Bristol's College Green clean-up begins after Occupy eviction

The city council has begun clearing College Green of debris

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A clear-up operation has begun at Bristol's College Green after an eviction of Occupy protesters was carried out by the city council.

Only one person was moved off by bailiffs as many had already left the site after a county court ruling said they should be made to go.

The land is owned by Bristol Cathedral but maintained by the city council and has been occupied for three months.

The city council has estimated it will cost £20,000 to restore the green.

'Brown to green'

The legal action was taken jointly by the city council and the Dean of Bristol, the Very Reverend David Hoyle.

"I've got bit of sympathy for people who are raising important issues but I don't have a lot of sympathy for the unlawful occupation," said Dean Hoyle.

"It was eye-catching but Occupy found they rapidly had a problem with the homeless community and others moving on to site and they got a raft of problems like drugs and drink.

"It's been an extraordinarily difficult three months."

At the scene

Shortly after the formal eviction of a lone protester at the site, a fleet of refuse vehicles accompanied by a platoon of waste collectors in orange overalls moved on to College Green.

Initially, they were searching the site for signs of drugs and needles after reports that the camp had been used for drug taking.

Then the clean-up team turned their attention to removing piles of rubbish - wooden pallets, tyres and rugs - that had been left littering the area.

Their work also involved removing the portable toilets that the city council had installed and shovelling away debris that had been left behind in the mud where the camp had once been.

About a third of College Green has been left looking like a mud bath.

Council spokesman, Peter Holt, said: "To be fair to the occupiers they have done a lot of tidying up, all of the tents were gone, the caravan had gone.

"There were two sizeable pretty solid structures and there was just one person there sleeping there who had to be evicted.

"We've put fences up today to allow for the clean-up - there's a lot of painstaking work ahead to make sure the needles and drug paraphernalia are cleared, and after that and we need to get the grass back from brown to green."

The council has also called on the Occupy Bristol movement to "hand over grass seed/turf donation fund cash today" on Twitter.

It is not known how much money was raised by the movement to help restore the land.

The leader of Bristol City Council, Barbara Janke, said: "The protest has raised some important issues and we have listened and responded to those.

"However, the concerns around their continued presence in such a well loved space justify today's action to remove the last few protesters who decided not to leave voluntarily."

Peter Hammond, the leader of the Labour opposition at the council, said: "I'm very sad in one sense it's reached this particular point but unfortunately the eviction progress became inevitable after the issues were no longer around social injustice and greed but became a bit of a debate around the camp itself and the state of the camp."

The BBC has tried to contact people who were part of the movement but no-one was available for comment.

The protesters, part of an international movement calling for a fairer society, had been camped on College Green since 15 October.

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