A COUNCILLOR who once claimed she would turn a jet washer on homeless tents says beggars are putting people off the city as it reopens following the easing of the Covid lockdown.

Conservative councillor Dawn Barnett said homeless shelters in the city centre are giving Brighton a bad "image" and stopping tourists coming to the city.

It comes as tourism chiefs target mobile phone-friendly travel booking sites such as Expedia and Airbnb to try to attract staycation visitors.

Speaking to The Argus, Councillor Barnett said people sleeping rough need to be moved to a camp in East Brighton Park, away from holidaymakers.

She said: "There is a campsite there and the tents should be set up at the campsite for the people that want to sit around the town all-day.

"They don't need to be in the middle of the streets and that puts people off.

"I never go shopping in Brighton anymore, I go to Crawley or Worthing. I don't want to keep being accosted every time I walk down North Street.

"'Have you got any change?' 'Yes thank you very much - I have had to work all my life for it'.

"They are only begging for alcohol or drugs."

The Argus: Cllr Dawn Barnett with rough sleepers in the city in 2019Cllr Dawn Barnett with rough sleepers in the city in 2019

Brighton and Hove City Council claim that nine people are currently sleeping on the city streets, after revealing the figure as part of a count earlier this month.

It follows a count carried out in November last year that found 27 people sleeping rough in the city - a 69% decrease on figures for November 2019.

The council carry out a street tally every two months, with the latest on January 28 finding numbers had dropped further.

In 2019, Councillor Barnett sparked outrage with her comments made in response the news that rough sleepers, who had been offered accommodation by Brighton and Hove City Council, had pitched tents outside the town hall, angering nearby businesses.

At the time, she said: “If I owned one of the shops in the square and owned a pressure washer, I would turn it on them.”

The comment caused an online backlash, with socialist activist Alex McIntyre slamming the “disgusting language” as “dehumanising vulnerable people”.

The representative for Hangleton and Knoll went on to apologise for the comment.

Her latest remarks come a week after she slammed Brighton as a "filthy dump" after a 12-day deep clean missed out a number of areas of the city.

Council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty said he was "disappointed" by the comments that came "at a time when we are coming together as a city to safely welcome visitors back".