More than 33,000 people have signed a petition opposing calls for tougher police action against Windsor's beggars.

But a letter signed by five leading Windsor councillors has warned that the issue is more complex than many realise.

The petition - launched by Holly Fishwick on - follows the controversial letter sent by council leader Simon Dudley to crime commissioner Anthony Stansfeld, calling for action over the beggars and rough sleepers he feels are creating a 'concerning and hostile atmosphere for our residents'.

Holly Fishwick, who launched the campaign on, wrote: "I'm calling for this demand on the local police force to be withdrawn, and for people who are homeless not to be removed.

"Instead the council and local authorities should offer a suitable long-term solution for these people, including safe and secure accommodation and health advice and support."

But a letter to the Observer signed by councillors Malcolm Alexander, John Bowden, Hashim Bhatti, Mike Airey and Wesley Richards says that the issue is complex.

The councillors insist that the authority is already offering shelter and support services to the homeless on a scale not seen before in the area - but that some people have refused to take it up.

The councillors say: "Residents and business owners have identified some people who are begging in the streets of Windsor and claiming to be homeless when, in fact, they have homes in the town.  

"We are accountable for the condition of our town and we will not let it be abused by those who claim to be homeless but are really just begging.

"We  want our town back for good and not just for the Royal Wedding."

A detailed report on the whole situation is due to be completed by the authority this month.