temporary accommodation as there are only 8 beds for males and two beds for females.”

* A day service attached to the night shelter providing support services to our vulnerable residents. The service assists people to address their complex needs, enabling them to move into temporary and then permanent accommodation – removing them from the cycle of homelessness.
– “Now I’m not saying that’s a lie but Cllr Dudley must be Living a dual life as a Cllr in another borough, as well as RBWM, as there is absolutely no service attached to the shelter (John West House). There is, however, a big empty warehouse that could be used for something amazing, but isn’t. So, if no service exists, how can it help people with their complex needs? Consider me baffled.”

* Operating a drug and alcohol support service and integrated mental health service, jointly run by the council and the Clinical Commissioning Group; the service targets support to vulnerable adults, including those living on the streets.
– “Wrong. This is being looked at but nothing has come to fruition as yet. If this was the case, our job would be a hell of a lot easier. In fact, it wasn’t until very recently that RBWM employed anybody with any knowledge of Dual Diagnosis (Mental Health & Addiction) at all.”


Here’s what Cllr Lynne Jones, Leader of the Non-Conservatives had to say,’

Astounded at the unprofessional manner in which he released the letter into the public domain before the P&CC had seen it and had a chance to respond.

His letter refers to the situation being ‘totally unacceptable to me and my fellow councillors’. With these words, and using Council Headed Paper, he has attributed his own views as those of the full council. I certainly do not agree with the content of his tweets, or his letter or the way he has conducted the conversation regarding homelessness. He does not speak for me. And that is the issue

“There has been global media coverage of the Leaders insensitive and exaggerated statements.

  • ‘an epidemic of rough sleeping and vagrancy’
  • ‘it is largely Vagrancy and begging’, ‘marching tourists to cashpoints’,
  • ‘all with bowls out looking for cash’
  • ‘evidence that a large number of adults that are begging in Windsor are not in fact homeless’
  • ‘countless number of reports that are all being collated in the royal borough’

“All these statements are un-evidenced, work had not been undertaken to analyse the situation of each rough sleeper. I asked for sight of this evidence and was told it was not available.

“These un-evidenced statements backed up a call for the police to use the Vagrancy Act 1824 to remove the rough sleepers before the Royal wedding. This is against all central government guidance. How can the Leader of this council believe it is his right to make un-evidenced statements, on behalf of all councillors, with only the approval of his deputy Cllr Bicknell. The council consists of more than just 2 members – it is a body of 57 democratically elected individuals who all have a remit to ensure their actions are not to the detriment of the council.

Cllr Lynne Jones, Leader of the Opposition, who have a heightened responsibility to scrutinise and, hold the administration to account, concludes, “His actions have shown that there is no respect for this democratic process of council and that has led to his actions bringing the council into disrepute.


Summary of comments

Cllr Dudley has made unsubstantiable claims about the situation.

He has made exaggerated statements about the Council’s actions.

He has publicly attacked not just the Police Service but also launched a personal attack on the area commander. This has been regarded as incorrect, and inappropriate and, has not helped the police do their job, in fact there have been reports of the Police suffering increasing abuse as a result of this worldwide story.


The Consequences of Cllr Dudley’s statements and actions

Here’s what I said to council about the consequences of Cllr Dudley’s actions;

  • He has Alienated head teachers, schools, police, residents groups, residents, hundreds of thousands who have signed petitions à Your seats are at risk Councillors
  • His latest actions have been a world wide sensation, causing the narrative “the British wealthy looking down on the poor, at a time of national celebration” has made headlines across the world from Europe to Australia, Canada to India, Mexico to Japan, putting the reputation of Royal Family, Windsor & UK at risk
  • Negative publicity, impact on tourism, streets of Windsor deserted today, shop owners using this as a reason for absence
  • The Police have suffered increased levels of abuse
  • He has given anarchists and anti-monarchists an excuse to escalate action planned for the Royal Wedding in Windsor
  • Disowned by Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, who can not align herself with such behavior. Can you risk not noting her action.


News update

Since the No-Confidence Motion, it has been reported that a young homeless man who accepted RBWM’s offer of housing, has died in dreadful circumstances in the Pay and Sleep accommodation, out of the Borough in Southall, to which he was sent.

This is the same accommodation that Cllr Dudley stated he would visit in his first interview since the furore erupted, but he didn’t.

Cllr Ross McWilliams has also since indicated in Council that standards were applied, when Cllr Dudley was questioned about his statement that “high quality” accomodation was offered to residents.


But why the Motion of No Confidence?

For the Conservative Party it was about his “handling of the issue”.

For the Non-Conservatives, it went deeper and related to;

  • The notoriety and stigma his actions and ill chosen words have inflicted upon the town, the Royal Wedding and, arguably, the Royal Family
  • His inappropriate use of Council Letterhead, claiming to act on behalf of the Borough and all councilors
  • His history of inappropriate actions and behavior which seem to repeatedly violate the Nolan’s Seven Principles of Public Life which includes
    • Attacking residents on Twitter
    • Attacking Councillors on Twitter
    • Making incorrect statements about residents groups on Twitter
    • Councillors suddenly losing their paid positions after criticizing him
    • Publicly threatening behavior to the Principal of Lowbrook School
    • Apparent breach of Electoral Commission rules at the now infamous Clewer North by-election in May 2017
    • Not standing up against the reallocation of £480,000 of S106 funds from a variety of schools his own pet project in Holyport, despite Council voting for the money to be necessarily spread across many schools to benefit many pupils.
  • Cllr Jones considers that, “his actions have shown that there is no respect for this democratic process of council and that has led to his actions bringing the council into disrepute.
    • Overview and Scrutiny is seen as a nuisance, something to be overcome as a report makes its way to Cabinet, O&S can be marginalised, manipulated and any challenges minimised by the attitude of the Leader and the Cabinet. If this is allowed to happen then the system becomes irrelevant and flawed.
    • Challenge is ‘subdued’ by removal of members from Scrutiny Panels, The Leader and Lead members make political statements within scrutiny against all accepted guidelines…. In fact members of the extended cabinet were allowed to sit on O&S panels….. and the Leader has, as we have heard from Cllr Brimacombe, instructed conservative members as to how they should vote within O&S.
    • In Nov 2016 I personally wrote to The MD & Cllr. Dudley expressing my concerns regarding a lack of compliance around the O&S process, I was ignored.
    • Subsequently the Peer review report highlighted interference in the democratic process but even this has not changed Cllr Dudley’s attitude to democracy.”

As I said at the Council meeting, “We do not take this action lightly, but for the good of the many. In calling for a No Confidence Motion, we do not seek to attack the individual but address poor behaviours.

But sometimes, when poor behaviours are repeated, continually, it becomes necessary to deal with the individual to prevent future abuses”

This is and continues to be one of those situations.


It now remains up to the electorate in May 2019 to decide whether this conduct is appropriate in any society, let alone our Royal Borough.

Nota bene

The Motion did not deny the right of the Conservatives to form an administration. After all, if it had been passed, the Conservative Group would have chosen Cllr Dudley’s replacement from within their own ranks.

But, it gave them the opportunity to do what voters sent them there to do, pick a Conservative Councillor worthy of leadership.

We offered to help with the process.

They had the chance to draw a line and move away from the negative pall that had been cast. To move forward into a culture of positive leadership but, they closed ranks and chose not to.

It now remains up to the electorate in May 2019 to decide whether this conduct is appropriate in any society, let alone our Royal Borough.



I hope you found this useful.


Accountably yours,


WWRA Councillor, Wisdom Da Costa, Clewer North, Windsor





This post is part of Cllr Wisdom Da Costa’s regular series of Blogs to inform and empower local residents; as he promised in his election leaflet

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA).