Animal rights group PETA has asked a Dorset village to change its name to ‘Vegan Wool’.

Wool Parish Council received a letter from PETA asking them to consider renaming the village to “put Wool in the spotlight and promote kindness to sheep.”

PETA’s view is that wool is “stolen” from sheep. The group - whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear” - argues that alternative vegan products are good for animals and the environment.

The letter reads: “With a simple name change, your village can take a stand against this cruelty and remind everyone that it's easy to stay warm and be warm-hearted to sheep by choosing vegan wool and other animal-free materials.

“As further incentive, if you adopt this new moniker, we'd be happy to provide every Vegan Wool household that would like one with a cosy, cruelty-free blanket.”

Jacqueline Hughes, a clerk at Wool Parish Council, said: “If they look into the history of Wool, they will see that the village has nothing to do with the wool industry.

“I can’t see the village changing its name now. We are going to look into it and it will be discussed at the Parish Council meeting on December 17.”

The suggestion to change the village’s name follows the release of two videos by PETA, allegedly revealing cruelty in the British wool industry.

A statement was issued by British Wool to address these concerns which said: “We are shocked and saddened by the behaviour of the contractor in the video footage.

“We would like to point out that the vast majority of the thousands of shearers in the UK operate to the highest standards of animal welfare, which is an integral part of all our shearing courses.”

Director of PETA UK, Elisa Allen, said: “Changing Wool's name to Vegan Wool would not only inspire local people to seek out cruelty-free clothing but also show a little compassion for the gentle sheep who are torn apart for wool.

“PETA is encouraging parish councillors to make this change and set a precedent of respect for animals for the rest of England to follow.”

Local residents are opposed to the idea of the village changing its name.

Samantha Peters, manager of Ruby’s Tea Room in Wool, said: “I’m vegan but that’s bonkers.”

Leanne Welsh, a teaching assistant at St Mary & St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Wool, said: “So Cheddar Gorge could be Vegan Chedder Gorge? Burgar in Scotland could be Veggie Burgar! Ooh! Let’s see how many more.”

Jayne Merchant from Bovington Camp said: “The name Wool should remain as it is, the idea of renaming the village is utterly ridiculous. The most idiotic idea I have come across in a long time.”

Christopher Grist said: “I'm certainly not putting Vegan Wool on any forms I have to put my place of birth on!”

Valerie Leak from Wareham said: “Would PETA fund the costs of altering everything connected to the name because I rather doubt that a community without a village policeman, an underfunded medical centre and substandard roads and pavements is in a position to pay for it.”