Agenda item

Vehicle Dwellers Encampment Policy Consultation

Minutes:

Penny Germon, Neighbourhoods & Communities Service Manager, delivered a presentation (the slides are included in the published pack).

 

The following are some of the key discussion points:

·         Selective and Additional licencing schemes in Bristol

·         Numbers of vehicle dwellers have increased significantly.

·         There is a need for a policy for managing vehicle encampments on the highway.

·         The consultation outcomes shows a similar number agreeing and disagreeing with the proposed approach; and a clear majority support 9 out of the 10 criteria to assess impact:

o   The nature, suitability or obtrusiveness of the encampment.

o   The level of any nuisance including noise.

o   The number, validity and seriousness of any complaints.

o   The level of damage caused by the occupiers.

o    Proximity to residential properties

o   Proximity to  schools, children’s play and public amenities

o   The size and concentration of the encampment

o   Human and domestic waste management

o   General crime and public order offences.

 

·         There is a need for a policy for managing vehicle encampments on the highway.

 

The Chair asked about the cost of providing sites, whether they would be self-financing or Council funded

 

Officer response:

o   Sites would need to be self-sufficient. 

 

A Member raised the point that geographical locations of the sites are important, and that we need to know where people will tolerate sites across the City.

Officers’ responses:

o   There was not a reference to alternative sites in the consultation

o   A number of van dwellers from Greenbank went to Avonmouth site.

 

 

Discussion about definition of Vehicle Dweller encampments and how they are distinct from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller encampments.  Officers’ key points:

 

o   The Vehicle Dwelling Encampment Policy covers all vehicles, whether or not they can be moved, including caravans.

o   Where people living in vehicles do not self-describe as Gypsies Roma’s and Travellers, local authorities have no specific duties towards them such as the provision of a designated transit site.  The Council has a separate protocol with the police for managing unauthorised Gypsy, Roma and Traveller encampments

o   Vehicle dwellers tend to remain (live and work) within a locality; whereas Gypsy Roma and Travellers are generally more transient (although it is recognised that this does not exclude those who are living in houses as being Gypsy Roma and Traveller, as the person’s ethnic identity is not lost when members of the communities settle).  It is the case that a Gypsy and Traveller site does not have permanent residents, as the maximum stay is for 13 weeks.   

o   Most vehicle dwellers live and work in Bristol. 

 

Cabinet Member:  most vehicle dwellers want to live in central Bristol, although this is difficult with parking restrictions. 

 

A Member asked if the Avonmouth site is cost neutral.  Officer response:

o   It is cost neutral. The Vehicle Dwellers on site pay for facilities. The Council owns the land. Going to market for lease.  The Council has a possession order and the Vehicle Dwellers will leave when there is an occupant.

 

A Member asked how the new policy is a change.  Officer response:

o   Main change is the level of monitoring. As soon as vehicle dwellers encampment is identified the Council will engage with the occupants using a process for consistency, including arranging welfare assessments, assessing impact on the community, arranging outreach, and taking enforcement action if required. 

 

A Member asked about enforcement.  Officer response:

o   In Greenbank, Removal Orders were used, as well as Injunctions

o   The impact of someone in a car is a concern but not as high impact as the larger vehicles.  

Supporting documents: