Nudist beach set for Southwold?

IT is a quintessential English seaside town and one of the most upmarket and exclusive coastal retreats in the country.

Craig Robinson

IT is a quintessential English seaside town and one of the most upmarket and exclusive coastal retreats in the country.

But Southwold could soon have another string to its bow - a nudist beach.

Waveney District Council says coastal erosion has led to the loss of so much beach at Corton, near Lowestoft, that the naturist section should now be returned to general use.

At a cabinet meeting on Thursday councillor Keith Patience suggested Southwold as a possible alternative.

He told the EADT last night: “It's been mooted to me by others as a possible alternative. I don't use the beach at Corton myself but it would seem a shame to get rid of the facility completely.

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“It does attract a few people to the area. It's possibly more secluded at Southwold than at other places. Lowestoft beach is obviously occupied quite a lot in the summer - it's the same a bit further down the coast.”

But Southwold mayor Teresa Baggot said: “I don't think it would be a good idea. Southwold has always been a seaside town that people come to with their young children.

“I'm not against naturism but I don't think Southwold is the place to do it. I'm not sure if it would be encouraged - people pay thousands of pounds for their beach huts, I don't think it would go down very well at all.

“Even up at Easton Bavents people walk along with their children. It wouldn't fit in with the character of the town - it's not what we need.”

John Goldsmith, Southwold county councillor, said the only possible location could be at the harbour end of the town - but even then the beach was popular with holidaymakers.

“There are so many people down there from the caravan site in the summer that I don't think it would be possible,” he said. “I don't think it would work in Southwold. However, what with global warming we'll probably all be walking around naked soon anyway so no one will care!”

Sue Allen, district councillor for Southwold, was at the meeting when Mr Patience made his suggestion.

“It was all very tongue in cheek,” she said. “I suggested that somewhere else could be used and that's when Mr Patience quipped about Southwold.

“However, I don't think any of the beaches are appropriate - Easton Bavents is not big enough. I have nothing against naturism - it doesn't bother me - but you need lots of beach so people can walk through it if they want to.”

The nudist beach was founded by Waveney District Council in the mid-1970s, but officers say coastal erosion has affected Corton so badly that action is needed.

The cabinet has now decided to launch a two month consultation exercise, which will start next month.

The proposal has sparked an angry response from British Naturism - which insist the beach has a “clothes optional” status, meaning anyone can already use it.

Last night Malcolm Boura, research and liaison officer - who lives in Suffolk, said: “This idea is very encouraging and something we would welcome. A few years ago I wrote to the district council and suggested Southwold. It would appear to be a good location but obviously we need to look at the beach in more detail. We will be putting our views forward during the consultation.”

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