LAST night was extremely cold but at least most of us could go home to a warm house or flat.

That, sadly, is not the case for the city’s homeless community, many of whom will have spent last night and indeed many, many nights sleeping on the streets.

Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas has criticised the city council for delaying the opening of the night shelter at the Brighton Centre and it is easy to understand her frustration.

The streets of Brighton and Hove can be dangerous and inhospitable and there are a lot of vulnerable people out there who would love nothing more than somewhere to shelter and keep warm.

Many homeless people are suffering from mental health issues or have addiction to either alcohol, drugs or both. That said, they are human beings who deserve empathy rather than apathy.

Brighton and Hove City Council must be praised for the work it has done to help the homeless community, as indeed do the many voluntary groups who provide support by running “soup kitchens” and food banks.

Nevertheless, the number of homeless people in the city continues to increase as does the need for accommodation, be it permanent or temporary. Seeing people sleeping on the streets in the 21st Century reflects badly on society as a whole.

It is an issue which clearly cannot be solved overnight or indeed in the short-term, but the more help available, the better. The weather is only going to get worse as we approach December and to see people shivering on the streets is heartbreaking. The night shelter needs to be opened now.