Magistrates have made a decision on whether a large tent on a busy main road into Truro is allowed to stay following safety and obstruction concerns.  

The occupants of the tent, which is set up in a layby at the bottom of Arch Hill, Truro, appeared before magistrates at Truro Magistrates Court on Wednesday to give evidence as to why they think that the location of the tent is not a distraction, nor a nuisance to members of the public.

Cornwall Council applied to the court for the tent to be disposed of, or removed, as "an obstruction of the highway in accordance with sections 149 of the Highways Act 1980."

The occupants of the tent said they were first made aware of the council's intentions on February 22, 2024 – less than two months since the tent was set up in that location.

Council solicitor Kingsley Keat said that the tent was not in an appropriate place and is a distraction to drivers. He also noted the speed limit on that road is 60mph.  

It was also noted that there have been concerns about the amount of rubbish left around the site, as well as the identification of human waste.

However, one of the occupants of the tent, giving evidence on behalf of himself and his partner, explained why they felt that the location of the tent wasn’t in a dangerous location.

He said that the tent was located on the lay-by at the bottom of the hill, and before even getting to the tent there was a bollard, a lamppost, and a tree in the way.

He also stated under oath that the rubbish and faeces found at the site did not belong to them. He said: “We keep it very clean and have cleared the rubbish ourselves.

“The rubbish and faeces are not ours. We have a toilet and a portable toilet.”

The couple, who said they both have various health issues, told magistrates that they have only had one issue with drivers since being there, and that it had been reported to the police.

After the occupant gave his evidence, magistrates retired to discuss whether the application by the council should be approved or not.

After five to ten minutes, they returned and explained that they had listened to the occupants' evidence and the statement from Mr Keat, but decided that there was no evidence to prove that the tent was causing danger, distractions, or nuisance.

Magistrates approved the area for living in and dismissed Cornwall Council’s application for removal of the tent.