Outrage in Cheltenham as piercing hits town

IN A RADICAL transformation, the genteel Regency spa town of Cheltenham has cast off its Laura Ashley image in favour of body-piercing.

Cheltenham, local councillors insist, is no longer a place where retired colonels take tea but a happening town where a tattoo is de rigueur; stud- art, they believe, is the perfect way to "connect" with young voters.

The new image emerged as Cheltenham Borough Council issued a series of posters imploring young people to: "Make your mark, live by your choices, not someone else's. Register now and use your vote."

The most controversial of the posters features a photograph of 19-year- old Naomijo Hughes who sports a pierced nose, eyebrow, chin, cheek and tongue.

"I know Cheltenham used to be known for retired Indian colonels but that has all changed," said John Todman, the council's Conservative leader, said yesterday.

"It is a lively, young people's town and we are using the pictures of Naomijo to show them that the council want them to vote."

The posters have been greeted with less than delight by some of the locals - not least the author Jilly Cooper.

"It is a death wish for the town. It is like Helen of Troy suddenly covering herself in body piercing - she didn't need it and neither does Cheltenham," Ms Cooper, who lives in the nearby village of Bisley, said yesterday.

"Cheltenham is a beautiful, ravishing place. The young pour into Cheltenham looking incredibly glamorous, the flowers are wonderful and the town is just beautiful. This is a ridiculous image that won't appeal to anyone. It is an extraordinary thing to do."

Ms Hughes was discovered in a local body-piercing salon by a photographer who presented her picture to the council officials. They, in turn, decided she would be a perfect way of showing young people exactly what facilities they provide for youngsters. The other two posters picture young people enjoying the town's night life and new skateboard park.

Katherine Gunn, a council spokeswoman, said: "If anyone complained we would take their comments very seriously. I can see that the images are very striking. That is the intention behind them. We are trying to say we understand issues close to their hearts.

"We have body-piercing shops and tattooists in town, that is part of Cheltenham. It is not all Regency buildings and parks.

"Naomijo is expressing herself with the piercings and we would like to make the point that people can also express themselves in the polling booth."

Ms Hughes - who comes from Devon, dropped out of college, and spent pounds 200 on body piercing which her father is not "overly keen" on - has never voted. But she said yesterday: "If there was someone I wanted to vote for, I probably would now."

Her lack of democratic pedigree failed to dent the council's enthusiasm. "Naomijo was picked because of her body piercing rather than her democratic views," the spokeswoman insisted.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect