A COUNCILLOR facing a standards panel for calling rough sleeping figures “fake” has doubled down on his position.

Wish ward councillor Robert Nemeth faces the council panel this afternoon for calling into question the official count number of rough sleepers on the streets of Brighton and Hove. He is accused of bringing Brighton and Hove City Council into disrepute.

He tweeted: “All councillors know that the figures are fake.

“I’m surprised that the administration is prolonging this story by trying to keep up the deception.”

Speaking to The Argus, Cllr Nemeth called the figures “fake” once again, arguing that he cannot be blamed for bringing the council into disrepute by pointing this out.

In 2017, the council estimated numbers, while in 2018 a headcount was carried out on a cold snowy night, in line with other councils across the country.

He said: “My annoyance was that there was a claim there had been a huge drop in rough sleeper numbers by comparing these numbers. The figures are not comparable because they’re measuring two different things.

“We normally measure the number of rough sleepers through a complicated equation which attempts to give you a good approximation by examining a number of different sources. The count is not designed to work out this number, it is simply a head count on a certain night.

“This should not be compared with the number of rough sleepers. They are different measures. What hits home is the simple fact that you can never find everybody.”

By stating that the figures are ‘made up’, Cllr Nemeth is bringing the council officers’ integrity and professionalism into disrepute, the complaint against him argues.

Cllr Nemeth said: “No, I definitely have not breached the code. If the council brings itself into disrepute by using fake figures, I can’t be held responsible by pointing this out.

“If the council feels that it is a good use of public money to argue with a councillor about the definition of the word fake, I can’t be held responsible.

“I don’t think that anybody would have any concerns about a councillor standing up for the rough sleeping cause.

“So whatever the result of the hearing, I don’t think anybody will be losing much sleep over it, except those who are keen to see public money spent wisely.”

The panel hearing is due to be webcast on the council website from 5.30pm today.

In the view of council lawyer Victoria Simpson, Cllr Nemeth’s refusal to provide his version of events or engage with the investigation was also a breach of the code.

Cllr Nemeth said: “I did cooperate and I replied to tens of emails about this when I could have been putting my time to much better use by helping residents in other ways.

“If it turns out that a councillor is not allowed to point out that fake information is fake, it will make no difference at all to the way in which I continue to fight for the disadvantaged in the city.

“If anything, I’ll be even more deterred to stand up to those who wish to silence us.”