In this episode of the EarthRights podcast, Mel is joined by fellow vehicle dweller, Juliet Murray, to discuss life on the road, fighting against eviction and protecting the rights of vehicle dwellers within the wider Gypsy, Roma, Travller community.
***Juliet and Mel recorded this a few weeks ago, the Community with Mel representing has since gone to court, but it was adjourned for want of trial papers from the Council… They will be heading to court again on Thursday 7th July***
For some context, Mel has been converting and living in a van for the past year. She joined a vehicle dwelling community at Greenbank View in Easton, Bristol, over winter and there she met Juliet, a youth worker and environmental activist.
On April 5th, the Greenbank community were paid an uncomfortable visit by Bristol City Council pacing notices on their vehicles directing them to leave, under s.77 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPOA) within a week. The reasoning behind this direction to leave was extremely vague.
Threatened, confused, and alarmed bythe possibility of eviction, the community convened in a caravan and discussed what to do.
The group decided primarily they wanted to remain together to maintain support and ensure no one would be rendered unsafe. Mel, thanks to her experience in the legal world, decided to research and understand how the law may negatively impact the group; and conversely, how to use the legal system to invoke positive change for the group and aim to set precedent for the wider GRT community.
With legal backing, the group has since been in the process of opposing the Council. Mel, Juliet and their friends believe it is important to use their energy and skills to help the wider GRT community, which faces systemic discrimination and now also faces criminalisation for their way of life under the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 (PCSC Act).
This roadside conversation between Juliet and Mel therefore presents their experiences interacting with the council, the cyclical nature of the enforcement proceedings, limitations of the law, and how to stay energised and stand their ground.
Mel will be following up this episode with resources, information and contacts for vehicle dwellers, GRT and NFA (no fixed abode) communities facing eviction and insufficient support from local councils…
In the meantime, here are a few links:
– Friends, Families and Travellers
– Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 (PCSC Act)
– Guide to PCSC Act for GRT, New Travellers and Vehicle Dwellers