College Green

>College Green is to be reopened to the public for when temperatures start to rise in Bristol next month

College Green is to be reopened to the public for when temperatures start to rise in Bristol next month.

From 15 October 2011 until late January 2012 College Green was home to a camp of protestors, who were a part of the world-wide Occupy Movement.

A Bristol county court ruling on 13 January 2012 ordered the eviction of all protestors from the landmark site. The legal action was taken by Bristol City Council and the Dean of the Cathedral, Reverend David Hoyle, who owns the green.

The camp was cleared peacefully on 31 January without any opposition from Occupy protestors, who accepted the eviction and most of whom had already vacated the public open space several days before. Bailiffs went to the site to remove any remaining protestors; finding only one homeless gentleman living in one of the shacks. This marked the start of the clean-up and restoration project.

Bristol City Council, who are responsible for the maintenance of the green, along with May Gurney, a company that specialises in maintenance services were responsible for the clean-up operation. Occupy Bristol said they wanted to do the clean-up themselves using the “several hundred pounds” they raised during their protest. They claimed that if Bristol City Council were to do the job it would cost the taxpayer.

The cost of the clean-up and restoration however was initially estimated by Bristol City Council at £13,500, an amount which Occupy Bristol protestor and spokesperson, Tony Cripps described as “ridiculous.” These disputes over cost were finally resolved on St Valentine’s Day, through a loving gesture by two local contracting companies, who are charging £4000 for the task.

Tony Cripps insisted that Occupy Bristol is not dead but is merely resting and rethinking its strategies. Occupy protestors around the world are presently confronting the current political systems, opposing economic injustice and are calling for a fairer society and a new way of thinking. Protest camps – similar to that on College Green – exist throughout the world, in 82 different countries. Bristol’s was the biggest in the UK outside of London.

Occupy Bristol are planning another similar protest in May later this year in a different city centre location. Mr Cripps also insisted that the needles found during the clean-up were used by a protestor with diabetes to treat his condition, rather than for drugs, as was implied in the media and by Bristol City Council.

It has recently been revealed that nine of the fourteen squatters, who were a part of the Bristol Occupy movement, are currently residing in a Clifton Mansion worth approximately £3 million.

The leader of Bristol’s City Council Barbara Janke expects that College Green, which is currently fenced off and inaccessible to the public, will be reopened for when the good weather is expected to return in early April for the Easter season. Before then, the soil will be de-contaminated, the ground re-turfed and the grass re-grown.

Paul Campbell