Swingers club in Tempsford should bar under 21s, says councillor

A Bedfordshire venue popular with swingers should be barred from allowing under 21s on the premises, according to a local councillor.

By Euan Duncan, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 20th April 2022, 10:20 am
Updated Thursday, 21st April 2022, 3:40 pm

A request to review the premises licence of The Anchor Lodge at Tempsford has been made by Central Bedfordshire Independent Potton councillor Tracey Wye.

Events are arranged by an adult members-only club, The Vanilla Alternative.

Councillor Wye has asked the local authority “to look at modifying the licence so that under 21s aren’t allowed on the premises at any time, given it’s a swingers/sex club which promotes public/private sexual liaisons”.

The Anchor Lodge

In September, the venue applied to extend its licensed hours from 2am to 4am – and while reviewing the application she spotted that the current licence permitted under 16s to be on the premises up to 10pm.

Given the nature of the activities in the venue, and Vanilla Alternative’s admission policy of over 21s, she asked for the licence review to reflect this so Central Bedfordshire Council is clear about ensuring the licensing objectives of protecting children from harm, and prevention of crime and disorder can be upheld.

The Anchor Lodge is just off the A1 Great North Road, a short distance from the Black Cat roundabout.

In January, it became the registered office address for The Vanilla Alternative Limited, which was promoting itself on social media as the UK’s number one swinging venue.

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In a report in the agenda of the council licensing sub-committee, councillor Wye, said: “One look at the website is enough, I believe, to prevent under 21s at any time.

“Not only from the communal areas, but also from the hotel rooms under the licensing objectives of protection of children from harm, and prevention of crime and disorder.”

The council’s licensing sub-committee is due to consider her application for the licence to be reviewed at a meeting on Tuesday (April 26).

Councillor Wye added: “In addition to the form I completed, I would like to add I’m pleased there haven’t been any complaints to Bedfordshire Police or CBC regarding the age of attendees.

“I’m not casting any aspersions on how the club is run. But I want the sub-committee to consider whether the current licence was issued when The Anchor was an ordinary pub.

"If so, would the under 16s condition be allowed had the licence been applied for today?

“The website of The Vanilla Alternative suggests a minimum age on the premises of 21 years through its membership scheme. I would like the council to support this age minimum throughout the whole premises by changing the licence for the avoidance of confusion, should there be a question about the age of attendees in the future.

“I’ve been asked if there’s a need for this change to the licence based on the age of consent. Should this be brought up, I will argue the age of consent isn’t a suitable discussion on this occasion because of the nature of the activities promoted by the club.”

No complaints have been received by Tempsford Parish Council or concerns about young people attending the venue, according to a report to the sub-committee.

“On learning the licence allows under 16s on the premises up to 10pm, the parish council supports councillor Wye’s request to have the licence changed to uphold the licensing objectives,” said the report.