Posted: Sep 28, 2009
A NATIONAL organisation has thrown its weight behind proposals to formally designate a section of a popular beach for naturists.
British Naturism has backed proposals by the Three Rivers Outdoor Club to create a naturist beach at Seaton Carew, in Hartlepool.
The group says there are several bonuses linked to nudist beaches and naturism is associated with lower teenage pregnancy rates and fewer cases of eating disorders.
Hartlepool Borough Council was approached to designate the south end of the beach, adjacent to Seaton Carew Golf Club, as a "clothing optional" area.
Civic chiefs are due to meet tomorrow morning to discuss the proposals.
British Naturism is a national organisation with 12,000 members and it claims a naturist section could bring added health bonuses.
Brian Taylor, a spokesman for the organisation, said: "Although this request has not come from British Naturism we obviously support it.
"It is a sad fact that increasing prejudice sometimes makes the creation of an 'official' beach desirable, even though UK law allows nudity in public places provided it is not aggressive.
"Beaches are, of course, for everyone and clothed users are welcome to join the naturists provided they are not there for purely voyeuristic reasons.
"A common misconception is that naturism is not family-friendly where the truth is quite the opposite. There is strong evidence that naturism promotes a healthier body-image in children and is associated with lower teenage pregnancy rates and fewer cases of eating disorders."
The Three Rivers Outdoor Club, which has around 30 members, claim naturists are an "oft-misunderstood minority group".
They say there are no designated beaches in the North East and approval could bring a boost to the local economy.
Council chiefs have consulted with Natural England and Cleveland Police who both had concerns.
Natural England said "ordinary visitors using the area for exercise, recreation and education would be likely to be deterred by the presence of naturists," while the police also voiced reservations.
But, other consultation feedback has been "remarkably positive and suggests a view that 'each to their own' should prevail", according to the report.
Councillor Victor Tumilty, the portfolio holder for culture, leisure and tourism, is expected to meet at the Civic Centre in the morning to discuss the proposal.
In a report to the meeting John Mennear, the council's assistant director of community services, said the "tourism potential" should not be overlooked.
He added that the issue needs to be looked at further and the recommendation is for Coun Tumilty to note the report and to go on site visit.
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