A COUNCIL has admitted it can only “ask” people to move their tents from public spaces.

Brighton and Hove City Council brought in “public space protection orders” (PSPO) in 2017.

The powers were billed as effective tools to tackle antisocial activities including people living in vehicles and tents in the city’s public spaces.

The council promised that, on request by an authorised officer, police officer or police community support officer, anyone challenged would need to remove any vehicle, caravan or tent within 12 hours.

Now the council has said the order can only “ask” people to move the tents.

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If they do not, they would be liable for a fine of up to £1,000 – though it is unlikely many would be able to pay that.

Yesterday The Argus revealed that a man who has set up tents on Hove Lawns – which is supposed to be protected by a PSPO – has been allowed to remain there for nearly two months.

The 53-year-old, who goes by the name “Mr Dogg” is part of an encampment of at least eight tents, complete with a barbecue and camping chairs.

Councillor Nichole Brennan, the council’s lead for rough sleeping, said: “The legal powers available to the council for managing encampments are limited.

“We cannot move people on without a court order if they refuse to go when issued with notices.

“This legal process takes time

“We have to apply for a new order for each camp set up in the city.

“We can and do take action to help people in need and move tents away from public spaces where camping is not allowed.”

The councillor added that court proceedings are under way to move the tents from Hove Lawns.

She said those living there had been offered support.

Cllr Brennan said: “We are taking a balanced approached to the needs of vulnerable people and looking after the city’s open spaces.

“Camping is not allowed in the city and staying in a tent long term is not a safe or healthy lifestyle.

“We will work with anyone living in a tent to find them a better place to stay, this may not be in the city.”

The number of tents on the lawns and in the rest of the city has grown over the summer.

As well as Hove Lawns, encampments have been spotted at Bedford Square, Adelaide Crescent, near North Street and Little Street among others.

This comes despite a claimed 50 per cent reduction in rough sleeping in Brighton, according to council figures.

An unofficial count in May found 43 people sleeping on the streets, compared with 91 in May last year.