It's Pants! Hampstead Heath nude sunbathers dealt a blow
A BARE-FACED campaign to double the size of the nude sunbathing area on Hampstead Heath has hit the buffers. More than 1,000 supporters have signed a petition calling for a large part of the changing area at the men s swimming pond to be al
A BARE-FACED campaign to double the size of the nude sunbathing area on Hampstead Heath has hit the buffers.
More than 1,000 supporters have signed a petition calling for a large part of the changing area at the men's swimming pond to be allocated to nude sunbathers.
But the Hampstead Heath consultative committee is set to recommend on March 8 that Heath managers the City of London refuses the proposal.
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It comes as a blow to the campaign backed by comedian Julian Clary and human rights protester Peter Tatchell.
Campaign leader Michael Peacock has vowed to fight on until the naturists' voices are heard.
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He said: "This is not over. I will also be contacting British Naturism. It is not acceptable. This is over two years now and it feels like what was the point? I thought they were finally listening. I thought finally we were getting somewhere. I am just gobsmacked."
The move has been opposed by a number of the Heath's swimming groups, including the Kenwood Ladies' Pond Association, Highgate Lifebuoys and the United Swimmers Association.
Last year, Heath bosses produced a damning report on the possibility of increasing the area for nudists. They suggested that the sight of nude sunbathers could be offensive to some people, particularly to parents who use the facility.
But managers wanted extra time for consultation before they made their decision.
Malcolm Boura, of British Naturism, tried to complain to Heath managers.
He said: "We are surprised and disappointed that we were not consulted with at an early stage as the appropriate national representative body.
"At present, there is no provision for naturists in London apart from the changing area at Hampstead ponds.
"This near total lack of provision is in stark contrast to many other European cities.
But Robert Sutherland Smith, of the United Swimmers Association, said: "I think their suggestion is both rational and sensible.
"In the heat of summer, the pond area becomes intensely crowded. There is just not enough space.
"It was designed as a space for a changing area for swimmers and that is how it should remain.
"The nudists don't make the best use of their area either. They go there and lay about all day on the floor - whereas swimmers come and go. You can't do both there."
A City of London spokesman said: "Following consultation, the recommendation remains that the petitioners' proposal to approximately double the area available for nude sunbathing should not be supported.
"The primary purpose of the men's pond is to provide swimming facilities and nude sunbathing is an ancillary activity.
"The City of London has a duty to ensure that the needs of all groups are considered and to achieve a balanced approach."