AN animal rights group is demanding the Purbeck village of Wool change its name - as it 'promotes cruelty to sheep'.

Elisa Allen, director at PETA, wrote to Wool Parish Council asking for the 1,000-year-old village to be renamed 'Vegan Wool'.

The unusual request is set to be considered by councillors at their next meeting.

The animal rights organisation said they would give a 'cruelty-free' woollen blanket to all 2,000 households in the village if they agree to the suggestion.

PETA claim they have uncovered cruelty to sheep in the British wool industry that includes the animals being punched in the face, trampled on and beaten with electric clippers.

Ms Allen said that the people of 'Vegan Wool' would show an act of kindness to sheep if they changed the name of the village.

Because PETA has made the suggestion in writing members of Wool Parish Council are obliged to list it on the agenda at their next meeting on December 17.

But a spokesman said the matter is likely to be laughed out of the room.

They added PETA needed "educating" about the origins of Wool's name as it derives from the ancient word 'welle', a water spring, and has nothing to do with the wool industry.

Local councillor Cherry Brooks said: "It is a ridiculous request and it's caused quite a stir in the village.

"A few people are quite offended but most people seem to find it amusing.

"The proposal will now need to be discussed at the next council meeting, which will be interesting."

PETA's request has attracted the derision of local residents.

Villagers have taken to social media to defend the name of Wool and slam PETA's suggestion.

Jayne Merchant said: "The name Wool should remain as it is, the idea of renaming the village is utterly ridiculous.

"It's the most idiotic idea I have come across in a long time."

Jo Holloway added: "It's not April 1st yet surely!"

Anne Vincent said: "The name Wool has nothing to do with sheep. It comes from the Saxon word for spring (welle)."

In her letter Ms Allen said: "I'm writing on behalf of PETA with a suggestion that would put Wool in the spotlight and promote kindness to sheep: renaming the village 'Vegan Wool'.

"Why make this animal-friendly update? Unlike wool that is stolen from sheep, vegan wool is good for animals and the environment.

"Sheep's wool, on the other hand, has been shown to be a product of extreme cruelty.

"A recently released PETA Asia eyewitness investigation of the British wool industry revealed that shearers punched sheep in the face, stamped and stood on their heads and necks, and beat and jabbed them in the face with electric clippers.

"Fast, rough shearing left sheep with large, bloody wounds that shearers crudely stitched up using a needle and thread – and no pain relief.

"Several sheep even died during shearing from possible shock – or what one farmer called a 'heart attack'.

"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 warmhearted to sheep by choosing vegan wool and other animal-free materials."

Wool has a population of 5,310 and has its origins in the 11th century.

Earlier this week it emerged a pub in York changed its name from 'Shoulder of Mutton' to 'Hemworth Inn' to attract more vegans to eat there.