A 15 metre long piece of graffiti calling on the "lazy" council to clean up the city and house the homeless has been removed within hours of it appearing.

The giant message was daubed under the cover of darkness in New Road, Brighton, targeting Brighton and Hove City Council.

It spanned the length of the seating in the major thoroughfare and said: "Brighton council, clean the f***ing city up, house the homeless. You lazy pr**ks."

The Argus: Hundreds of pedestrians walk past the spot each hour during the Easter holidayHundreds of pedestrians walk past the spot each hour during the Easter holiday (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

It comes weeks after the state of the city came under fire in the national press -  a MailOnline feature carried a series of images showing overflowing rubbish bins, weeds growing out of the pavements and homeless encampments in the middle of the beach.

The Argus: Tent city on Brighton BeachTent city on Brighton Beach (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Council environment boss Tim Rowkins refuted the graffiti's claims the authority is lazy, saying it is working "extremely hard" to clean the city and support the homeless despite "brutal" central government cuts.

Rough sleeping in Brighton has increased by more than a fifth in the space of a year - with the number of homeless people rough sleeping on any night the highest in the South East.

The Argus: The graffiti told the council to house the homelessThe graffiti told the council to house the homeless (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

The message was spotted on Tuesday morning and reported to the council shortly after. The graffiti was removed less than 24 hours later.

Other streets in Brighton remain covered in graffiti tags, including on street furniture and private walls.

Cllr Rowkins said the graffiti was cleaned off "as a priority" in line with its policies regarding offensive language.

The Argus: The graffiti was cleared less than 24 hours after it was first reportedThe graffiti was cleared less than 24 hours after it was first reported (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

The council's policy states it will remove any offensive graffiti within 24 hours of it being reported. Offensive graffiti can include hate comments, extremist sentiment, anti-faith and swear words

Council leader Bella Sankey said graffiti and weeds are in the council's sights for 2024.

Last year, she waged war against high street chain Boots after it allowed graffiti tags to stay on its Brighton store for months.

She said: "We are really serious about improving the look and feel, and restoring some pride into the city while making sure Brighton is as beautiful as possible."