A PASTOR who supports the city’s homeless has said the council’s local connection polices are “killing rough sleepers”.

Those living on the streets have to prove they have a local connection to the area before accessing many of Brighton and Hove City Council’s services, including the night shelter.

A local connection can be established if they have lived in the city for at least three of the last five years.

Andrew Ramage, pastor at MCC Brighton, said: “To my mind this local connection kills.

“It makes me angry as the council are effectively gate keeping homeless services from people who are not from the city.”

Services wanting to receive funding from the council must also ensure that they will follow the local connection criteria before receiving any money.

Mr Ramage said that his own plans for a 40 bed homeless shelter which would run at half the £127,000 cost of the Brighton night shelter and would be available all year round would be rejected as he will not impose the rule.

He said: “The first rule is that you get people off the streets and then see whether they’re local.

“There’s a lot of voluntary groups and people out there that are supporting people.

“But some of them just give up because they’re told ‘you can’t do this’ or ‘you can’t do that’.”

Earlier this month, Mr Ramage led a vigil in honour of Andrew O’Connell, a rough sleeper who was killed in Pavilion Gardens.

Speaking to The Argus at the event, he said: “There first few drafts of the speech my wife vetoed because I couldn’t actually talk about it without getting so angry I would start swearing.

“Speaking to the family has re-energised what I’ve been trying to do.”

The city has the second highest population of homeless in England, with 178 rough sleepers.

It is set to receive more than half a million pounds from the Government to help reduce homelessness in the area.

A council spokesman said: “The council commissions an outreach service to offer help and advice to all rough sleepers in the city, the service will explore connecting people to areas where they have links when appropriate.

"For services bidding for funding for accommodation services for rough sleepers, we would apply local connection criteria.

“The council’s SWEP shelter opens in circumstances of extreme weather and offers a place to stay for all rough sleepers in the city, regardless of local connections, in emergency situations.

"Otherwise the council will explore reconnecting people in most cases where someone has links to other areas (exceptions exist for those at risk of domestic violence or abuse).”

This follows warnings from campaigner against homelessness, Jim Deans, who claimed drug-fuelled violence is so rife on Brighton’s streets that rough sleepers are forming gangs to protect themselves. He said: “We need the Red Cross down here because it’s a war zone.”