Travellers set up unauthorised camps on two sections of the Downs

The groups were served trespass notices but haven’t moved on

Traveller groups have set up illegal encampments on two separate sections of the Downs in Bristol.

Dozens of unauthorised caravans arrived at the Clifton and Sea Walls sections of the Downs last week and remain there as of this afternoon (Wednesday, August 3).

It is understood that both groups were served with trespass notices by Bristol City Council’s Gypsy Roma Traveller team on Friday.

As the travellers still haven’t moved on, the authority will have to apply to the courts for an order to remove them, which could take up to three weeks.

Councillor for Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze and member of the Downs Committee, Steve Smith, said that traveller groups set up encampments on the Downs around three to four times a year.

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Unauthorised travellers on the Clifton side of the Downs this morning.

He told BristolWorld: “In terms of the impact on residents it varies massively. Some groups don’t cause any problems at all and within few days, they move on.

“Some groups do cause damage, intimidate people and leave litter behind. I think some residents are intimidated just by the travellers just being there.

“I haven’t heard of the current group causing any problems, though.”

Coun Smith added that Bristol City Council had previously attained a 12-month court order that allowed the authority to remove traveller groups from the Downs.

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However, during lockdown it expired. The authority is apparently in the process of pinning down the same long-standing court order but this can be a tricky process and is at the discretion of the court.

Bristol City Council currently provide two sites for travellers at Ashton Vale and Lawrence Weston.

There are also a number of ‘meanwhile’ sites for vehicle dwellers who are living kerbside in the city.

BristolWorld has contacted Bristol City Council for more information on this and is awaiting their response.