‘We feel frustrated’ - Mobile play company told it can’t reopen yet in Suffolk
PUBLISHED: 19:00 10 August 2020
Bosses of a mobile play company are upset at a decision they can’t reopen yet in Suffolk after all.
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.
“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.”
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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.
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