A controversial group of ‘van dwellers’ living in vehicles along a city’s roadsides have sparked further anger – by pitching tents next to a war memorial.
Dozens of people have been living in vans parked on the side of the road near a cemetery in Easton, Bristol for a year.
The van dwellers are taking advantage of a legal loophole which says as long as their vehicle is taxed and has an MOT the authorities cannot move them on.
A controversial group of ‘van dwellers’ living in vehicles along a city’s roadsides have sparked anger by pitching tents next to a war memorial (pictured next to the tents)
Dozens of people have been living in vans parked on the side of the road near a cemetery in Easton, Bristol for a year
But Michael Dunn, who lives in nearby Carraway Gardens, says tents have now been put up near a war memorial in Rosemary Green.
Mr Dunn, 36, said: ‘They’ve got 40 vans lying there and it’s spread over into the park. They’ve set up next to a war memorial. There’s four tents there currently.
‘It’s disgusting. I don’t know if there’s not enough room for them in the vans or they’ve just want to have a tent in the park. Something needs to be done.’
Mr Dunn says the tents have been there for around six weeks and he has reported them to the council and the police.
Bristol City Council said an outreach team for people sleeping rough will visit the tents but admitted there is little it can do about van dwellers parked legally.
There are around 40 vans parked on the side of the road in Greenbank View, as well as in other sites across Bristol including St Werburgh’s and Bedminster.
The van dwellers are taking advantage of a legal loophole which says as long as their vehicle is taxed and has an MOT the authorities cannot move them on
Bristol City Council admitted there is little it can do about it since its legal
During a public meeting held last October, many residents were sympathetic to the van dwellers who were ‘finding a solution to the massive housing problem’ while others raised concerns about public defecation and use of the cemetery’s public toilet after hours.
A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: ‘We have recently been made aware of the tents on Rosemary Green and they will now be visited by the St Mungo’s Outreach Team who we commission to provide support to people sleeping rough.
‘We are also aware of the occupied vans in the area however whilst the council has received complaints, we are limited in how we can respond. Without parking restrictions we are limited by national law in what we can do to enforce moving these kinds of vans which are parked legally.
‘Our colleagues in enforcement are currently working on a strategy which would give us new ways of dealing with long-term occupied vehicles. In the meantime, instances of anti-social or criminal behaviour should be reported to the police.’