Van dweller numbers climb post lockdown

July 30 2020

VAN dwellers are on the rise again locally after their numbers fell during the coronavirus lockdown.
Details were revealed in a written response to questions put to city mayor Marvin Rees by Councillor Steve Smith at this month’s full council meeting.
Five encampments in the city are assessed as having a “high impact” by officers from the council and Avon and Somerset Police.
The  encampments are in Maurice Road next to St Andrew’s Park in St Andrew’s, Kellaway Avenue, Co-operation Road in Greenbank, Parry’s Lane on Durdham Downs, Mina Road and nearby streets in St Werburgh’s.
Whether van dwellers are having a high or low impact on the neighbourhood is assessed using evidence generally derived from police and witness statements, photographs and videos, and officer observations, the council said.
“There has been an increase in previously unrecorded vehicles in Bristol,” according to the official response supplied for the July 7 council meeting.
“A number of new arrivals have said that they would normally be working at festivals over the summer but as these have been cancelled are looking for alternative employment.
“This is a citywide issue and one that doesn’t have a simple solution. There are many reasons people live in vehicles: accommodation costs, complex needs of some vehicle dwellers and sometimes it is a lifestyle choice.”
Under the new policy, the council responds in various ways to people living in vehicles on roads, from helping them find alternative accommodation to enforcement action against those causing antisocial problems.