Van dwellers at Bristol beauty spot stay put despite eviction notice

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Caravans and vehicles parked in a popular park in Bristol still remain despite being ordered to leave by Bristol City Council. The local authority shared the letters on several parked vehicles on Parry’s Lane in Durdham Down on June 12.

It is the latest chapter in a saga between residents in Clifton Down and Durdham Down and vehicle dwellers over the right to park permanently at the beauty spot. Neighbours are demanding a ban on those who lead the alternative lifestyle – either out of choice or because of the housing crisis – from camping overnight on the roadside, making the area a “no-go zone” and using it as a “latrine”.

The notice threatened legal action if they did not move on. Some vehicles have left the area, but Bristol Live understands Bristol City Council are in contact with vehicles that remain on Parry’s Lane.

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The notice states: "Bristol City Council, whilst having permitted the encampment to date, does not give permission for the public highway to be used in this way and I must therefore ask you to vacate the highway.

"Failure to do so may result in Bristol City Council taking legal proceedings to remove you and the vehicle from the highway. Any caravans or vehicles that appear to be abandoned will also be removed."

Bristol City Council previously said the letter is an "informal request" and allows the vehicle dwellers a chance to speak to the local authority about the concerns raised by council figures and residents. The Neighbourhood Enforcement Team recently visited the area as part of the action.

Several of the dwellers feel they've unfairly been "grouped together" by the council - who referred to them as an "encampment" - when it is the minority who are responsible for the waste. Some say they've been left stressed and angry by the council's measures - and claim they're not doing anything offensive.

Dave Turner, 24, works as a technician and has been living in his caravan on the Downs for two months. After getting the letter from the council a week ago, he said the situation has been keeping him up at night.

He said: "It's not good. One of the reasons the council gave was our waste disposal, but most of us do it the proper way. They say we're too close to houses but I can't see many houses around here.

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"I work in Bristol if I moved, I can't think of anywhere I could go that would cause less irritation to people than here. It's very stressful I've been looking around as I'll have to try to move.

"I don't like how they've grouped us together and called us an 'encampment' - I'm here on my own. I haven't come with a group. I was fine until I got the letter and now it's keeping me up."

"A few vans have already moved onto a different road, but my van has solar panels so it would be a pain to move as the alternative is an area shaded by trees. This is the perfect spot really. If I had to move to central Bristol, I'd worry about my van - my home - getting broken into as well."

The served letters come as security patrols could be introduced to prevent the parkland from becoming “overwhelmed by lawlessness”. The land is subject to a series of old byelaws, which in theory ban people from a range of activities but these are rarely enforced.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson previously said: "On June 12, the council’s Neighbourhood Enforcement Team visited the encampment on Parry’s Lane and Saville Road to conduct a welfare check and assessment following complaints received from residents and councillors.

"During this visit, a letter was issued to occupants requesting they vacate the land in the next 14 days. This letter is an informal request and offers the vehicle dwellers the opportunity to open a dialogue about the concerns we have raised.

"The Neighbourhood Enforcement Team remains in conversation with the occupants of the Parry’s Lane encampment and will revisit the area on June 26 to assess if further action, as a result of any vehicles remaining on site, is necessary."