Anger as south Bristol car boot sale is cancelled because of traveller encampment

The situation has prompted the three local councillors to issue a statement
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Travellers illegally camped on council-owned land in south Bristol faced the wrath of some in the car boot sale community after the event had to be cancelled because the caravans were on the site.

The group of travellers moved on to Hengrove Park, near to the former airfield, at the start of this month. Their presence prompted local councillors to inform Bristol City Council and urge people not to confront the community.

However, feelings became heated at the weekend when the popular Whitchurch car boot sale, which takes place at Hengrove Park every Saturday, had to be cancelled. The event had been called off the previous two weekends due to the weather.

Less than three hours before the car boot sale was due to start on Saturday, the organisers made the announcement. Asked if the situation was a ‘nightmare’, the organisers responded: “Yes it is. Been [the travellers] on it for two weeks. Tried to get it at the last min yesterday.”

One person then wrote: “So annoying. Council should evict them and hurry up moving them on.” Another said: “Surely it doesn’t take this long too get them off. They wonder why they’re not wanted anywhere, they cause trouble and leave rubbish everywhere.”

It is believed that the cancellation of the event resulted in more people attending Marksbury Car Boot Sale on Sunday.

Yesterday, the three Lib Dem councillors for the Hengrove and Whitchurch Park ward issued a statement on the situation. Tim Kent, Andrew Brown and Sarah Classick said the city council was to seek a possession order from the courts tomorrow to serve a possession order to the group of travellers today.

The caravans arrived on Hengrove Park at the start of the month The caravans arrived on Hengrove Park at the start of the month
The caravans arrived on Hengrove Park at the start of the month

The statement read: “Firstly we would like to thank local residents for their patience and understanding during this unlawful encampment. We have continued to pursue council officers and the police to use their powers to end this encampment.

“We hope that this will bring the matter to a close quickly.”

Earlier this year, Bristol City Council revealed plans to create between six and eight permanent pitches for gypsy and travellers on fenced off land in Western Drive, off Hengrove Way - close to where the travellers are located.

There are 12 permanent pitches in the city, but the council needs to triple by next year. A count of the number of traveller caravans pitched in Bristol at the start of the year showed there were 24 caravans in the city - down from 33 the year before.

Last week, travellers also set up camp on The Downs - but this did not impact the annual Race for Life event which took place on Sunday.