Today The Argus exposes a ticket tout scandal which is ripping off thousands of Sussex concert-goers.

We can reveal that touts are buying up tickets for big concerts at the Brighton Centre and then selling them on at vastly inflated prices on the internet.

It means local music lovers are either being priced out of the market or having to pay hundreds of pounds extra to watch top acts.

Now they are calling on Brighton and Hove City Council, which runs the Brighton Centre, to back a crackdown on the rip-off merchants.

An investigation by The Argus revealed that just minutes after tickets went on sale for big gigs at the seafront venue they were re-appearing on the internet for up to five times their face value.

Rachel Fryer, 36, of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, tried unsuccessfully to get tickets for singer James Blunt's two London gigs so she monitored the Brighton Centre web site for seats.

She said: "I was going on it five or six times a day and it kept saying tickets were not on sale yet. Then suddenly 'sold out' came up."

Rachel then noticed that £20 tickets for the February 13 concert were being advertised on the internet for up to £100 each.

Other sold out gigs included The Strokes, Il Divo, War of the Worlds and the Kaiser Chiefs.

Most of the tickets had a purchase price of about £20 but were being sold for five times as much.

On the internet auction site eBay, two tickets for Il Divo's concert at the Brighton Centre on March 30 were on sale for £299.

Two tickets for the Kaiser Chiefs on April 25 were up for grabs at £102.

Many of those selling the tickets had a list of tickets for other gigs and events all over the UK, indicating they were touts.

Another web site selling tickets for double the price admitted it wasn't an official seller but stated: "Please note, you are buying Brighton Centre tickets from a third party. The Brighton Centre ticket prices are set by the ticket seller and may differ from face value."

Miss Fryer, a nurse who plays in a band, said: "It's disgusting because it takes away from people earning normal wages the chance to see their favourite bands. A lot of young people like music and would go to a gig for £20 but this practice is taking away accessibility from these people. If you have money you can do anything you like and go anywhere you like."

Miss Fryer said the city council had an obligation to its residents and tourists to ensure they were protected from unscrupulous traders.

The Brighton Centre used the official organisation Ticketmaster to sell tickets but admitted it was difficult to prevent traders, organisations and touts from getting hold of tickets and selling them on.

A spokesman said: "This is a problem that is being faced by venues all over the country. We sell our tickets in good faith, and for popular gigs restrict ticket sales to four per person. However there is nothing to stop several people from the same business ringing up and bulk buying that way.

"The Brighton Centre is a member of the National Arena Association, which is working to combat the problem. Ideally we would like to see legislation in place to stop touts, and tighter control being exercised by eBay and similar sites."

Promoters have called for a new anti-touting law for the 2012 London Olympics to be extended to all events and venues.