PROTESTERS have called for the police to investigate councillors for “inciting racial hatred” after they agreed controversial new powers covering the homeless and travellers.

A petition has been launched calling on Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne to take action against Brighton and Hove City Council’s policy, resources and growth committee for approving public space protection orders (PSPOs) in July.

Almost 100 signatures have been collected against the orders, which came into effect at 12 sites in January and which have been enforced since the start of this month.

The city council has strongly rejected the claims saying the orders do not target any particular group.

A growing number of protesters have been taking part in a solidarity sleepout outside St Peter’s Church, Brighton, since Tuesday with a camp of tents now in excess of a dozen.

The camp is on council-owned land which hosts late-night fringe festival venue The Warren in May.

Council officials said the authority was committed to making sure the land at St Peter’s Place would be cleared in time for the festival events.

Officers have had “informal but positive” discussions and the council is hopeful protesters will leave voluntarily but eviction proceedings have been launched to ensure the site is cleared in time.

The Rev Archie Coates, of St Peter’s Church, said: “We have had no issues with them, everyone is welcome and we hope that they will come to church.

“We have The Warren coming up, we partner with Otherplace Productions, and obviously we are keen that it can go up and hopefully that is all in hand.

“They have not given us any indication about how long they intend to stay.”

A council spokesman said: “We strongly reject any claim our public space protection order is in any way racist. It was approved at a committee of councillors with a full equalities impact assessment.

“The PSPO is not targeted at any one group. It is targeted at the growing problem of certain open spaces in the city being unusable due to trespass and antisocial activities.

“The simple intention is to ensure that parks and open spaces are used for their intended purpose. The PSPO only relates to 12 locations where there has been evidence of a history of nuisance and antisocial behaviour.”

A spokesman said the PCC does not have the power to direct police investigations, and anybody who believes a crime has been committed should contact the police.