Ipswich play centre on the brink after closing during coronavirus crisis
PUBLISHED: 16:00 11 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:53 13 April 2020
The boss of an Ipswich play centre is warning that its future could be in doubt if it isn’t given extra support by its landlord – a company owned by the borough council.
Bounce trampoline and Billy Beez play centre opened its doors on the Anglia Retail Park in September 2017 in part of the unit that was previously occupied by B&Q. There are other Bounce centres in Milton Keynes and Peterborough.
However area operations manager Graham Baker has warned that the centre had found business was slow – but it looked to be doing better until the coronavirus crisis hit.
He said: “We had a slow start in terms of success in our first couple of years but momentum was changing in the first half of this year until Covid 19 crippled the retail and leisure industry.
“During the past two years we have experienced difficult times in terms of performance and have been in constant communications with the landlord to seek assistance and support. When the Government asked us to close our business due to the effects of the Coronavirus we, of course, complied immediately.
“We were hoping to then get some support from our landlords to help us through these unprecedented times (as has happened with our landlords at our other two sites). Instead they sent us a ‘Notice of Withdrawal’ informing us that due to non-payment they will be withdrawing £159,000 from our deposit as payment for upcoming rent.
“Although they are within their rights in terms of the lease terms and conditions I think it is very disappointing and unacceptable in the way they have handled this case.
“The reality is such that we will more than likely be forced into administration as a consequence jobs will be lost, not to mention the goodwill and the loss of an essential leisure facility so vital to the Ipswich-based community.”
Anglia Retail Park is one of several sites across the area owned by Ipswich Borough Assets, the company set up by the council to buy commercial property to provide a regular income to the authority. It is understood that officials from IBA have been talking regularly to operators of Bounce and Billy Beez. A spokesman said: “We have contacted our tenants about any rent arrears they may have.”
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