THE Green Party has responded after protesters gathered outside its office accusing the council of "backtracking" on a landlord licensing scheme.

Renters' union Acorn met outside the party's office near Brighton Station on Saturday, accusing the Greens of "failing renters in the city".

An advanced report from Brighton and Hove City Council's housing committee on Wednesday recommends that the council no longer pursue plans to introduce a mandatory licensing scheme for landlords.

That is despite commitments that such a scheme would be introduced.

Ellen Musgrove, Acorn Brighton Branch Secretary said the report was "incredibly disappointing" after trying "really hard to work with the Green administration".

Today councillor Siriol Hugh-Jones, co-chairman of the housing committee on Brighton and Hove City Council has responded.

He said: "We firmly believe there is a need for the licensing scheme in the city. Introducing licensing is part of our joint programme with Labour and are working hard to deliver a scheme.

"However strict evidence is required by government prior to implementation. The city council does not yet have the evidence that meets government requirements to justify a scheme.

"While we are introducing new enforcement officers to help protect tenants in November, any application for licensing will need to show that even with this enhanced enforcement, poor conditions have not been remedied.

"In the interim, without evidence, we are in the position where landlords can challenge the scheme.

"This is what happened when the previous Labour council in Brighton and Hove attempted to introduce landlord licensing – which at the time resulted in the scheme being abandoned.

"We therefore still need to work further on gathering more such evidence before we can move onto the next stages.

"We are also looking at the work of other councils that have tried to introduce landlord licensing schemes in the period since our last attempt was challenged in the courts."

He added: “Acorn has asked us to pledge to introduce licensing ‘by the end of the year’.

"Due to the nature of the evidence and consultation required by government, we would not be able to achieve this timeframe. However we are still actively pursuing landlord licensing.

"Importantly, we want to continue meeting with Acorn, to work together to achieve a scheme that is strong enough to withstand the scrutiny of a legal challenge, so that landlord licensing in Brighton and Hove becomes a reality.”