You may have seen coverage in the local and national press recently about the cancellation of the regular monthly Naturist swim in Alton, Hampshire. As you would expect, BN is working to support our local members and other swimmers who have been affected by this misguided action.
The Naturist swim in Alton ran successfully for over thirty years, regularly attracting swimmers from across the South of England on a Sunday evening. Unlike many Naturist swims, it was operated by the local leisure centre rather than as a ‘private’ event organised by a Naturist swimming club.
Swimmers were advised in December that - as a result of the leisure centre relocating to a new, purpose-built facility - the Naturist swim would be cancelled and that the final swim in Alton would take place on 05 January 2020.
Well over thirty swimmers turned out to support this last swim.Amongst swimmers there was a feeling that they had not been consulted about the development of the new leisure centre, and that the reasons given for the cancellation of the swim represent a threat to other Naturist swims if not challenged. BN shares their concerns about both the way in which a long-established swim has been brought to an end and the reasons given for this action by the leisure centre management. We are proud to be supporting local BN members and others in their action to challenge and hopefully reverse this decision.
The reasons given by the leisure centre operator to justify the cancellation of the swim are focused on the large amount of glass surrounding the new pool, and the visibility this gives of the pool area from inside and outside of the building. In their view, the fact that Naturists could be seen using the pool justifies the cancellation of the swim. BN is deeply uncomfortable with this assessment. We know that public nudity is legal across the UK and there is no evidence that non-Naturists require ‘protection’ from people enjoying the many benefits of social nudity.
We also challenge the argument made by the leisure centre operator that the design of the new pool is consistent with Sport England design guidelines and that these would preclude Naturist use - in fact the guidelines refer specifically to the need too consider the needs of all users when designing new pools, and suggest that the needs of some users for more ‘privacy’ should be designed into new leisure centres.
We have been supporting the action taken by local BN members in Alton to challenge this misguided and discriminatory action. Local action has included writing to the local and national press, local councillors and MPs and attending the launch event for the new centre to express disappointment. This resulted in the promise of a follow-up meeting, chaired by the local council, to discuss why the swim was cancelled and what could be done to re-instate the swim or move it to an alternative venue.
BN will be fully involved to support these discussions, and have also raised the issue with both Sport England and Swim England (the Amateur Swimming Association) as inconsistent with their policies to encourage participation in sport and equal access for all members of the community.
BN Campaigns Team