Beggars, drug addicts and vandals are hiding from police in an all-night car park.

People living in St James's House and Ardingly Court in Brighton want to see the site under their block of flats secured.

Their demand comes after a fire in the car park off St James's Street, which residents feared could have led to an explosion.

In the arson attack, the attendant's hut was set alight and the blaze spread to nearby cars.

Residents said the fire was the last straw, with beggars and drug addicts congregating in the car park after being forced off St James's Street by a crackdown on antisocial behaviour.

They are also angry about being woken up in the early hours of the morning by revellers leaving pubs and clubs.

Maggie King is secretary of the St James's House and Ardingly Tenants and Residents' Association.

She said: "The fire was horrendous and many of the people living here have been very frightened ever since. We want to see more done to make our area safer.

"These people have been pushed off St James's Street so they are coming into our car park."

The tenants group met Councillor Simon Burgess, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service assistant divisional officer Charles Humphreys and city council parking manager Dick Davey-Thomas this week.

About 20 residents met them in the community room of St James's House to discuss their concerns.

Mrs King said: "It was very constructive. We will be contacting the council's antisocial behaviour action team to seek their help."

Coun Burgess said: "The meeting was useful as residents drew our attention to a number of issues in an area which, I am disappointed to say, has not had the attention it has needed over the years.

"The meeting was particularly about the car park. I think it is very important to find a way to keep it secure in the future."

Solving the problem of keeping addicts and vandals out is complicated by the contract NCP has to run the car park, Coun Burgess added.

He said: "It is a complex arrangement in which NCP has rights similar to tenants.

"We have to negotiate with them but I am determined to get the car park secure.

"It is inevitable when people are going to foot bills there will be a fair bit of discussion."

Coun Burgess hoped the security issue would be resolved by the time the NCP contract comes up for renewal next April.