Van dwellers told 'don't 'disrespect the Downs' as eviction notice served

-Credit: (Image: Paul Gillis)
-Credit: (Image: Paul Gillis)

Bristol Live readers are divided over the news that Bristol City Council has issued an order for caravans and vehicles parked at a popular park in Bristol to vacate the area. This move marks the most recent development in the ongoing dispute between Clifton Down and Durdham Down residents and the vehicle dwellers regarding the right to park indefinitely at this scenic location.

Local residents are calling for a prohibition on overnight roadside camping by those adopting this alternative lifestyle, whether by choice or due to the housing crisis, citing issues such as the area becoming a "no-go zone" and being misused as a "latrine."

Van dwellers have expressed a desire for privacy, countering any negative image by highlighting their positive community involvement, such as cleaning up litter and preventing crime. However, some residents have reported problems associated with van dwellers, including littering, accumulation of waste, and public urination.

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In Bristol, approximately 800 individuals reside in 600 to 650 vehicles, a trend driven by the escalating housing crisis and the desire of dwellers to reduce their living expenses. The Neighbourhood Enforcement Team is scheduled to revisit on June 26.

Following Bristol Live's article about the council's decision to evict the van dwellers, readers have taken to the comments section to express their views. Commenter BMushroom said: “Great to finally see some action from the council, after the public did their duty. So Va agrees: “It’s about time BCC took some action against these illegal vehicle owners. Let’s hope BCC follow up and remove all these unsightly van dwellers.”

Kingswoodbiffo added: “Time for our new council to put the big boy trousers on….All the vehicles should be immediately moved or removed.” And Rolandrp said: “This is fine as far as it goes. Those people displaced from this area are going to find other places to park up within the city. So that's likely to be closer to peoples' homes outside the current RPZs'. The Council knows this but the Downs' are high profile.” And Holdencaulfield agrees: “Most likely Sneyd park / Stoke Bishop. Wide green roads, many with little through traffic and all have zero RPZ.”

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Onlooker2 pointed out: “ If an ordinary motorist parks illegally BCC fine them, time to control The Downs.” And KingCiaran added: “Police not enforcing traffic regulations. The signs are up. You only need one policeman on a pushbike to slap tickets on their vehicles for parking too long. Or a parking warden.” drnp7 replies: “I know.. try parking on Whiteladies Road for 2 minutes over your allotted time and they'll get you.. but issuing a ticket to someone parked illegally in the same spot for a few years seems beyond them.”

Drnp7 added: “There are parking restrictions on the road where the vans are parked. This limits parking to a maximum 5 hours. So presently the van dwellers are being shown a favouritism by the council who are allowing them to break the law by parking permanently. Residents who might park their cars in restricted parking areas are the ones being discriminated against.”

Red93 sees a bigger picture., they said: “More evidence of the worst Housing Crisis Bristol has ever known. We will all be affected in some way I suspect before it's over, if it ever is. Hopefully the incoming Labour Government will have some better ideas on how to solve it.” lesserknown19 offers a solution: “The new Green BCC needs to stop building student accommodation, which is driving property developers to only concentrate on that market. And not the need for social housing or real affordable housing which the city needs.”

BrizzleMum added: “Many pensioners who live there because they can't afford to rent anywhere and aren't lucky enough to own a house. As well as that, many of the other people living there work full time so contribute to society in other ways. All I ever see is people harping on about council tax... For those who do their own refuse removal (which many do, it's the few who litter, not the many!) and don't use other council services, why should they pay council tax?!”

Harryharrison commented: “I was so surprised to see the amount of old vans, caravans converted horse trucks etc etc parked on the downs Sunday morning! These people, as lovely as they are, should have a bit more respect for the outstanding beauty of the area and what visitors to this great city must think! I also think that someone needs to help them find a field they can rent a space with toilet blocks and showers. If people want to live in a box that's up to them, fine, but please not in view of anyone who wants to enjoy the downs and open spaces.”

And IanW agreed: “Everyone is welcome to park temporarily to enjoy the Downs respectfully. Not to permanently park, live rate free and disrespect the Downs.”

Has this issue affected you? Should the van dwellers be allowed to stay? Have your say in our comments section.