AN MP has urged the council to talk to its lawyers and "reverse" the decision that stripped a charity of a £5 million contract.

Brighton Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle slammed the decision by Brighton and Hove City Council to fund two national charities instead of sticking with the local organisation Rise.

It has been claimed that the procurement process massively favours bigger, national organisations.

Rise has run refuge and helpline services in Brighton and Hove for the past 26 years.

But the domestic abuse charity was recently told that it had not won the £5 million seven-year contract starting in April.

Speaking to The Argus at a demonstration on Brighton seafront at the weekend, the Labour MP said the move was a "great tragedy".

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He told The Argus: "An organisation that is rooted in the community having to compete against big organisations that have professional bid writers is unjust.

"I think it is a great tragedy.

"Tory East Sussex have not commissioned with the same values as we would in East Brighton.

"They didn't recognise some of the great work that Rise has done. It was one of the first services in the country to have a specialised LGBT service.

"I want the council to be checking with their lawyers to see how they can get out of the bad contract they have signed so they can go with the local provider.

"Phelim Mac Cafferty needs to go in there and instruct them to do that.

"By hook or by crook, the money should have gone to Rise."

Demonstrators held a petition of 25,000 signatures on Brighton seafront in protest against the controversial decision made by the council.

People held up the banner of names while chanting "rise up" in unison.

Onlookers and passersby stopped and took photographs of the demonstration that took place for over an hour.

Organisers gave out leaflets, urging the public to contact their local councillors to make them aware of the issue.

Also showing his supporting was Labour MP Peter Kyle, who said scrapping the contract will "wipe the slate clean" of the work Rise has done.

He said: "I know how important the experience is, I have seen how that experience works and it worries me that that will be wiped out.

"In five years time, the only people able to bid for future contracts are going be to organisations that are international or national.

"What has happened is a scorched earth procurement process that hasn't taken into account the true social value and experience of local insight and wisdom.

'It will impact our city for decades to come."

The contract runs until 2025 and is funded by the two councils – East Sussex and Brighton and Hove – and the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner.

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: "Council officers held an open, fair and competitive procurement process to make sure we offer the best support possible for survivors of domestic violence and abuse in the city.

“The awarding of the contracts is required to meet a number of legal requirements and it is run separate from councillors.

“By law, the council has to award the contracts to the bidders who achieved the highest scores through the procurement process.

“We want to reassure residents that we take domestic violence seriously and want to help survivors how and when we can.

“We also want to reassure residents that domestic violence and abuse support services are continuing in Brighton and Hove.

“The council would like to thank Rise for the support services they’ve provided over the last few years. We understand that people are really clear about the value of Rise as an organisation.

“Council officers are working with Rise to ensure the smooth transition of the service and access routes remain open for anyone needing advice and support.

“For anyone experiencing any type of abuse, it is important to know that help remains available from police and support services.

"Anyone in immediate danger should always call 999."