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01st Jul 2023

Man forced out of home of 45 years in ‘no fault eviction’ misses it so much he camps outside

Steve Hopkins

Gary has been cooking on a gas stove and the neighbours bring him cups of tea

A man who was forced out of his home of 45 years in a ‘no fault eviction’ missed it so much he has returned to live in a tent on the lawn out front.

Gary Lambert was booted out of his three-bed ex-council house in Bristol earlier this month by baliffs that he had lived in since 1978.

The forklift operator was offered an emergency solution but said the homeless accommodation was drug-infested and left him on the brink of depression.

So four days after being made to leave his long-standing home in Stockwood, the 63-year-old has returned to his former community – and set up camp on the lawn in front of it.

Gary has now been living in the one-man tent outside his old home for nearly three weeks – cooking meals on a gas stove and having cups of tea brought to him by his neighbours.

He claims no one from the council has even spoken to him since he left the shelter despite him having a series of pre-existing health conditions like diabetes and COPD.

Gary explained: “We bought the home using right-to-buy and then my father sold it to the landlord who promised us we could stay for the rest of your life if you pay rent, don’t worry about it.

“We didn’t sign a contract, just a verbal agreement and obviously that isn’t strong enough in the law.

“It has been terrible.”

The “no-fault eviction” was carried out on 7 June and Gary was forced to wait until he was kicked out before Bristol City Council would offer him emergency accommodation on nearby Bath Road, Brislington.

Gary said the “terrible” drug and violence-ridden shelter sent him to the brink of depression and a nervous breakdown – so he declined an alternative hostel and walked out.

Despite the challenges of living in a tent, Gary says he’s pleased to be back among old neighbours and friends.

He added: “I’m not able to sleep well in the tent, I keep waking up. The air mattress I’ve got keeps going down in the night as well.

“But luckily enough I’ve got brilliant neighbours. They bring me cups of tea, toast and if I need a bit of washing done they’ll do it for me.

“They come out to chat to me and bring me meals, good proper meals like cottage pie and pork chops with mashed potato and carrots.

“My brother lives next door and he brings out tea and sandwiches, and one of my neighbours gave me a tent to store things in as well.

“I’ve got a portable gas stove and I cook bacon on there and things like that.”

Gary plans to camp out “as long as I can.”

“It can be raining, damp and cold here,” he explained.

“There was one night when the rain was coming through my tent and I was just there shivering. I couldn’t stop.

“I’ve caught two chest infections while I’ve been here.

“I got over one but the tent gets so moist on the mornings with the dew that I caught another, so I’m on antibiotics and steroids.”

Gary has applied for several flats via HomeChoice, the council’s rehousing app, but says he has not heard anything about them or had anyone from the council come and talk to him since he left the shelter.

He is unable to work because of his health conditions and a letter written by his GP says he needs to be re-housed soon to stop his health issues from getting worse.

Gary said: “I don’t think I could hack it in winter because of my health problems but I don’t want to move out of Stockwood. It’s my home.

“I haven’t seen the landlord since I was evicted.

“No one from the council has come to see me here. If they did I’d tell them I’ve worked all my life and always paid my taxes. The one time I need their help they won’t help me.”

Bristol City Council was approached for comment.

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