Search

‘We feel frustrated’ - Mobile play company told it can’t reopen yet in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 19:00 10 August 2020

A youngster role playing at being a vet before lockdown. Little City's reopening in Suffolk has now been postponed.  Picture: LITTLE CITY

A youngster role playing at being a vet before lockdown. Little City's reopening in Suffolk has now been postponed. Picture: LITTLE CITY

LITTLE CITY

Bosses of a mobile play company are upset at a decision they can’t reopen yet in Suffolk after all.

Children enjoying a play tea party before lockdown Picture: LITTLE CITYChildren enjoying a play tea party before lockdown Picture: LITTLE CITY

Little City, based in Brantham, had hoped to start up again in the county this month, with fun sessions planned in the Rushmere/Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds areas.

But now the August play sessions have had to be cancelled and money refunded to parents, as environmental health teams say current government regulations mean they cannot go ahead.

Little City owner Vicki Fletcher said the company had been given the go-ahead to open in Essex, Cambridge and parts of Norfolk, and had originally also been told it could open in Suffolk.

“In all of Suffolk, we’re not allowed to open as the environmental health teams are classing us as “indoor play,” she said.

Little City play sessions for young children are set to reopen in Essex, but not yet in Suffolk Picture: LITTLE CITYLittle City play sessions for young children are set to reopen in Essex, but not yet in Suffolk Picture: LITTLE CITY

“We don’t dispute this, we are an indoor playground, but we’re also a parent-toddler group, which, according to the community halls guidance and Early Years Alliance, can open in community halls.

“The Suffolk team did originally give us authorisation to open in Ipswich. We sold tickets under this basis to reopen, all of which we’ve now had to transfer or refund - not ideal for our reputation or for our customers keen to return.”

You may also want to watch:

MORE: ‘When can we reopen?’ Soft play centres plea

The company, which has a number of franchises, runs role-playing sessions in community halls, based in a toddler-sized street.

At Little City play sessions, children can have a go at being a firefighter, hairdresser, vet or doctor, or run their own supermarket or cafe.

Mrs Fletcher said they had been working hard behind the scenes to be Covid-secure, producing risk assessments and making adjustments to ensure they are safe.

She added: “We feel frustrated by this. We’re also really disappointed that across counties the response to our very thorough risk assessments and research and plans can be ignored and not considered.”

Although Little City can’t open yet in Suffolk, it is taking bookings via its website for play sessions in Essex, including Tiptree, Marks Tey, Holland on Sea and Brightlingsea.

A Suffolk Resilience Forum spokesman said: “Working together with our health and trading standards partners as part of the Suffolk Safer Places group, and in line with current government guidance, we are keen to support businesses across Suffolk to reopen, providing support through advice and government funding and grants.

“Current government regulations mean indoor play facilities must remain closed. However, as soon as this changes, we will be happy to continue to assist Little City with advice, including implementing risk assessments, ahead of trading again.”

The Suffolk Resilience Forum, which includes Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, working with Suffolk’s NHS, emergency and other public services, is responsible for the county’s response to Covid-19.

MORE: The 9 things you still can’t do despite lockdown coming to an end


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East Anglian Daily Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the East Anglian Daily Times