'It's ridiculous' - Suffolk shuts down under-5s Little City groups, but Essex doesn't
- Credit: LITTLE CITY
The owner of the Little City playgroup franchise company has been told to stop operating in Suffolk for a week until lockdown restrictions are eased - while other counties say it's fine to carry on.
Vicki Fletcher has been told she can continue operating the franchises in other parts of the country - Essex, Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire - where rules appear to be interpreted differently.
Little City operates a number of mobile playgroup franchises for under-fives across the country - and this is the second time it has had problems in Suffolk.
Playgroups and 'parent and toddler' groups are among the activities that were allowed to resume by the government on April 12 - and Little City franchisees started operating again.
However at the end of last week, the Suffolk franchisee, who has been operating since the April 12, was told that she could not operate in Suffolk until May 17 because it was seen as a mobile "Soft play centre", not a parent and toddler group.
Mrs Fletcher said: "I spent all day on the phone to-ing and fro-ing with them, but they would not change their mind - it means the franchisee is going to have to cancel the events this week although they've been successfully operating since the last easing.
"I've checked with Essex and the other places we operate, and they say it's fine. We're a parent and toddler group. We can carry on. But in Suffolk it's different."
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They were now having to contact people booked for Little City sessions in places like Ipswich, Copdock, Stowmarket, Lavenham, Thurston and Bury St Edmunds that their sessions will be cancelled this week.
Mrs Fletcher said: "It is only a week - but it is a week of lost income for the franchisee and it means the children will not see their friends. We have done all the checks. Numbers are strictly limited. We are an under-five group that has passed all the rules. It seems ridiculous."
This is the second time Little City has fallen foul of the Suffolk Resilience Forum - last August they were prevented from opening although other areas allowed them to operate.
We tried to get a comment from the forum which is administered through the county council but were told it was not possible to speak to anyone about this at the weekend.