“Brian Meekle’s caravan is parked beside the M32 motorway that cuts through the eastern half of Bristol. Meekle has been living there for the past two months because he doesn’t earn enough from the 33-to-45-hour weeks he works at a nearby retail warehouse to pay the rent for a flat.
“The rents in Bristol have rocketed,” he says above the roar of lorries and cars. “I am doing agency work but it could dry up on Monday. It’s all minimum wage stuff.” Meekle’s temporary home is in a ramshackle line of 16 caravans and vans. There are at least seven other vehicle encampments in the city, including in wealthy neighbourhoods such as Clifton Down. Bristol city council estimates that around 200 people are sleeping in vehicles across the city.
While some of them enjoy the freedom of life on the road, many are low-paid workers who have been priced out of Bristol, which has in recent years experienced some of the fastest-rising rents and house prices of any city.
Rents in Bristol have gone up by 33% over the past four years, according to the government’s Valuation Office Agency. A one-bedroom flat in the city now costs on average £795 a month. “There are a lot of people in this situation that don’t want to be,” says Meekle. “But it’s better to have a roof over your head than be out on the streets.”
He will soon be forced to move on to a new road because the council has served all the vans and caravans with eviction notices following complaints of antisocial behaviour. …”