Waterworld Stoke has made the decision to ban all family nude swim events in the future after receiving fierce backlash from members of the public.
The waterpark has confirmed a change in its policy to restrict the events to those over 18 years of age only.
It comes after the controversial event – which is organised by British Naturism and is open to adults and kids of all ages – was confirmed to still be going ahead last weekend despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the criticism faced in previous years.
The event usually attracts 300 people to the Staffordshire city, but in previous years has garnered widespread criticism among members of the public stating that it could attract people looking to prey on youngsters, and one session held last year saw even around 20 protesters gather outside the entrance to Waterworld with the police in attendance.
A petition was also set up.
Now, after “extensive dialogue with its customers”, Waterworld has made a u-turn on its policy following two decades of hosting British Naturism events.
Speaking on the policy change, Waterworld owner Mo Chaudry said: “British Naturism is a perfectly law-abiding organisation which has been hiring our venue – and many similar sites across the UK – for private events for over 20 years.
“In all that time, the sessions have taken place happily and peacefully with all appropriate health, safety and safeguarding policies in place, giving our team no reasons for concern. However, it has become clear following extensive dialogue with our customers that a growing number are unhappy with these sessions being open to children and young people.
“So, while we are happy to continue hiring out our venue to naturists, the board of directors have decided to amend our company policy – future events must now be restricted to over 18s.”
He continued: “Having arrived in the UK from Pakistan as a young boy, unable to speak a single word of English, I know precisely what it feels like to be discriminated against. And that is why, throughout my years in business, I have always been determined to treat everyone equally, and fairly.
“Although I do not personally share the views of naturists, I feel it is important to acknowledge the freedom of choice for all people providing they abide by the laws of the land. However, my staff have been subjected to unacceptable and unwarranted abuse from those protesting against the event that took place this weekend.
“This is something that I cannot allow to continue in the future.
“And from our point of view, we have always prided ourselves on listening to the wide-ranging views of all our customers.
“British Naturism is welcome to continue hiring Waterworld outside of public opening hours for its private events. But in future, it will simply be on the condition that these sessions are only open to people aged 18 and over.”