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SUN Campaign History - Nov 1997

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SUN and the National Trust Liaison Meeting - Nov 28th, 1997

Notwithstanding the tree felling setback of October '97, we attended a meeting at the National Trust offices in Studland on November 28th '97.

SUN cast as 'Public Enemy Number One' by CCBN - at one stage we found ourselves in the novel position of being upheld by the National Trust!

It was quite a long meeting, and we were definitely cast in the eyes of the other 'visiting' parties as Public Enemy Number One. CCBN in particular were hell-bent on denigrating and discrediting us at every opportunity, and at one stage we found ourselves in the novel position of being upheld by the National Trust!

CCBN seized the opportunity to push their self-styled "Naturist Code" which (as anyone who has seen this pompous and tortuous tract will know) has no relevance whatsoever to Studland.

It was suggested that the National Trust should compare Studland with Polgaver Beach in Cornwall, although the latter is, of course (1) privately owned, (2) very much smaller and (3) has only one realistic access point, making it very easy to control.

We suggested that all that was required was a brief statement to the effect that "Studland has been used for many decades by nudists. Please be aware that taking photographs without consent may cause offence. Visitors are asked to behave in such a way as not to cause offence to others." 

Studland Parish Council were honest - they don't want nudists at all!

Studland Parish Council were at least honest - they obviously don't want nudists here, and they appeared to be labouring under the misapprehension that SUN wanted to have nude-outs on the village green, or what's left of it after the National Trust flogged half of it for development. We told them - and the others - quite forcibly that we wanted nothing of the sort. All we were insisting on was our traditional area which, they reluctantly agreed, we had been using for over seventy years.

Anyway, we held our ground and as I said earlier, found that the National Trust were tending to take our side of the argument in the face of CCBN's insistence that all "genuine naturists" wanted to do was to lie on the beach.

SUN has no objection whatsoever to visible, uniformed police...

Rex Watson also appeared to have an unhealthy obsession with the Vice Squad: we made the point that we had no objection whatsoever to visible, uniformed police whom we consider to be a far more effective deterrent against wrongdoing of any sort, and a far more efficient use of police resources, than half a dozen plain clothes officers lurking around the dunes for weeks on end on the off-chance of catching a couple of gay guys holding hands.

Watson attempted to interpret this as SUN Group condoning law-breaking, but the facts of the matter are simple: year in, year out we Dorset taxpayers are told by the Chief Constable and the Police Authority that they have "insufficient resources" properly to police the county, and that they are thirty or forty officers short of establishment (I believe the latest figure was 36). How, then, can they possibly justify such an appalling misuse of their limited manpower by the kind of entrapment exercises that have been commonplace for years in a sparsely populated area of the dunes, whilst turning a blind eye to much more blatant law-breaking in the heavily populated family area of the beach? In the end, he had no answer to us.

Woodland clearance discussion sees locals and CCBN flounder

The Parish Council members stayed for less than half the meeting, pleading another engagement (morning coffee with the vicar, one wonders?) and "the groupies" made little significant contribution to the discussion, appearing to sit firmly on the fence. As the meeting moved on to conservation issues and the woodland clearance, both they and CCBN were left floundering, for the simple reason that they had not the foggiest idea what was being discussed. They never go anywhere near the woodland or the deserted heath; they don't know anything about the beauty and peace of the heathland away from the crowded beach; they demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that there is no more than a minor role for them in the negotiating process.

National Trust, EN & SUN talk as CCBN sit alone

Towards the end of the meeting, the only people taking part were the National Trust, EN and SUN! And when we adjourned to the pub for lunch (an excellent pint of draught cider - highly recommended!) it was SUN that the National Trust were talking to, while CCBN sat forlornly at a corner table eating their shepherd's pie, totally ignored.

We are now establishing a solid working relationship

The upshot of all this is that we think we are now establishing a solid working relationship with the National Trust/EN management, with SUN as the primary representative group. If this puts CCBN's nose out of joint, tough. They have only themselves to blame - if they had done what they are supposed to do, i.e. stand up for nudist rights, years ago, we would not now be in the position we are.

Our next meeting is scheduled for March 4th '98, when we hope there will be some changes in place on the vexed question of "boundaries" and "the prudes' path".

This time, we were represented by our new Chairman, Mark Nisbet, accompanied by Pete and Sue Dangerfield and Colin James. Also present at the meeting were Mark Harold, Julian Homer and Celia Mead for the National Trust; Site Manager Howard Avery for English Nature; two members of Studland Parish Council; CCBN's Rex Watson, Roger Wright and Hilary Bush; and two who identified themselves as "another beach user group" but who are actually just part of a gang of a dozen or so who always sit together at the Studland end of the beach.


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