Popular Hemel Hempstead play park calls for clarity on when it can re-open

The indoor soft play centre has been closed since March

Thursday, 16th July 2020, 5:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th July 2020, 6:10 pm

A soft play business, with centres in Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted, is calling for clarity from the government on when it can reopen.

Helen Whittington, owner of DJ’s play, and the company mascot, joined mascots representing soft play centres from across the UK in Westminster today (Thursday).

The British Association for Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions, of which Helen is a committee member, launched a petition to rescue indoor play from closure. The petition has gained the support of more than 18,800 people so far.

Helen was in Westminster today with her mascot to ask for Government guidance

Helen, who also runs a centre in St Albans, said: "It has been really hard for us, we have been closed since March and there has been no guidance for indoor soft play.

"We are not asking the Government to let us open, we just want some guidance on when we could possibly open.

"Our Hemel centre, is really struggling financially and are not eligible for the small business grant. We haven't had any support.

"We are trying to survive in Hemel Hempstead as a play centre facility, but have had zero help from Dacorum Borough Council to support DJ’s Play

Helen and the company mascot were two of many representing soft play centres from across the UK in Westminster today

"We are in London today to raise awareness, we will be handing the petition over and if people can sign it that would be a great support.

"We just want guidance, they have given guidance to gyms and climbing centres but not us, we feel like we have been forgotten about.

"We are surviving at the moment but I don't know if we will get through this."

A spokesperson for Dacorum Borough Council said: "The Discretionary Grant Fund set out certain criteria that businesses were required to meet and unfortunately a number of businesses did not meet the required criteria.

DJ's in Hemel Hempstead calls for clarity on when it can re-open

"Our Economic Development team is continuing to work closely with Dacorum businesses to offer support and advice during these times."

The petition, set up by British Association for Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions, states that throughout the pandemic children have been overlooked.

The petition says: "The mental and physical health of children is especially important in an age group that is the least vulnerable to the virus and also the least able to comprehend the enormity of the situation.

"The National Children’s Bureau has called on government to put children as a third pillar of their recovery strategy, alongside health and the economy. They have been backed in their campaign by over 160 organisations, from teaching unions to children’s charities. But the government has not yet listened."

Helen added: "We want people to say that they miss having parties at DJ's, that their children miss coming here, we want to raise awareness of the fact that we are still here and we are still trying to get more clarity on the situation."