Downs campaign group meets local MP
by Keri Beckingham
A FED-UP group of residents has met with Bristol North West MP Darren Jones in regard to the increasing number of vehicles using the Downs as a campsite.
As previously reported in The Voice, the ‘Respect The Downs’ group says that the ever-increasing numbers of semi-permanent van dwellers and traveller incursions on Clifton and Durdham Downs – and the apparently laissez faire attitude taken by the Mayor and Bristol City Council towards their removal – has impacted huge numbers of local residents and users of this iconic part of Bristol during the last few years. They say that inconsistent or non-enforcement of by-laws and council policies has directly contributed to the issue, and that the Downs now features as a free place to stay on Camper Van websites.
Respect The Downs plan to harness the growing levels of frustration felt by many of those who live near and/or use the Downs for the range of activities for which this part of Bristol is intended, and will provide a much-needed ‘hub’ for up to date information about what is being done to expedite removal of any traveller camps and van dwellers that appear on the Downs. Additionally it will act as a focal point for documenting and sharing any incidents of anti-social behaviour, harassment and intimidation that may occur during an incursion. Supporters will be asked to provide details and photographs/video footage of any such incidents and to report all of these by calling 101, the Police non-emergency telephone number.
Since our last report, the group now has over 400 subscribing supporters from postcodes throughout Bristol, who are all expressing the opinion that this problem cannot be left on the doorsteps of residents and needs action from Bristol City Council. In addition, the group also met with MP Darren Jones on February 8 to discuss their concerns.
Commenting on the latest developments, a spokesperson for Respect The Downs said: “A meeting with MP Darren Jones on 8 Feb proved interesting, though did indicate that there are still some misconceptions by both the Mayor and MPs over the thoughts and feelings of the residents.
“Respect The Downs have also petitioned the Mayor, Darren Jones and Bristol City Council to create specific pay-as-you-use managed sites for van dwellers so that effective waste management and sanitation is assured, proper registration of inhabitants and access to welfare options to those who need them are available where required.
“To leave all of the above on the doorsteps of residents is irresponsible. As yet, the Mayor, BCC and Darren Jones have not offered any options or comments.”
To find out more about Respect The Downs and their campaign, visit: www.respectthedowns.co.uk