Rough sleepers who pitched tents on the seafront have been told to leave by council officers following complaints from residents.

Brighton and Hove City Council said a team was called to move the encampment after tents appeared on Hove Lawns last week.

Yesterday morning

there were five tents on the lawns.

Three men staying on the green said they had been handed notices by officials telling them to move.

One man, who gave his name as “SO”, has been homeless since 2010.

He said: “Where are we supposed to go?

“I have three kids in Brighton, I can’t just keep being moved on.”

The rough sleepers insist they have not caused any trouble. SO said: “We’re not doing any harm.

“I haven’t had complaints from people walking past.”

“It’s not easy being homeless as it is.

“You wake up hungry. I can’t sleep.

“It’s bad enough without being asked to leave.”

Residents have objected to the encampment, saying the site has been left in a mess and washing has been hung all along the railings

Yesterday morning, the lawns were clean.

One 58-year-old rough sleeper who pitched his tent there yesterday said: “Just look around. We don’t leave litter.

“Some people might, but you can see this place is tidy.

“I had to move from my last spot when building work started.

“What are they going to do? We’re homeless.

“It seems like anywhere we go it’s inconvenient.”

A council notice beside Hove Lawns prohibits pitching tents in the area under the Public Spaces Protection Order 2014.

The sign warns that tents can be removed within 12 hours, and those who camp without permission may receive a £100 fixed penalty notice or, if convicted, a fine of up to £1,000.

The council insisted these measures are not designed to target the vulnerable and would not be used to punish rough sleepers.

Councillor John Allcock, chairman of the council’s housing committee, said: “I’m dedicated to making sure rough sleepers are offered the help they need to move off the streets as soon as possible.

“Our first action is always to ensure outreach workers have offered help.

“We work with partners, charities and voluntary organisations across the city to provide co-ordinated support for vulnerable people on the street.

“Any action to move a tent is taken with consideration for those staying there and in line with council policies that put peoples’ welfare as paramount.

“Living in a tent can be dangerous.

“We want to give people better places to stay and that is a priority.

“At the same time

we have a duty of care to all residents, businesses and visitors.

“We will act if we can where antisocial behaviour or the location of an encampment becomes a significant issue.”