POLICE have expelled rough sleepers who set up camp on Hove Lawns two weeks ago.

Officers arrived yesterday and told the men they had until 12.15pm to move their four tents to a patch of concrete a few metres away.

The police warned them: “We’ll give you an hour or we’ll do it ourselves.”

On Monday, the group were issued with fresh notices from the council telling them their tents would be removed.

A separate council notice attached to the tents threatened legal action if the men continued to camp on the lawns.

Rough sleeper George Carter, 20, said: “We’re not camping. We live here.”

When police arrived at noon yesterday to evict the men, he asked one officer: “Have you ever been homeless? Do you have any idea what it’s like to be moved on constantly? You’ve got a house, you sleep in a bed. We just want a bit of stability in our lives.”

The rough sleepers were unhappy at being told to leave, but agreed to move on and had begun shifting their tents before the second police team arrived.

The eviction took place at the same time as organisers began setting up for this weekend’s Paddle Round the Pier Festival.

Police consulted the festival’s organisers and told the men they could also move further up to the western end of Hove Lawns.

Events manager Jo Osborne said: “We didn’t ask for the rough sleepers to be evicted. That’s not what we want. We’ve got a lot of sympathy for these men, but there just won’t be space on this part of the lawns during the festival.”

Mr Carter said: “We’re happy to move for the festival, but we’re not doing it for the police or the council. We’ve done absolutely nothing wrong.”

The rough sleepers were told to leave by the council last week following complaints.

But one resident from the large houses overlooking the Lawns, Moira Nangel, said: “We really should be doing more to ensure people are securely housed. Why don’t council members try sleeping out themselves?”

Councillor John Allcock, chairman of Brighton and Hove City Council’s housing committee, said: “Britain’s housing system is broken.

“Despite the UK being the fifth richest economy in the world, a new household is found to be homeless every five minutes.

“This is a crisis which is having a major local impact.”

“Outreach workers have been offering support and this will always be our first approach. We also work with partners, charities and voluntary organisations across the city to provide co-ordinated support for vulnerable people on the street.

“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 will act if we can where anti-social behaviour or the location of an encampment becomes a significant issue.

“We’re doing all we can in challenging circumstances but we do encourage anyone thinking of coming to Brighton and Hove to make sure they have accommodation arranged first.”