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SUN Campaign History - 4th Mar 1998

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Talks breakdown as SUN subjected to the most venomous bigotry imaginable at Liaison Meeting

On Wednesday 4th March 1998 SUN committee members met with National Trust officers and other diverse 'interest groups' for the first of several proposed liaison meetings for 1998. Also in attendance were representatives from English Nature, CCBN - including Rex 'Razor Wire' Watson editor of BN Magazine, Studland Parish Council, and a couple of unaligned beach users. Craven Walker and Sue Walker from Bournemouth and District Outdoor Club also attended.

Tour and inspection of Heather Walk

The day commenced with an inspection of Heather Walk and a tour of the dunes and beach. We then returned to the offices of Countryside Manager Julian Homer for a meeting chaired by National Trust Dorset area manager Mark Harold.

This is the fifth such meeting that SUN have attended with the National Trust and we have stuck to our demand for the removal of the red post boundary and the re-routing of Heather Walk.

This demand has been met with intransigence from the National Trust and downright hostility from others present at the meetings.

The CCBN have made it clear, as have Studland Parish Council that they are in total agreement with National Trust policy and plans for the area.

Only SUN is prepared to question, challenge and criticise. For our pains we are attacked and vilified, typecast and insulted.

Rex Watson and Craven Walker censured for bigotry

During the tour, supporters of the National Trust's policy nodded approvingly at the fixtures and fittings the National Trust have installed in the landscape to mark out the border of the nudist zone and the route of Heather Walk.

A feisty Rex 'Razor Wire' Watson indulged himself in matey banter with Craven Walker and made several jibes designed to provoke SUN.

Both men's Offensive comments revealed nothing more than a deep-rooted homophobia and at one stage Celia Mead, the National Trust's Public Relations Officer, was compelled to censure both for their bigotry.

An acrimonious display of prejudice, hypocrisy and fruitless argument on irrelevant side issues

Once back at the table, after the formal pleasantries, the meeting rapidly descended into an acrimonious display of prejudice, hypocrisy, kow-towing and fruitless argument on irrelevant side issues. SUN members! What you have to imagine here is a room full of people most of whom direct all of their venom at the SUN representatives. It gets a little tiring! For all of us non-aligned Studland nudists are cast as the root of all Studland's problems. It is us who:

"Brought the 'wrong type' of reputation to the village of Studland." (Studland Parish Council)

"do nothing about the queers" (Sue Walker, BDOC)

SUN is the problem personified for

"while we all agree with what the trust are trying to do its is your lot who are making it bad for everybody else" (Beach Users Group)

"Never mind removing the posts, shouldn't those red-topped posts be painted  pink" (Rex Watson, CCBN)

And so on, and on, and on...

Withdrawal as meetings get SUN nowhere

This has been the normal pattern at these meetings but what made Wednesday's meeting exceptional was the quantity of venom.

More importantly, although we're hardened to such attacks, we felt beforehand that these meetings were getting SUN nowhere. We decided to announce our withdrawal from future meetings unless the National Trust could place something new on the table. They did not and, apparently, they will not.

At this point your Chairman delivered a concise summary of SUN's position and the reasons for withdrawing. A transcript is reproduced on the next page.

It is important to stress to all that this need not be a permanent withdrawal.

This momentarily shut everybody up - while the National Trust team were visibly shocked. The meeting closed shortly afterwards on a muted note.


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