NEWLY released figures on the number of rough sleepers in Brighton have been rubbished by a leading homeless campaigner.

The data shows a massive drop in the number of people sleeping on the city’s streets compared to last year.

But Jim Deans said Brighton and Hove City Council’s figures were misleading because the count took place on a night when it was snowing.

The figures published today show 64 people were rough sleeping in Brighton when the count took place on November 21, compared with 178 in November last year.

Mr Deans said: “Anybody on the streets who had any sense knew early in the day the weather was going to be bad.

“They got themselves undercover and squatted, found a garden shed, or all the other stuff they learn by being on the street

“I know one person who let people into his hostel room to get others off the streets.

“This played a massive part in the figures.”

The count is part of an annual nationwide scheme to find out how many people are sleeping rough.

The Brighton and Hove figures, which include the number of people bedded down in the city after midnight, are verified by independent organisation Homeless Link.

But on the night of the count, the council opened its emergency shelter for the city’s rough sleepers as the outside temperature was below freezing.

Mr Deans says only six people turned up as most had found their own accommodation.

The council said its own outreach service, St Mungo’s, carries out street counts every two months and its most recent figure, from September, was 78.

Councillor Clare Moonan, who is tasked with dealing with the city’s rough sleeping problem, said: “There are fewer people sleeping on the streets, the count has confirmed our own local knowledge gained over the last year.

“It’s a credit to all those working so hard in the city helping people away from the terrible tragedy of rough sleeping that we are seeing this change.

“We know together we are helping more people off the streets, with services such as the assessment hub and new supported accommodation.

“But we can’t ignore the fact that we’re not seeing a drop in the flow of people who are facing rough sleeping in the city and who we need to help. Demand is still high. It’s an ongoing challenge.”