The long-awaited report into Windsor’s growing number of rough sleepers and beggars might not be ready until February.

This week the Royal Borough’s lead member for Windsor, Cllr Phill Bicknell, pictured, said more work on it was needed because of the complexity of the situation. He said: “The fact of the matter is we have to separate two issues. Rough sleeping and homelessness in Windsor are two separate entities.

“I am concerned we help the people who really need it.”

“I accept some are not homeless. But you can’t generalise without finding out who these people are.”

Cllr Bicknell (Con: Park) is also deputy leader of the borough – the second most powerful councillor after leader Simon Dudley, whose controversial letter to police and crime commissioner Anthony Stansfeld calling for stronger action against street beggars has caused a furore in the last few days.

A detailed report on the rough sleeping situation was originally announced for mid-November, but Cllr Bicknell said it was important to check the individual circumstance of each person who appeared to be living on the street.

He said: “We need to produce a balanced report which is why we can’t rush the document out.”

He was wary of claims that some of the people begging actually had homes, warning that seeing someone coming out of a property did not mean they had a secure residence there.

He is irritated by the growing controversy over the issue, saying: “It is no good having a verbal a punch-up and turning this into a political football, which is what some politicians would like to do. This will not solve the problems of people who need it.”

He acknowledged that some people on the street had rejected help when offered it, but said that did not automatically mean they were not in need He said: “Some may be refusing help but if the climate drops we are in danger of people dying and that can’t be right in this day and age. We may not manage a 100 per cent solution. I don’t think one exists. But we have to explore all the possibilities.”