POLITICIAN Alexandra Phillips has said she is “embarrassed by the grime and the state of the streets in the city centre”.

The Green councillor and MEP said the biggest issues in her ward, which runs between Brighton’s two piers, are “homelessness, antisocial behaviour including graffiti, drug dealing, intimidation and more grotty things – like defecation and open-air sex”.

“The worst of the worst happens here,” she said.

Ms Phillips is Brighton’s mayor but she spoke with The Argus in her role as a Member of the European Parliament and councillor for Regency ward.

Speaking at Brighton Town Hall, she removed her ceremonial chain, and explained the mayor is not meant to express political opinions.

But as a councillor, she spoke candidly about Brighton’s problems, saying: “I’m embarrassed when I go to the station to pick up family and friends – the bins are overflowing and it’s not the nicest of entrances.

“It’s a shame because it could be really beautiful. We could have trees, no traffic and it could be welcoming but we’re just not there.

“It’s a tricky situation. It’s not always the council at fault.”

She said a number of these issues are the result of “national cuts, and the city attracting everyone because Brighton is a nice place to live”.

But she said that looking around the city, it was clear austerity had taken its toll over the last few years.

Ms Phillips is particularly concerned about how vulnerable people have been hit by “huge cuts” to services that support them.

She said: “The council is doing a little bit, like housing homeless people. They only have to if it’s below 0 degrees Celsius but they are now being housed even if it feels below 0 degrees.

“As a society our mental health is not as good and people are ill, unhealthy and poor. That’s what you get when you have years of austerity.”

Cllr Phillips spoke to The Argus after the city council admitted problems in clearing a backlog of bin collections.

Earlier this month in a letter to residents, Cityclean boss Rachel Chasseaud said: “There have been a number of problems recently including vehicle breakdowns and a shortage of drivers which we are doing our best to address as a matter of urgency.

"This has involved carrying out double shifts, overtime and using agency staff. Please be reassured of my determination to deliver a service the city, and its residents, businesses and tourists, deserve.”