Last October, the members of the Management Collective (ManCol for short) met in Worcestershire to discuss progress. Our friends in London have made excellent progress following the guidance published by the College of Policing on public nudity. We also discussed an advanced version of the proposed Survey of UK Naturism, which will be launched later this year.
By all means read the minutes in full.
Posted on behalf of John Paine.
Following a meeting of NAG’s supporters in, and around, London on 28th October and they discussed the potential sites for open space naturism other than Hampstead Heath. Talking about Hampstead Heath, they also discussed the brief media frenzy generated in May and the opinion poll of heath users conducted in June, with encouraging results.
Following the introduction of open space naturism in Paris, NAG London is discussing the possibility of making a visit; a fact-finding mission, bit like the one some of the Management Collective did to Munich, and to enjoy the day, of course.
Finally, they discuss the potential for a Christmas Dinner at The Oxford public house, Kentish Town Road.
More details can be found in the prepared leaflet and if you’d like more information then please email John.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 February 2018 and if you’d like to attend or to be added to the email distribution list then again, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later than intended, we are however, please to announce the publication of our second annual report that covers the period March 2015 to February 2016. It shows that we are moving forward, even if they are baby steps but look forward to taking some giant strides in the future.
Chairman, Naturist Action Group
A new update item on looking for open spaces suitable for naturism in London has been added. With the discussion on a Greater London National City Park we are now extending the search to cover all of Greater London, with details of how you may be able to help in the new item.
I will be the NAG co-ordinator on this and I have 40 years experience in community development. This will help to support volunteers.
With NAG launching its photo competition later this month and having nothing to pontificate on, I thought I’d take the opportunity to pick up on something that one of our supporters said recently: “I am happy to help [NAG], but I do have serious misgivings about NAG’s wish to promote the need for ‘dedicated outdoor naturist open space’. As you know, I believe that the attempt to get official recognition of specific naturist locations is misconceived. Official approval of one or two particular naturist places would simply reinforce the common perception that naturism must be unlawful everywhere else. In my view what is needed is a more general recognition that naturism is acceptable anywhere where it does not cause serious disturbance to others.”
The thing is, we don’t actually have a written policy on this and perhaps we should. As this is so central to our purpose, rather than dictate a policy from the top down, I’d like to give what my own view is – the one I’ve based NAG’s public stance on so far – and see if anyone disagrees? I appreciate that a good proportion of registered users are not resident in the UK, but your views and comments are just as welcome. Silence will be taken as tacit approval.
Here in the UK, in itself, being naked in a public place is not illegal but causing harassment, alarm or distress to others is. (Section 5, Public Order Act 1986) Recent amendments to the Section, which both NAG and BN made an input towards, has led to the word ‘insulting’ being removed from the text but Steve Gough’s legal action against the Director of Public Prosecutions appears to have muddied the water once again. What our project The London Question told us, is that it is difficult to find anywhere in a built up area that does not have the potential to ‘cause serious disturbance to others’ Yet, what our researchers also found is that – particularly in the larger open spaces in and around London – naturists are finding somewhere as discrete as possible to sunbath naked, which can lead to the type of confrontation that will do no one’s blood pressure any good.
I believe NAG will eventually persuade society that non-sexual nudity in a public place is not the ‘evil’ they believe it to be and even if they do not participate themselves, people will accept those who use the park space naked, wherever it may occur. Until that happens, however, I imagined what could happen now if managers for London’s open spaces accepted that nude sunbathing is already happening: an area – not defined by posts or notices – adjacent to a large body of water for swimming (perhaps) would be set aside for naturists, but not for their exclusive use. By not having fixed boundaries the size of this area can be adjusted according to its popularity on the day. Park police (or CPSO) will then be able to ask those found ‘outside the area’ to relocate, in order to protect them better, but they will not be able to arrest them unless an actual crime is being committed.
Similarly, I believe that all beaches in the UK should be clothes optional. This is similar to the policy in Denmark and there, it is generally accepted that if the first people on a beach are nudists then the beach is a nudist one. Naturally, if they are textiles then it will be a textile beach. The beauty of having clothing optional beaches though, is that if it is long enough naturists can be at one end and textiles the other, with the naked and the clothed possibly mingling in the middle. Naturally, as naturism becomes more widely accepted, the length of the beach where this division is visible will shorten. Until naturism has gained that wider acceptance then we should campaign for more clothing optional beaches, in less out of the way locations and with better facilities. This will make naturism as a concept more accessible to the curious interested public.
Now I know a policy advocating clothing optional has its own problems with supporters and detractors for both sides of the argument, but I believe that this is the best solution to this particular problem. If you know of another one, I’d love to hear it.
So over to you, is this a sensible basis for a settled, written policy or does it need modifying?
NAG activists meet twice a year to discuss our projects and over the weekend 14th/15th September 2013, we held our autumn meeting on the Isle of Wight. Apart from Duncan Heenan, Peter Knight, John Paine, Harvey Allen and myself, we also invited two others to provide some outside input: Sam Hawcroft, editor of H&E Naturist and Tim Forcer, naturist and academic.
The range of topics covered was wide and what is present here is a snapshot of the discussion that took place.
Government and Law Enforcement Agencies
Duncan told the meeting that he was making good progress in completing his report to be sent to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Ministry of Justice among others and on schedule to have the first draft completed by the end of 2013. Just before the meeting however, the CPS (Crown Prosecuting Service) released guidance notes to prosecuting lawyers on how naturists, arrested for being naked in a public place, should be treated and this was still being studied at the time.
Post meeting: Duncan discussed the implications of the guidance notes with Malcolm Boura – Research and Liaison Officer (RLO) for BN – and they concluded that a change to their strategy and report will be necessary and as a consequence, it will have a minor impact on their schedule.
British Naturism leads the campaign for the restoration of Holkham Beach to naturist use, but regular user and committee member Andy Crawford (not in attendance), has also campaigned on his own account. He informed the committee (by email) that a meeting with Holkham Estate’s management has been arranged by BN but saw no prospect of the ban being overturned. His dealings with the Norfolk PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) also suggested that he supported the police’s actions in supporting the ban.
Post meeting: Malcolm Boura announced through Naturist Freedom that The Crown Estate has backed down following a strongly worded legal argument prepared by David Wolfe QC and they have lifted the ban on naturists using Holkham Beach below the Mean High Water mark. The ban on naturism above it is still in place.
The London Question
Following the aborted “Picnic in the Park”, designed to demonstrate that naturists and other park users could co-exist side-by-side, committee members John Paine (TLQ project leader), Harvey Allen and Duncan Heenan met with senior management figures from the City of London Corporation. Although they were unable to persuade them to allow naturism on Hampstead Heath and other large open spaces under their control, the TLQ delegation obtained a clearer understanding of The Corporation’s concerns and their wish to discourage behaviours they did not want to be associated with (e.g. dogging). They believe naturism would encourage them.
At a following TLQ meeting it was decided to wind down the project, believing it has taken naturism in London as far as it can. In its place the Hampstead Heath Naturist Project Group has been created. While NAG does not want the whole focus to be on Hampstead Heath, it is our belief that there is greater potential for success with Hampstead Heath than in other areas. Based on the Beach User Group concept it will allow naturists in the area to engage more easily with The Corporation and other stakeholders concerned with the heath and its local environment. They have already held two meetings to devise a strategy and if you would like to show your support, or give a hand, please email John Paine via the website.
Help from Supporters
At the autumn 2012 meeting, a number of initiatives that would allow greater participation by our supporters without them making an open ended commitment was considered. A year later, these were re-considered and here are four suggestions that will take no more than 30-minutes of your time, as and when they occur:
- Cuttings from the local press are a good source of information. If you see an article that would be of interest, why not scan it and email it to nag AT naturistactiongroup DOT org, or if you prefer, cut it out and send it to our postal address. (Don’t forget to tell us the name of the newspaper and the date of publication, along with your own name and contact details, which will not be passed on to anyone else.)
- Write a letter to the editor or comment on a newspaper’s website in response to an article. A letter (or email) is still an effective way to get your opinion across, which may gain more support locally than you’d think. To be published, you must include your name and address, which can be withheld if requested, and a contact number. Writing a comment on their web page is even simpler and quicker.
- Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests are made to public bodies (e.g. police services) and can be made in writing by any member of the public (letter or email) asking specific information. For example, as Holkham Beach is private property the police cannot act without the estate’s management’s permission, which has is a cost to the public purse. Therefore, a member of the public is entitled ask how much this support is costing Norfolk Police. Similar FOI requests can be made to other police services and public bodies, whose actions have an adverse effect on naturists.
- The Forestry Commission (for England and Scotland) and Natural Resources Wales are encouraging greater public use for their woodlands through tourism and leisure activity ideas. There is potential for some of these activities to be carried out naked but suitable sites and activities need to be identified and the initial enquires made. These public bodies are not the only owners of woodland however, and farmers and landowners may also be willing to consider an approach to make better use of an asset that may not be fully utilised.
Afterwards, please tell us about what you did and of any outcomes, not forgetting to include your name and contact details to nag AT naturistactiongroup DOT org.
The accounts for NAG have already been published on the website and shows a steady recovery for our funds from a low in 2011, when we published the leaflet “You and the Law”. What does not appear in these accounts at present, and will do so in the future, are the contributions in kind made largely by the committee members who pay their own expenses for travelling to the bi-annual meetings and on occasion, accommodation. Nor do these figures take into account a very generous gift of £200 made by an anonymous donor after these accounts were compiled. Thank you, whoever you are.
In an effort to raise funds so NAG can campaign for naturism and promote it, and raise its profile among naturists, the group launched a photo competition with the support of Astbury Formentera and H&E Naturist, in June 2013, with the result published in the January 2014 issue of H&E Naturist.
As part of the work in London NAG now has a small group of London naturists, female and male, working as the Hampstead Heath Naturism Project Group. They are taking forward the recommendations in the NAG document Hampstead Heath: The way forward. John Paine is the NAG co-ordinator, until the Group gets established with its own leadership from London naturists.
Three immediate objectives have been agreed. These are to get acceptance at Hampstead Heath of naturism at:
(a) in The Ladies Pond area Short term
(b) naked swimming in the Men’s Pond Medium term
and (c) in the grass at the Cohen’s Field area Longer term
The Group feels that it is essential to involve naturists who live local to Hampstead Heath (HH). John McPartlin, as a user of the Men’s Pond, is in touch with other naturist users, who come from all over London. The involvement of female naturists is also essential, to counter the perception that it is only men who want naturist facilities. Harvey Allen is organising a photo-shoot at HH in which a number of female naturists have agreed to take part.
NAG held a meeting with senior City of London managers, responsible for HH, in July. It has been agreed that networking with other HH users and the official HH User Groups, would also be essential. Currently a meeting with Glenda Jackson MP, who has been contacted and expressed an interest, is being set up. Also suggested was an approach to Elixir Health Spa which near Alexandra Palace at 14 Palace Gates Road, London N22 7BN www.elixir-of-life.com telephone 020 8888 5511, is not far from HH. They may be able to promote the need to other naturist users.
The Group feel that it is essential to explain that open air naturism is a healthy daytime activity, and not the unacceptable sexual behaviour which occurs primarily at evening and night-time on the Heath. It is important to change the perception of the public, and of park managements, who tend automatically to associate that unacceptable sexual behaviour with naturism. Networking with local people and groups is a key part of this work and will need to be carefully planned. This report is part of a strategy to tell naturists about the new Project Group and promote it widely. Please feel free to help us by contacting naturist friends, and the Naturist magazines and websites.
We need a distinctive Logo for the Group (alongside the NAG logo) which could be used on leaflets, publicity material and letterheads. Perhaps you can give us some ideas on that? We will also draw up a short explanatory A4 information sheet. If there is a naturist person with media skills, to assist with local media contacts and interviews, that too would be a big benefit for the Group. However, we are presently cautious about approaching the local media, as this would be best done once the Group has worked out a little more clearly what it wants to say to local people.
All interest naturists are invited to the next meeting of the Project Group, when we shall give updates on progress and plan the 2014 action. It will take place at 2.00pm on Saturday 23 November 2013.
The venue for this meeting is McGlynn’s Free House Whidborne Street, LONDON WC1H 8ET www.mcglynnsfreehouse.com . The venue is near to Kings Cross station. Argyle Street is opposite St. Pancras Station and Whidborne Street is at the bottom right. You might like to know that McGlynn’s also does meals.
2 October 2013
Over the last two years, a dedicated group of 50 naturists (both men and women) have reviewed 25+ parks and open spaces in London for The London Question (TLQ). After our aborted naked picnic, John Pain, Duncan Heenan and Harvey Allen had a high level meeting with representatives of the City of London Corporation.
You can learn more about that and how we think how TLQ should go forward by attending a meeting on Sunday 8th September 2013 between 15:00hrs and 17:00hrs, with John Pain hosting. More details are included our invitation to all supporters who live or work in London, and occurs just after the UCL naturist swim.
Chairman, Naturist Action Group
On Monday, 5th August, the body of 50-year-old Sussie Ahlburg, a successful photographer, was found in the Ladies Swimming Pond, after a missing person’s report had been filed the previous day. On Friday, Ham and High, the local newspaper, stated that the police were not treating Ms Alhburg’s death as suspicious but the pond was still closed to swimmers as police divers continued to search it and there was no indication when the pond would be re-opened.
As a consequence, female swimmers were encouraged to use the men’s pond instead, rather than the nearby mixed swimming pond. Naturist Action Group supporter, John McPartlin has written the following to Ham and High, and copied it to Sue Ireland (Director of Open Spaces, City of London Corporation), Glenda Jackson MP, Hampstead and Kilburn (Lab) and Tulip Siddiq, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn.
“Following the recent tragedy at the Ladies Bathing Pond on Hampstead Heath, in which a swimmer lost her life, the pool has now been closed indefinitely. Ladies are in the meantime being asked to take themselves along not to the mixed swimming lake, however, which would have seemed to be the most logical response, but, instead, on a morning only basis, to use the Men’s Pond, where naturist sunbathing is permitted and is commonplace. The result has been to have women now sharing friendly chats with men not wearing a costume, and even joining them in the showers. This is all rather jolly and everyone appears to enjoy the new arrangement and hopes that it will continue. Naturist Action Group has in the past asked whether the City of London Corporation, which administers the heath, could not set aside a small secluded area of the parkland for mixed naturist sunbathing, for which there is a demand, but this has so far always been declined. In the light of this new development it would seem that the corporation is now becoming more amenable to the suggestion.
“I would be grateful if you could share your views on this subject.
If any of the above should choose to share their views with John McPartlin then with permission, we shall share it with you too.
In May 2013 NAG published information about holding a proposed Naturist Picnic at Cohen’s Field, on Hampstead Heath, on Saturday 29 June. The City of London is responsible for managing Hampstead Heath and they wrote to NAG asking that the Picnic be cancelled. The City offered to meet with NAG to discuss issues related to such an activity at Hampstead Heath. NAG therefore agreed to cancel the Picnic so that the meeting could take place on 4 July.
The meeting was held in an office at Hampstead Heath and a considerable amount of information was exchanged. NAG is currently considering the implications of the new information received in that meeting. At the present time there are no plans for NAG to set a new date, or organise, a Naturist Picnic on Hampstead Heath. The door was left open for NAG to continue a dialogue with the City Corporation.
The NAG project The London Question will continue. In due course NAG will issue more information on how naturists, who are keen to see more opportunities for naturism within greater London, can assist with this.
John Paine NAG project leader