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Clacton: Naked bike ride organisers not deterred by calls to cancel event

19:30 10 June 2014

One of the cyclists from last year

One of the cyclists from last year's event.

Archant

Organisers of a naked bike ride in Clacton say they will not be put off by “threats” from Tendring District Council (TDC) and Essex Police to cancel the event.

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The World Naked Bike Ride has organised the ride around the town centre, including the sea front, for Saturday July 19.

It is billed as an environmental protest against “the destructive elements of car culture” and cycling naked “demonstrates the vulnerability of cyclists on city streets”. Nudity is optional at the events, which take place in 20 countries across the globe.

In a joint statement issued last week TDC and the police urged organisers to cancel the ride after concerns from residents following last year’s event, which saw around 30 riders turn out in the nude.

More than 20 complaints were made either directly to the police switchboard or to those marshalling the route.

The authorities also questioned whether the event was a genuine protest, citing a lack of banners or slogans during the 2013 ride.

However Robert Brown, lead organiser for the Clacton event, said: “The implication is this is a naturism event, when it isn’t. I can’t stress that enough, it is a world-wide protest.

“But the very nature of the event attracts naturists.

“The council and police are really being unfairly mean, and narrow-minded. We were not asked to stop we were threatened.

“We are not going to be bullied or give in to intimidation. We will not go down without a fight.

“I have had no end of support, people have been asking me when we are coming back, and it brings business to the town.

“It is an infringement of people’s human rights.”

British Naturism has backed the right of protestors to demonstrate in the nude, but has stated it is not one of their events.

However Mr Brown said there was an upside to the authorities’ message, as it was bolstering support for the ride.

“We could have quite a few hundred people turn up because of all the publicity,” he added.

“We’ve even got someone coming from South Africa to take part.

A spokesman for TDC said: “We find it hard to see how Mr Brown took a reasonable request to be a threat, bullying or intimidation.

“Mr Brown says nudity is optional but the clue is in the name of the event, The Naked Bike Ride. He also states it is an environmental protest, as was claimed last year, but there was no evidence of such and anyone who witnessed the event would have been unaware of what the protest was about.”

The spokesman added the council disputes that the event increases business to the town and feels it is more likely to damage trade, and said the council stood by its request.

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