A WAR of words has broken out after a councillor called for “feral” youths to be kept off an estate.

Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth told The Argus last week that “a handful of troublemakers” should be kept away from the Ingram Crescent estate in Hove after a spate of knife sightings, arson, threats and indecent exposure.

City council hopeful Chris Henry criticised Cllr Nemeth for “offering no solution”.

Cllr Nemeth said the Labour candidate for Westbourne ward would have a better idea of the area if he lived there.

But Mr Henry said: “He’s twisted the facts and inflamed the situation, when what is needed is a quick, rapid and cool response from local services and the community.”

Mr Henry said the involvement of community policing and social services was needed along with a long-term plan for youth play facilities in the area.

He said Conservative Government cuts had reduced Sussex Police’s ability to patrol the street and had an impact on support for young people. He said: “When this small community loses not one, but two, local play facilities is it any wonder that trouble bubbles up amongst bored teens?”

Cllr Nemeth and fellow Wish Ward Conservative councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn represent the estate.

They say they have made considerable efforts to identify the individuals responsible to police and are making strong calls for the council to take action.

Cllr Nemeth, who said the youths were “feral”, said: “We are essentially seeing a sudden crime spree of violence and intimidation.

“Nothing like this has taken place in the many years that I have lived here.

“It’s usually a very happy place without any deep social problems.

“If Mr Henry lived in this part of the city, he’d know that.”

Peter Kyle, Labour MP for Hove and Portslade, has also waded into the debate.

He has written to Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne to ask that youth prevention officers go into schools to educate children and young people about the dangers of carrying weapons and starting fires.

Mr Kyle said: “The Sussex police and crime commissioner can set a strategic direction for our local force and so she should have a grasp on our local issues.

“Of course, part of the solution would actually be more bobbies on the beat.

“This is something I’m campaigning on in Parliament.”