Page last updated at 08:39 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 09:39 UK

Naturist plea over canoeist beach

Naturist John Thompson says signs could be put up to warn the public

There are calls for a Teesside beach, made famous by back-from-the-dead canoeist John Darwin, to become an official naturist area.

The Three Rivers Outdoor Club has written to Hartlepool Council asking to be allowed to use a stretch near the golf club at Seaton Carew.

If given the go-ahead, signs would be put up warning visitors they may encounter naked people.

The council will be discussing the proposal at a meeting in September.

Seaton Carew beach was the initial setting for the sophisticated scam by John Darwin who - along with his wife, Anne - faked his own death in 2002.

The pair were later jailed for fraud.

Public reaction

John Thompson, secretary of the Three Rivers Outdoor Club, said: "We're not out to offend anyone, but there are no official naturist beaches in the north east of England.

"The nearest ones to us are that are official are in Norfolk, or the Isle of Arran in Scotland, or Formby, near Liverpool.

"What we're asking for is an area of beach, not necessarily a public area of beach, to have signs to say people may encounter naked people in that area."

Councillor Victor Tumilty, Hartlepool Council's portfolio holder for culture, leisure and transportation, said that he thought public reaction to such a move would be mixed.

"The town is a mecca for holidaymakers and weekenders, and the beach is always packed out.

"I'm sure there are those who would say it wasn't right or decent, and those views would have to be taken into account.

"We will make a decision on the basis of information from council officers and local residents."

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