LIFESTYLE

Nudist Hotel Granted Drinks License Despite Prudish Grumblings It Will Turn "Into A Strip Club"

15/08/2013 11:12 BST | Updated 15/08/2013 11:36 BST

The only nudist hotel in the Midlands, which featured on Channel Five show The Hotel Inspector, has been granted a drinks license despite concerns that it will turn the venue "into a strip club".

Clearly the complainers have never actually been to a nudist hotel or campsite before - most nudists are hardly Stringfellows material.

Tim Higgs, owner of the Clover Spa & Hotel - the only purely naturist hotel in the Midlands - said he is "delighted" at the decision.

nudist

Tim Higgs celebrating - with clothes on

City councillors in Erdington, Birmingham, said giving the hotel a premises licence risked "a rise in inappropriate behaviour and displays of flesh" and would "become a magnet for troublesome individuals and youths".

The average age of nudists, according to The Guardian, is 55. You're far more likely to find drunk, naked youths running around in the town centre after closing time, not checking into a hotel to do so.

Mr Higgs said he was not applying to open a strip club and "the naturist - without any disrespect to them - is slightly older than the average population, so we aren't going to be attracting hardened drinkers and wild youths".

The Clover Hotel & Spa featured on The Hotel Inspector last month, which saw Tim clash with presenter Alex Polizzi after she suggested the nudist policy may be putting off non-naturist guests, reported The Birmingham Mail.

The three members of Birmingham City Council's licensing sub-committee C took 10 minutes to grant the licence allowing live music, the sale of alcohol and dancing, and said objectors had not demonstrated "evidential or causal links" for their concerns.

Committee members heard the hotel and spa had been running as a naturist establishment, where guests can go about the premises completely naked, for two and a half years with all but no issues.

Mr Higgs added: "The only issue has been that on two occasions, my neighbour has asked for clarification on nude sun-bathing in the back garden, but the police told them it was entirely lawful."

There were no objections from the police, the fire service, the city's safeguarding children board or a children's nursery which is next door to the hotel.

Mr Higgs told the committee: "There is no public access to the hotel or spa, other than to reception, because all the naturist areas are behind key-locked doors.

"So it isn't true anyone can just wander in - we know who is coming in."

He added hotel guests and spa users were already able to drink on the premises, but with a licence he "could send them to their rooms if they became intoxicated, so this actually gives me greater control."

The converted house in Chester Road has seven rooms and space for a maximum of 50 people.

nudist hotel

However, some city councillors said there was a risk of a public nuisance if the licence was granted.

Gareth Moore, of Erdington ward, said: "For a hotel in this area to have live music and dancing is quite unusual."

He added the area was mainly residential and the licence would "mark a substantial change".

Fellow councillor Bob Beauchamp said the licence risked "the insidious creep towards something making things worse for local residents".

The committee attached conditions making the sale of alcohol and the music and entertainment to be for the hotel's patrons and spa visitors only.

Mr Higgs told the committee there was nothing "sexual" about naturism.

"It is sometimes misunderstood, much to the annoyance of genuine naturists, that there is some form of sexual connotation to what they do," he said.

"It is not sexually charged and I would submit that if we were all naked now it would not be a sexually charged atmosphere.

"It would be more horror and shock".

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Higgs said the attitude of most people was "live and let live" but he added that his application had brought "a few dinosaurs out".

Asked what his neighbours thought, he said: "The neighbours tolerate it.

"I won't pretend they're happy, but they do have to go out of their way to see naked people.

"They would have to either have a stepladder and look out over the fence, or look out of the back bedroom over the fence."

The hotel's neighbours declined to comment.