Police were called to a sunny seaside pier - because the postcards on sale were too saucy.

Baffled gift shop owner Ian Donald was shocked when an officer turned up at his store and accused him of peddling pornography next to his sticks of rock and candy floss.

An outraged caller had complained Mr Donald was selling obscene images that were damaging the image of Eastbourne.

But the shop owner insisted his cheeky postcards were “just part of the English seaside”.

Mr Donald has been selling the cards for more than 20 years without complaint and could not believe his eyes when a uniformed policeman visited his Gifts @ Eastbourne Pier shop.

He said: “The officer told me he was investigating a report that I had been selling obscene images.

“I asked him if he was having a laugh.

“To be fair when he saw the postcards he did see the funny side and told me I was doing nothing wrong.

“Postcards like this are part of the English seaside. They are not obscene, they are just cheeky humour.”

Mr Donald said in recent weeks he had noticed that someone kept turning the cards over so people were unable to see them.

The police officer told Mr Donald someone had rung Eastbourne Borough Council to complain about the postcards, some of which show bare breasts and bottoms.

Council staff contacted Trading Standards, who told the police obscene images were on sale at Eastbourne Pier.

The complaint to the council came from Ashley Steinschauer, an assistant minister at the Elim Family Church in Eastbourne.

He told The Argus: “I was shocked to see the postcard on sale right outside the shop.

“I spoke to some elderly residents in Eastbourne and their worry is that the postcards are not cartoons anymore. They are real women and that’s a huge difference.

“In Brighton I could understand it, but not here in Eastbourne. It’s damag- ing the image of the town and making it look sleazy.

“How far down the line does it go and where does it stop? I think it shows a real shift in morality and it’s got to stop.”

But Mr Donald said Mr Steinschauer was in a tiny minority.

He said: “I sell 600 of these every year and I’m not going to stop now. You’ll see ruder sights on the beach every day.

“We get loads of elderly people buying them, although they do tend to turn them face down when they come to the counter because they are a bit embarrassed.”

Neil Stanley, the council’s lead member for tourism, said: “Visitors to East- bourne expect wholesome good fun and the saucy postcard is a vital part of our seaside heritage.”

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