Relief as travellers move on after illegal invasion of Eastville Park

May 08 2017

EASTVILLE Park is now back to its former glory following the departure of travellers who had been illegally occupying the nature spot.

EASTVILLE Park is now back to its former glory following the departure of travellers who had been illegally occupying the nature spot.

More than 20 caravans and vans set up home on April 13 after gaining access to a field near Muller Road.

Following reports from park users of aggressive incidents, the travellers were served with a trespass notice by Bristol City Council five days later and eventually moved off the site on April 25.

Council workers then set about a thorough a clean-up operation including placing bark in the woods which had been used as a makeshift toilet.

Richard Scantlebury, chairman of Friends of Eastville Park, said: "It's a relief they have gone.

"They left about four truck loads of rubbish and a transit van which has now been towed away. They had been using the woods by the M32 roundabout as a toilet and most of that area has had to have bark thrown over it and most of the toilet paper removed.

"It's back to almost how it was before they moved on there. You can tell by the grass that has been flattened that the area had been occupied but it's about 90 per cent back to how it should be."

Mr Scantlebury said the situation had raised questions about the site's security which now needed to be addressed.

"There had been tree trunks placed along Muller Road as a deterrent but all the travellers did was move some of the rotted trees and drive in. Apparently the council is going to put some large rocks in and I think they will be looking at this issue fairly closely in the coming months."

A Bristol City Council spokeswoman said: “We are looking at security options which are suitable for the park space. However, it is difficult to deter people who are determined to get access to land, and on other sites we have had security locks removed from gates.”

The occupation of the park by the travellers led to numerous complaints from residents of anti-social behaviour. 

Inger O'Callaghan, head teacher of Glenfrome Primary School, phoned police because she was concerned for the safety of pupils and parents walking through the park.

A junior parkrun due to take place on Easter Sunday was cancelled because caravans had parked over the route.

The same group of travellers have relocated to the Downs. They have been served trespass notices and the city council has started legal action to remove them.

The incident will not affect Love Saves The Day, a two-day music festival which will take place at the park on May 27-8.

THE occupation of the park by travellers has been especially upsetting for the Friends of Eastville Park, a group set up last year to improve the open space.

The organisation's main aim is to revamp the children's play area and a working party has now been set up to achieve this.

Chairman Richard Scantlebury said: "The play area needs a lot of work. It's been neglected over the past few years so it's our main task for this year and next is to improve it. 

"We're aiming to create a play area which will be suitable for all ages and abilities.

"We've now established a working party to consult, plan and put together some funding."

The Friends have already applied to a crowdfunding scheme called the Better Bristol Campaign, which was set up to raise more than £1million for good causes in the city.

Work to improve and clean paths is ongoing and includes partnership work with ParkWork, an organisation which offers training and skills development to help people into work while at the same time improving the maintenance of Bristol's parks.

A grant of £200 from the Bristol Ornithological Club will pay towards putting up bird boxes around the park.

The group is also planning some volunteer Sunday events to clear rubbish and is hoping to get support from Bristol Waste for this initiative.

Planned council cuts of £450,000 to the annual city parks budget has put additional pressure on Friends groups which now have to work towards raising their own money to run and maintain Bristol's open spaces.

Eastville Park will play a large role in creating money for the city's park as it hosts large events such as Love Save The Day later this month and Tokyo World, in September.

"Maintenance for parks is pretty much cut to the bone," said Mr Scantlebury.

*The Friends of Eastville Park will hold their AGM on Saturday May 20 at All Saints Church Hall in Fishponds. It starts at 5.15pm and will be followed by a quiz night and a fish and chip supper.