Travellers at an illegal encampment alongside Bradley Stoke Way have today begun their second week of occupation, despite being given 24 hours to leave the site on Tuesday last week.
Four caravans and a number of other vehicles moved onto the roadside verge near Primrose Bridge last Monday morning. They were joined by a fifth caravan a few days later.
Bradley Stoke town councillors were told last week that its was “anticipated that the caravans would move [off] either on Wednesday or Thursday,” but the predicted departure failed to materialise.
On Friday (20th June), Cllr Ben Walker, who has been vigorous in his condemnation of the encampment, tweeted that he had been led to understand that it would be “dispersed within the next couple of days”, but there was no sign of an imminent departure this evening, three days later.
Also on Friday, local MP Jack Lopresti issued a statement saying he was “astonished” that South Gloucestershire Council (owners of the land being illegally occupied) was “refraining from pursuing legal action to remove the travellers”.
A statement provided to The Journal by South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) on Friday afternoon said simply:
“We issued a formal notice informing the travellers that they have no right to be on the land and requesting they leave. This is a precursor to legal action.”
More than a hundred comments on the story have been left by Journal readers on our website and Facebook page, with the majority being critical of the travellers and/or the council’s/police’s apparent lack of action in removing them. A small number of commenters have condemned the more extreme views as racist and/or bigoted, while two (Judi and Jennie) report that they have (separately) visited the travellers on the site and found them “polite and welcoming”, adding that the area appeared “clean and tidy”.
An allegation by a town councillor that the nearby Aldi supermarket had been the victim of a “looting” raid by travellers from the site was greeted with surprise by the duty manager at the store today (Monday 24th), although he said he would have to check with colleagues before giving a definitive response.
An assertion by the same councillor that travellers have been banned from the Hollow Tree public house, was, however, confirmed by the manager there. The ban was invoked after a group of around 30 travellers continued to “party” in the pub garden after closing time on Friday night, consuming their own drinks and playing loud music. The group is said to have been abusive to staff leaving the premises, urinated over the windows of the pub and left behind a large amount of litter that had to be cleared up by staff the following day.
UPDATE (6pm Tuesday 24th June):
Statement from Avon and Somerset Police:
We are committed to maintaining a safe neighbourhood for both the settled and the travelling community and are patrolling the area regularly.
We have had a report of anti-social behaviour at the Hollow Tree pub. Although we attended the pub, the matter was dealt with by the landlord, who has banned the individuals concerned. We have been made aware of the ban in case of any further issues.
We have had no increase in reported crime and the threshold has not been met for us to use our powers under the legislation to move the travellers on. The travellers are a family group with young children and have been in the area for the past few weeks. They have left their earlier sites in Filton, Cribbs Causeway and Aztec West clean and tidy and we have had no increase in reported crime in any of these areas.
The matter is currently being dealt with by South Gloucestershire Council which has issued a notice for the travellers to leave.
- Guide to effective use of enforcement powers, Part 1: unauthorised encampments (Home Office) [PDF]
- Travellers and the law (SGC)
- Council policy on traveller issues (SGC)
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