Roadside camps could therefore result in the seizure of vehicles, larger fines and the potential for prison time, affecting the lives of Gypsy, Roma, Traveller communities, as well as people sleeping rough.
Jeffrey Thompson, 29, who describes himself as their ‘Head Gypsy Traveller’, said the proposed bill is affecting traveller culture.
“To be honest with you, I feel upset because travellers are a minority, a very small minority in a very large community. This is affecting us because it is our culture, it is our ideals,” the father-of-five said.
Cradling a young toddler on his knees, he added: “This child here will grow up horses by the side of the road just like I did.”
Mr Thompson also responded to residents’ concerns about how long they would be staying at the Brockworth car park. It is due to reopen on April 12 at the earliest, if the Government’s lockdown exit road map continues as planned.
Mr Thompson said: “We are moving tomorrow. We travel all around the UK, it is part of our culture and yes, we do park illegally and we are aware of that. Police are aware of it. We do not mean to cause any harm and we are leaving it tidy.
“We are gypsies, we live on wheels. We are here today and gone tomorrow. We are sorry for any inconvenience we have caused any local people or business owners.”
Gloucestershire Police’s Force Control Room were not able to confirm whether they knew about the travellers’ presence at the site.
A protest in Bristol on Wednesday (March 24) was set up in support of the travelling communities’ ‘right to reside’.
It began peacefully but protests are currently illegal under lockdown rules. Riot police, dog handlers and mounted officers broke up the demonstration.
They’ve been a number of violent protests since.