Under 18s to be barred from Tempsford swingers club

No under 18s are to be allowed at a former Bedfordshire hotel now operated as a private members’ club, after a ruling to change part of its licence.

By Euan Duncan, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 12:37 pm
The Anchor Lodge
The Anchor Lodge

A request to review the premises licence of The Anchor Lodge, off the A1, at Tempsford was made by Central Bedfordshire Independent Potton councillor Tracey Wye.

Owner Trust House Inns has 21 days to appeal the decision of Central Bedfordshire Council’s licensing sub-committee to clarify the age restrictions.

Events are arranged at the venue by an adult members-only club, The Vanilla Alternative, which has promoted itself on social media as the UK’s number one swinging venue.

In September, the venue had applied to extend its licensed hours from 2am to 4am – and while reviewing the application councillor Wye 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 had asked for the licence review to reflect this.

A council licensing officer explained: “There’ve been no complaints received against the licensing record about children entering the premises.

“Licensing records indicate the condition about children under 16 not being permitted to enter after 10pm has been there since 2005.

“Given that the premises is operated as an adult members club, councillor Wye felt the condition was inappropriate as it implied children under 16 would be allowed to enter before 10pm.”

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The licence operating hours are 8am to 4am seven days a week inside and 8am to 2am outside the premises.

Councillor Wye said: “This licence was granted when it was a regular pub. The age minimum of 21 I’ve requested is in line with the venue’s entry policy.

“If over 18s are allowed to enter by licence, we could find ourselves in a position where 16- or 17-year-olds, especially those looking older than their years, can enter.

“The venue is run quite well, but it could see children entering this environment where there’s nudity, live sexual intercourse and sexual entertainment.”

She questioned the venue’s name saying: “It hasn’t been called The Anchor Lodge for years. It was called Beyond Vanilla before, and now The Vanilla Alternative.

“I’d like to clear up whether this licence permits the sexual entertainment side, the nudity and the live sex, given it’s a pub one, and if it covers a campsite the club has.”

The licensing officer replied: “The Anchor Lodge is still the name, with a business operating there under a different name, while a campsite licence is dealt with separately.”

Solicitor for licence holder Trust Inns Tim Shield from John Gaunt and Partners said: “There are no aspersions being cast on how this premises is operated.

“The licence holders Trust Inns leases this venue to a tenant and has owned the property since around 2000.

“The current operators have been in this building since 2009 without any evidence put forward that anything untoward is happening. If Trust Inns or the operators have a voluntary policy as to age that’s a matter for them.”

He added: “Whatever you think about the operation inside, it doesn’t break the law.

“Each responsible authority, the police, the child protection authority and other consultees haven’t made an objection over this.