BRAZEN vandals have defaced beach huts and an historic seafront shelter with orange paint.

The taggers targeted the structures near Hove Lawns with spray paint on Monday evening.

The founder of Hove Beach Hut Association was furious after seeing the offensive and obscure words and tags daubed all over them.

The Argus:

Robert Nemeth, who is also a Conservative city councillor for Wish Ward, said: “The council continually allowing antisocial behaviour to take place on the Hove seafront sends out the message that anything now goes.

“Bicycles regularly hit kids, dogs make a mess on the beach, public property is smashed up and the lawns are constantly littered. Beach hut owners seem to bear the brunt of this though and attacks now take place weekly.”

The Argus:

One owner said: “These vandals are scumbags – why do they do this?” Another called them “absolute idiots”.

Bricks were scattered across the lawns, apparently from a nearby wall which has been half dismantled.

The defaced shelter, 19th-century architecture built to provide protection from the wind and rain, has been wrecked. Illegible tags are plastered over the shelter itself and the pavement surrounding it as well as three other beach huts.

The Argus:

A fourth hut was also targeted but the owners had already cleaned it up and repainted it before The Argus visited the scene yesterday.

The vandalism comes as people living nearby have become increasingly angry over huge gatherings of teenagers on Hove Lawns during lockdown restrictions.

Video and photos show groups of up to 80 youths drinking, playing football, hugging and having barbecues in the area. The antisocial behaviour reached fever pitch over the weekend when police were called to teenagers brawling on the lawns.

The Argus:

Cllr Nemeth said: “I have called for a strategy for crime prevention on Hove seafront which the Labour/Green coalition administration will be responding to shortly. I hope that it contains a lengthy list of solutions, but I’m not holding my breath.”

The latest attack comes less than a month after vandals broke into beach huts further west on the seafront, near Kingsway Bowls Club.

There are 450 beach huts in Hove. The Seafront Office will inform owners of vandalism and they are then responsible for fixing the damage.

Owner Jacqui Edwards said: “My beach hut has been broken into a couple of times. I can’t distinguish between mindless vandalism or desperation –the graffiti however, I do see as mindless vandalism.”

Another, Serena Constance, said: “We need to collectively take care of our environment, the council and community working together.

“The more graffiti or vandalism goes unrepaired or unreported, the more it attracts, as it give the impression that people don’t care, when of course they do.”

Council leader Nancy Platts said: “We share Cllr Nemeth’s concerns about crime and antisocial behaviour on Hove seafront and are working hard with the police to find solutions that address them.

“This is nothing other than mindless vandalism which is deeply upsetting for the owners of the beach huts. However, simply blaming the council for everything is overly simplistic. Everyone using our seafront needs to take personal responsibility for the way they behave.

“When I’ve talked recently about needing additional powers and resources to support our move to a Covid-safe city, enforcement of antisocial behaviour and groups of people gathering is exactly what I’m talking about. The council has no power to stop criminal damage and our police are stretched.”

Sussex Police were contacted for comment.