METAL fences put up where homeless people were sleeping cost taxpayers nearly £9,000 – and could be removed shortly.

Shelters at Duke’s Mound, Brighton, which were providing protection for rough sleepers, were fenced off using “essential repair” money last Thursday.

One homeless young man cried after seeing his belongings “dumped” outside his “home” behind metal railings, according to homeless campaigner Jim Deans, who has blasted the decision.

Brighton and Hove City Council leader Nancy Platts, who was unaware the action was taking place, said the council was “going to look again at the fencing” – days after it was erected.

The Argus can now reveal the fences cost the taxpayer £8,944.

The work was paid for out of the Planned Maintenance Budget (PMB).

The PMB is defined as “revenue allocation of essential repair works to civic offices, historic, operational and commercial buildings”.

Mr Deans runs the homeless busses on Brighton seafront which are now opposite the fences.

The Sussex Homeless Support founder said: “The council is telling people it’s cash-strapped and now they’re using our money to take away our spaces.

“There are probably plenty of other things that needed that money.

“The guys who were in the arches have not just evaporated because it is now fenced off – they have just moved.

“This is going to set back local agencies months.”

A petition which demands the council removes the mental fencing on the seafront arches has been signed by more than 300 people.

It aims to get the council to “to remove the ugly metal fencing so our rough sleepers have somewhere safe and warm to sleep at night”.

One person who signed the petition said she is “disgusted” by the council’s action.

Another branded it an “attack on the least privileged in our society”.

Ms Platts previously said the decision was taken “with the welfare of those sleeping at the arches as a top priority due to serious health and safety concerns at the site”.

Last week, The Argus reported how the council lead for homelessness, Nichole Brennan, pledged a “welfare first approach” to those sleeping in tents in the city.

Days later, a leaked council memo to councillors claimed there were “no plans this week” to move on rough sleepers at 15 sites – including Duke’s Mound.

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said: “The cost of the railings at Dukes Mound, including installation, was £8,944.

“The work was paid for from the council’s property Planned Maintenance Budget (PMB), which is used for work on council property.”