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Bristol’s famous ‘van dwellers’ have been banned by a council – from TALKING to local residents

Bristol’s famous ‘van dwellers’ have been banned by a council – from TALKING to local residents. The off-grid community has spent the last few years in caravans, transits and horse boxes around Greenbank Cemetery in the trendy suburb of Easton. They say they can’t afford to rent because of the housing crisis – despite many having middle-class backgrounds and good jobs. The ‘van residents’ benefit from a legal loophole, which means that as long as their car has full tax and MOT, the authorities can do nothing. But those parked on Greenbank View have now been told they face fines or even jail – if they speak to residents on the leafy street. The new rule is part of a series of measures issued at Bristol’s County Court following an application by Bristol City Council. The council says it follows an increase in complaints about blocked sidewalks, fires, trash, human waste, obstruction of sidewalks, double parking and the increasing number of cars. An ‘unknown persons’ warrant has been placed on the vehicles warning that they face court, prison, fines or confiscation of property if they do not comply. Part of the ban includes ”’directly or indirectly contacting any resident of Greenbank View in any way”. That means technically talking to people or sending messages to them on social media. They also cannot ‘instruct or encourage any other person’ to contact the residents of Greenbank View ‘directly or indirectly’. This would stop advocates or legal teams from texting people on the road. Van residents have today (Tuesday) labeled the rules as “prejudice” against them. Dexter Shallcross, 24, a sociology student at the University of the West of England, has been living on the streets in his yellow Mercedez Benz Sprinter since September. He said: “There is clearly prejudice at high levels in the council. “They assume that rough behaviour, general drug use and disorder must be people’s. “I’m sure there are some cases, but not all. “Although it’s a little dirty and not ideal in some ways, getting rid of us doesn’t stop addiction, it doesn’t stop homelessness and it doesn’t stop disorders.” Mo Abdi, 24, a student, said: “Isn’t this a free country? “If I’m walking down the street and someone says ‘hello mate, okay, I’m not going to say anything?’ If they kick everyone out of here, where is everyone going to go?” “With the cost of living crisis and everything, people have trouble paying rent and gas and electricity. “Many people can not afford to live in a house or flat. Life is hard, you know. Where is the humanity?” Another caravan resident, who asked not to be named, said: “We don’t talk to the locals anyway. “The municipality says that we have been offered places in the meantime, but we have not been offered any places in the meantime. sites. “We were only offered places on waiting lists. It is as if we are being persecuted for the way we really live.” But her neighbors in the houses on the street have dismissed her protests and say they welcome the order. Ian Aitken, 57, is a postman who has lived on the road since 2008. He said: “It all starts with one or two people coming up and saying ‘oh yeah, we’ll keep it clean and blah blah’. “Then hardcore drug dealers move into the abandoned caravans and we get police helicopters flying over. “Suddenly you have people walking down the street who are clearly crack and heroin users—their appearance is remarkably different from normal people. “You see it go through stages: things go on fire, the anti- social behavior, the crack and heroin trade. “The municipality does offer spaces for many people, but for whatever reason they don’t want to use them – they prefer to live independently. “So do they have an absolute need to live in a caravan or is it going towards some kind of hippie ideal?” Another neighbour, who declined to give his name, said: “I’ve lived here for over 30 years and this used to be a nice place to live. “Now my wife is definitely not going to walk down the road because she feels insecure. I will because I simply refuse to be let down by her. “One of my neighbors said he went to one of their drug jamborees at 2 a.m. and poured a bucket of water over their fire. “They said ‘where’s the love?’ and he said ‘where’s the respect?’ and went back to his house because he had to leave for work the next morning. At 2 o’clock it is a bit much. “The municipality will take action before it gets worse and I agree with them.” The order also prohibits them from parking on footpaths, obstructing footpaths with bicycles or ”using aggressive, threatening, foul or intimidating language”. They are also told not to fly, go to the toilet in public, park too close to other cars or play loud music during anti-social hours. The new rules are all part of the authority’s plan to target Bristol residents. Regulations were previously introduced to enable the council to continue them – but many have backfired. Van residents at another popular local site at Clifton Downs said the council was trying to “criminalize our lifestyle. Gareth Jones, 28, a clerical assistant, said: “It is concerning, not just for the lack of clarity in its wording . “It is indicative of a drive to criminalize our lifestyle. “I am generally concerned about an overly intrusive state apparatus and this makes you feel uncomfortable. “As soon as someone makes a fuss, there tends to be a clampdown. I’m surprised the locals are as good as they are with us being here. The council says the terms of the order are standard and aims to prevent residents who have made complaints from being harassed by the car dwellers. A Bristol City Council spokesman said it has created “temporary sites” on unused council land where residents can park. But they are not large enough to cope with the influx. They said: “Since November 2021 we have seen a steady increase in the number of occupied vehicles on Greenbank View, Eastville, increasing from three to more than 40 vehicles. “While the campsite had previously remained at the bottom of the road away from houses, it spread outside the homes of residents, which resulted in an increase in the number of complaints. “These included problems with blocked sidewalks, fires, waste and the improper disposal of human waste. “Previous requests to remove vehicles from the pavement have not been met, and multiple visits to the campsite have been made since November 2021. “The impact was re-assessed and is now considered high impact according to our car camping policy. ”The car camping policy allows us to take action in cases of anti-social behavior while we consider each situation on a case-by-case basis, so, after carrying out welfare checks, we are​​​​legal action started to move the cars from this site. “We want to balance the needs of everyone who lives in Bristol, both those who live in cars and residents, so our approach must be compassionate and fair. ”We continue to address the housing crisis, building 2,563 new homes last year, including more affordable homes than for any year in more than a decade. ”The residents of Greenbank View were previously offered 15 places in the meantime but they have not been taken up. ”There is now a big demand for places in our intermediate places, but they can still get on the waiting list for a place. The order was adopted on April 18 and will last until October.

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