Protestors turned out to foil the intended eviction of a group of travellers on an industrial site in Bristol this morning (November 9).
The group, residing on the site in Montpelier, off Picton Lane, said they had been served notice the day before the country went into a second Covid-19 lockdown on November 4 to leave the area, with a deadline of 7am this morning (November 9).
The current lockdown guidelines indicate that bailiffs should not carry out evictions from land unless “in the most serious circumstances”, and protesters took to the street to meet bailiffs this morning and stop what they perceived to be an illegal eviction.
Signs hanging from walls on the street bore slogans such as “eviction 5 days into lockdown??!!” and “squat the lot” in support of the traveller group.
Sarah, a member of the group currently residing on the site, gave a statement this morning indicating that they did not believe the situation constituted such an emergency and saying that any eviction should be carried out by a court order, which they had not been issued.
The statement given this morning said: “We are a group of travellers and friends currently residing on a city centre site in Bristol in caravans.
“Just one day before the second lockdown, we were given notice to leave by 7am this morning (November 9) by a certain bailiff company.
“The notice was not a court order and even included a spelling mistake.
“The owner of the land we are on has been applying for permission to build apartments and offices for years, with applications going back to 2017.
“We are sure these would not be affordable flats and locals oppose them.
“All of these applications have been rejected and this land has been staying empty for years, excluding another group of vehicle dwellers who were evicted about 18 months ago.
“The current lockdown guidelines state that evictions mustn’t happen unless it is a case of emergency.
“We don’t think this situation is an emergency at all. No planning permission has been accepted and we have just started a second lockdown.
“Criminal cases fall under emergency in these guidelines, however this is a civil matter.
“We have been seeking support today as we expected the bailiffs to be aggressive. We feel we must resist and that our demands should be met: one, to have contact with the owner; two, to be allowed to remain until the end of lockdown; and three, if an eviction must happen, we want it to be done by proper means and via a court order.”
Protesters did appear at the site on Picton Lane to obstruct the eviction at around 7.30am this morning, and the bailiffs who went to the scene ended up leaving the scene shortly afterwards.
It is not understood that there was any violence, and Sarah told Bristol Live later in the day that bailiffs had since told the travellers they would be issuing a court order and continuing the matter through legal means.
She also said the group were “just trying to find ourselves somewhere to reside happily”.
She said: “The bailiffs did show up but they saw the protesters here and they turned round and left again – I think they might have realised it wasn’t a viable option for them.
“They have since told us they will be going through the proper legal channels.
“If they tell us to leave we will leave, but if we fight it and they say we can stay then we will stay.
“We just want it to be done properly if it’s going to be done.
“We’re just trying to find ourselves somewhere to reside happily and safely, where we can keep ourselves to ourselves really.”