Published 20th May 2021 @ 15.06

Bristol UNISON is alarmed by the eviction of travellers and van dwellers from the Glenfrome Road site. We strongly urge that Wales & West Utilities instruct the bailiffs to cease the eviction immediately and allow people to return to their homes. We strongly oppose the deployment of police against Bristol citizens over a civil matter. The use of officers in riot gear, dog units, and refusing access to journalists is completely unacceptable and echoes the recent heavy-handed and disproportionate approach taken against the “Kill the Bill” protests.  

Evicting workers from their homes with only 24-hours’ notice before the arrival of “over one-hundred” bailiffs, when we are still in the throes of a global pandemic, is unacceptable. The government’s current renter eviction ban should be extended to include traveller communities, and bailiffs tasked with such duties should be refusing to perform them as a matter of human decency and solidarity. 

Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities are one of the most discriminated-against groups in all aspects of life and are some of the most deprived families in the country. Even in Bristol, which is generally considered a bastion of tolerance and diversity, the GRT community is regularly discriminated against and demonised by the local press. UNISON stands against racism in all its forms and demands that every community have their rights protected and are shown equal respect for their way of life. We will continue to fight against discrimination in the workplace and the community on behalf of a civilised notion of civil society. 

As the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill, currently at Committee Stage in the House of Commons, gets closer to becoming law we are all at increased threat of these kinds of scenes becoming commonplace. As it stands, the bill seeks to attack those already marginalised from society, such as traveller communities and other minority groups. Labour MPs have pointed out that this bill does nothing to address continuing racial bias and discrimination in the police. Instead, it presents a racist attack on travellers’ way of life, seeking to further limit roadside camps, allow the seizure and sale of vehicles and trailers, and move trespass from a civil to a criminal offence.

 

Press Enquiries should be directed to: bristol.unison@bristolunison.co.uk

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