Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Campaigners fight to save homeless campers from eviction

Ten people have erected tents in Peel St Park Photo: ITV News

A group of homeless people who've set up camp on council land in Bristol are trying to raise funds to help them fight eviction.

Almost a dozen people have been living in tents in a part in Easton for the last five months.

Now, they've not only been told that they must they leave the park - but that they also might not be able to sleep rough anywhere else in the city.

Ten people have erected tents in Peel St Park Credit: ITV News

The council has launched legal action to force them to leave, not just Peel St Park but all council owned land and public open spaces in the city. The measure is meant to try to prevent them moving to other parks nearby, but the group say they have no where else to go.

One of the rough sleepers says he is a former soldier who almost died in Afghanistan. Also among the campers is Magic Urbanowicz - we met him earlier this year when he was evicted from a self-made straw house on the banks of the Severn.

Maciej Urbanowicz built this house by harvesting reeds from marshland - but had to leave in March Credit: ITV News

Mr Urbanowicz says the injunction would essentially force them to leave the city - and bring them away from their family or friends.

Many of the group say they're being forced to live in tents after being told by the council that they have no local connections.

The Council owns the land and is entitled to possession - but critics say the injunction is too harsh.

A fundraising campaign has now started to try to help the group argue their case legally. Credit: ITV News

Eviction is fine - the land belongs to someone else, sooner or later you're going to have to move on.

But what the council is doing in taking out an injunction against persons unknown, that not just bans them from parks but from any open land - it's draconian and counter-productive.

– Richard, Bristol Housing Action Movement
Bristol City Council says it will work to make sure those camping on the land are supported. Credit: ITV News

A fundraising campaign has now started to try to raise £1500 to help the group hire a lawyer to fight their case. They've got nearly £1000 so far, enough to engage a solicitor.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said that the people camped in the park have all been offered the support of an outreach team, and that they'll work to make sure the homeless have access to help and accommodation.

We do not permit camping or sleeping rough in tents within our parks and open spaces.

However, the Council and its partners understand that sometimes tents or temporary shelters are erected by vulnerable individuals in need of help and support.

– Bristol City Council

"The individuals encamped on the land have all been offered the support of St Mungo’s Outreach Team which is commissioned by the Local Authority to provide support to people sleeping rough."

"This support is ongoing but the process of removing the individuals from the land has to begin which is why notices have been served.”