Candidates were accused of playing “tiddlywink politics” over housing and homelessness in a fiery debate.

Representatives from five political parties and groups traded blows in the second debate organised by The Argus, in partnership with Latest TV.

The debate saw the panel clash over issues around rent controls, landlord licensing and affordable housing.

Brighton and Hove Independents candidate Gary Farmer slammed the changing policy on housing under different administrations and said a long-term strategy is needed.

He said: “We go from pillar to post with tiddlywink politics of changing colours and parties. Everyone has a new plan and strategy, but it doesn’t work.

“We need to work together, build a long-term plan and build more houses.”

Gill Williams, Labour candidate for Whitehawk and Marina, unveiled her party’s plan to tackle the housing crisis and said she had been campaigning for several years to implement a landlord licensing scheme.

She called for tougher enforcement on rogue landlords and poor standards of housing in the city.

Ms Williams said: “The council has the power already to do this enforcement but hasn’t been using it, the softly-softly approach isn’t working.

“We are going to get tough and we are not going to stand for it any more.”

She also backed the idea of banning second homes in new developments to ensure affordable homes are made available for local residents.


Siriol Hugh-Jones, Green Party candidate for Hollingdean and Fiveways, shared her support to improve conditions for residents in rental accommodation but warned against “vilifying landlords”.

She said: “We need landlords, we’ve got a massive housing shortage and we depend on landlords, so we shouldn’t always vilify landlords.

“If we do, we end up with the potential for landlords instead looking at short-term lets and Airbnb to make more money.”

Conservative candidate Anne Meadows said landlord licensing could have unintended consequences and rent controls, backed by Labour and the Greens, would “decimate the city” if the council was given the power from government to introduce them.

She said: “Ninety nine per cent of landlords in the city are ethical landlords but Labour are so gung-ho for that one per cent that they are ignoring what is happening with the rest of the properties.

“Some landlords may end up deciding it is too much hassle and won’t rent out. We need to use powers we already have and do enforcement when it is needed.

“It is about making sure we have the landlords to rent properties, otherwise we will be in an even worse position for housing.”

She also criticised the number of student housing developments being built in the “best spots” of the city.

Mr Farmer, who is standing as a candidate in Regency, criticised Ms Meadows for “scapegoating students” as part of the issues residents face with housing.

He said students were a “soft target” and they give Brighton its energy.

“They are people, they need somewhere to live, they need a home,” he said.

The Argus:

The panel also discussed the rising number of deaths of rough sleepers in the city.

Dominique Hall, Liberal Democrat candidate for Kemp Town, said the only long-term way to address homelessness in the city is to build more housing and that residents have to accept some development has to take place in some green spaces.

Dominique said: “Within Brighton and Hove, there are just not that many places where we can build. There is not enough housing and we are going to have to make some difficult decisions about where we build.”

Voters go to the polls on May 4 across the city to elect 54 councillors for the next four years.