Row deepens over Brighton moving homeless to Eastbourne

A further row has erupted over Brighton placing homeless and vulnerable people in Eastbourne hotels.

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The issue first hit the headlines last year when it was revealed Brighton and Hove City Council had moved more than 100 people out of the city to Eastbourne hotels without telling the authorities here.

Brighton placed their homeless people in a number of seafront and town centre hotels but said at the end of last year it would look to relocate them back to the city.

The row deepened this month after Your Eastbourne Bid, which represents hundreds of businesses in the town centre, wrote to Brighton council boss Geoff Raw telling him the situation had now reached “unacceptable levels” and businesses are seeing more problems with shoplifting and anti-social behaviour.

Steve Holt from the BID said, “The number of placements in Eastbourne from Brighton authority has continually increased.

“Many of our businesses are in close proximity to a number of the buildings and hotels that Brighton and Hove City Council choose to use for emergency accommodation placements.

“Despite assurances from officers, many of the individuals have multi-complex needs that require a high level of resource to deal with and who are not receiving this from the Brighton authority and I am hearing regular reports of the disruption caused by your placements.

“This situation has unfortunately escalated to a stage where it causes a real risk to public safety and presents a huge challenge to our businesses. As we are all aware, many of these individuals have a long history of being involved with drug dealing, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour, which we unacceptably feel the full brunt of on a day to basis in our town centre.

“I am disappointed to report that since the replacement situation began, we have seen a huge increase in shoplifting and anti-social behaviour reports – many of which come from our businesses that have been targeted by these individuals at a huge expense.”

Mr Holt said he was aware that Brighton council had now received additional funding from the government to help with allocating homeless and vulnerable people and added, “We ask that Brighton council utilises this to secure placements within its own district.

“In our view, it is unfair both on our businesses, our visitors, our residents, but also on those that Brighton council moves away – who lose their support structure and are in unfamiliar environments.

“Our street ambassadors have been informed by several placements that they do not receive support from Brighton once they have been placed. This cannot continue.

“Our businesses are increasingly concerned about the long-term reputation of our town as a direct result of the placements Brighton has chosen to make. Like Brighton, our town relies upon its visitors economy and the feeling of public safety.

“Brighton’s placements threaten this, and therefore our town’s future recovery. We therefore request that Brighton urgently relocates their existing placements back to the city.”

A spokesperson at Brighton and Hove City Council said discussions were under way to “relieve the pressure”.

The spokesperson said, “We have provided accommodation for approximately 400 additional people at any one time, and that capacity is not within the city.

“We are also working with all households in emergency accommodation on their move on plan.

“Given the numbers of people this is not an easy task and it will take some time to resolve. A lot of larger councils are facing the same challenges and must place homeless households in other areas. This is common and we notify those councils when a placement is made in their area as we are legally required to do and are having ongoing discussions with the local authorities where we have placed the most people.

“We are moving people back to the city as soon as we can but due to on-going demands, rooms are being re-filled. We have weekly meetings set up with on-site security and Eastbourne police are invited. They have said any issues have been minor.

“Our welfare officers are also providing weekly on-site support at hotels where it is Covid-safe to do so. We are exploring other accommodation opportunities within Brighton and Hove and are hopeful we will be in a position to provide additional accommodation within the city in the next few weeks which will relieve pressure on Eastbourne.”