MASCOTS from soft play parks across the UK, including from here in York, descended on Westminster today (July 16) to bring a message to the Government.

Dozens of mascots paraded through central London to Parliament Square and then Downing Street with owners, staff and young families, in a bid to get the Government to provide clear guidance on when and how they can re-open.

Janice Dunphy who runs Web Adventure Park and is chair of the Family Entertainment Association, was among them and said she felt the event was a success.

She said: "There were film crews from the BBC and ITV so hopefully the message will get across. Our petition has got about 19,000 signatures and counting and we'll be back to hand that in soon.

"There were a lot of people beeping their horns, I think they were a bit surprised to see a giant Pokemon, a dinosaur, an ant and a ladybird walking down the street."

York Press:

The mascots protesting in Westminster to have indoor play centres reopened

Janice has previously said her business has lost well over £500,000 in turnover since she was forced to shut in March.

She employs 49 people, 20 of whom have been on furlough and nine of whom she’s just had to make redundant. She said every effort is being made to make them safe for customers, but the Government has given no guidance on when they can reopen.

She said: “I’m having to make horrendous decisions every day. We have had no financial help as our rateable value is more than £50,000 and we can’t claim insurance. Before all this, we had saved £150,000 to make improvements to the park, but all that’s gone now and we’re down to our last few pounds.

“I’ve spent £500 on hand sanitizer, we’ve bought two fogging machines and spent £6,000 on the website so people can book an allotted slot online and will be allocated a table so we can do 100 per cent track and trace and there will be ordering at the tables.”

York Press:

An ant and a ladybird mascot from the Web Adventure Park, York heading down to protest in London

A recent survey undertaken by BALPPA, the trade body representing British leisure parks, piers and attractions, revealed up to two-thirds of the country’s indoor play centres are facing permanent closure within weeks.

On Friday, BALPPA, which has more than 400 members and represents over 180 indoor play centres, started an emergency online petition urging Boris Johnson to act. To date it has attracted over 16,000 signatures.

The Prime Minister has previously said: “It’s important that we do not increase the risk of transmission which is why “close proximity” venues such as nightclubs, soft-play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools, water parks, bowling alleys and spas will need to remain closed for now.”