Eastbourne councillors are set to make an official plea for Brighton and Hove City Council to stop placing ‘large numbers’ of homeless and vulnerable people in the town.
The call comes amid a row between the two councils around Brighton and Hove’s use of Eastbourne hotels as emergency accommodation.
The matter was discussed at a meeting of the borough council’s cabinet on Wednesday (February 10), with council leaders saying there are plans to bring a cross-party motion to the authority’s next full meeting.
During that meeting, Cllr Alan Shuttleworth, whose cabinet portfolio includes housing, said:
“Our concern is, in part, for the individuals who are being moved from their support services within Brighton and being placed in the next town along without those support services on hand. Obviously many vulnerable people have been put in that position.
“There have been representations from just about everybody to Brighton City Council now, over a significant length of time, with very little response.
“So I can confirm we will be having a debate at our next council, but before that, between now and then, we will continue to put pressure on Brighton to change their policy and actually return those people back to where their support services are.
“There is an enormous amount of pressure on our own rough sleeper initiative in Eastbourne and indeed on all the organisations working to help people in temporary accommodation and former rough sleepers.
“It really is not acceptable for Brighton to continue this policy.”
While the motion has not yet been published in council papers, the LDRS has been provided with a draft copy.
“Eastbourne Borough Council calls upon Brighton and Hove City Council to end their policy of placing large numbers of homeless people into emergency accommodation in Eastbourne over recent months.
“Apart from the detrimental effect on those people who are placed so far from their support services, the policy has impacted significantly upon local health, housing, police, adult social care, children’s and other support services.
“Brighton and Hove City Council must find alternative accommodation in Brighton using the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government funding provided to the city council for this purpose.”
It is understood that the motion is to have cross-party support, being put forward by Cllr Shuttleworth and seconded by a Conservative councillor.
A spokesperson for Brighton and Hove City Council 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 plans.
“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.
“We 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 & Hove. We hope to be in a position to provide additional accommodation within the city in the next few weeks, which will relieve pressure on Eastbourne.”
Earlier this week, Caroline Ansell, the town’s MP and an Eastbourne borough councillor, raised the authority’s concerns at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Mrs Ansell said:
“There is no shortage of commitment or compassion in my town of Eastbourne for homeless people, who are vulnerable and need complex support.
“However, neighbouring Brighton continues to send its homeless to our town, and we do not have the resources to meet this need. Three homeless people have died, and I believe that there will be inquests.
“Brighton is not engaging with Eastbourne Borough Council in any meaningful way, and a further 51 placements have been made in recent weeks.
“Will my right hon. Friend join me in urging Brighton and Hove City Council leaders to engage on this as a matter of urgency?”