TRADERS are at their “wits’ end” with rough sleepers who are fighting, vomiting and slashing their wrists with broken wine bottles.

Furious Peter Waters, boss of The Market Inn in The Lanes, said street drinkers are making his life a misery.

The 40-year-old, who lives above the pub and bed and breakfast in Brighton, claims he was assaulted for cigarettes and his children’s Christmas was ruined by noisy drunks.

The father, who has been running the pub for nearly 12 years, says it is often left to him to remove cardboard boxes and wash blood off the windows and streets.

He said: “Everybody wants to help, but nobody can do anything.

“There’s people in the walkways covered in vomit and blood with a can of beer in their hands.

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“Every morning there’s people drunk and arguing over money

“But by 9am when the police come, they’re nice-as-pie.

The Argus:

Tents outside Brighton Town Hall in May

“As the day goes on, they top up on drink during the day, and it’s a problem again by 6pm or 7pm.”

The trader claims he has called the police hundreds of times about rough sleeping groups.

Last week alone, he rang 999 four times to separate incidents happening between 7am and 8am.

Mr Waters said he was sitting with a cigarette and a coffee one Sunday when he was approached by a group demanding cigarettes.

When he refused using colourful language, he claims the group attacked him, stole the pack of cigarettes, and snapped the one he was smoking.

He did not call the police as he said it was easier to boil the kettle again and buy another pack.

And one Christmas Eve he was forced to call the police after a fight outside.

He said the arguing continued into the early morning, ruining Christmas Day for him and his children.

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Mr Waters said: “It’s been going on for years but in the last six months it has become more and more of a problem.

“There’s people in the walkways covered in vomit and blood with a can of beer in their hands.”

Mr Waters said the problem came to a head on Saturday when one rough sleeper used a broken wine bottle to slash his wrists.

The incident, which left puddles of blood in the street and road, horrified traders and passersby.

The Argus has a picture of the incidents which we have chosen not to publish.

In response, Mr Waters wrote an email to the authorities and is now calling on them to take tougher action.

The email stated: “This is Brighton’s tourist season.

The Argus:

Police evict homeless rough sleepers from tents on Hove Lawns

“This is the historic Lanes.

“This is unacceptable as a taxpayer to have this on our businesses doorstep.

“Forget your level of reports received, or priority areas, take this on merit, and come and witness it for yourself.

“Sit in my living room for breakfast with this outside.

“Stay in my guest room, and have a coffee and see this, or be woken up all hours of the night to this.”

Official police figures show that reported crime has more than doubled in Castle Square and neighbouring streets, including Market Street, where The Market Inn is.

In June 2018 there were 20 crime reports. In May 2019 that number had increased to 48.

In the year from from June 2018 to May 2019 there were 426 reports of crime.

Of those, there were 106 instances of antisocial behaviour.

There were 18 people sent to court, with six of those given a prison sentence.

The calls for tougher action on rough sleepers come during a perceived increase of tents in the city.

They have been spotted in Queen’s Park, Hove Lawns, Old Steine, North Street, also near the Co-op in London Road and the KFC in Western Road, at the Victoria Gardens and the entrance to Pavilion Gardens, and near the car park in King Place.

Chief executive of the Brighton Housing Trust (BHT), Andy Winter, has said whoever is handing out tents is a “bloody menace”.

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According to new figures, BHT has helped 174 people end their rough sleeping through its First Base day centre over a year.

And the charity has helped 775 households, many in Brighton, avoid ending up on the streets through its advice centre.

He said: “I’ve had meetings with a number of business in the last couple of months regarding the growing concern about what is happening on the streets.

“Most have a pre-existing relationship with BHT and actively support our work.

“They are not people who take a hostile view to the situation, but they are reaching their wits’ end about what is happening.”

Mr Winter said the number of tents was a “new phenomenon” for the city and we are at risk of “normalising rough sleeping”.

He added: “The challenge for the city is how to balance the needs and rights of people on the streets and not creating an environment where people come to this city, which is currently unable to cope with the current crisis that exists.

“Brighton is full up and to work in the best interests of the individuals we need to discourage anybody coming to the city who hope it will offer solutions to their housing crisis.”

The Argus:

Tents on Hove Lawns

Chief Superintendent for Brighton and Hove, Nick May, said: “In the past few months, we have increased patrols from prevention officers and PCSOs in areas of Brighton previously identified as being particular problem hot spots, including New Road and The Level.

“This has led to a significant decrease in reports of drug dealing and antisocial behaviour, which demonstrates we have listened to – and have taken steps to address – community concerns.

“We have a strong partnership approach in Brighton and Hove. All agencies work with individual members of the street community to address their underlying issues and offer support with understanding of the vulnerabilities involved.

“However, where an individual is not engaging with the support on offer, and is engaging in criminality, then using police powers may be the most appropriate course of action.

“Market Street has not been brought to our attention as a particular problem area and we cannot comment on incidents which we have not been made aware of. That’s why we always encourage anyone who experiences an incident of antisocial behaviour – or any other crime – to report it to us.”

Council response: 

BRIGHTON and Hove City Council said the national housing crisis is having an impact locally.

A spokeswoman said: “We are committed to making sure rough sleepers are offered the help they need to move off the streets as soon as possible. 

“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. 

“We will act if we can where antisocial 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.

“We are constantly looking for accommodation and buildings to help us address the housing crisis and would welcome any businesses or individuals to offer any help.”