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Ball pool protest over soft play closures lands at north-east politician’s door

Becky with the balls she took to Gillian Martin's office.
Becky with the balls she took to Gillian Martin's office.

The owner of a north-east soft play centre has taken part in a nationwide protest action against their closure.

Becky Mennie owns Inverurie-based charity BECS Inclusive Soft Play Centre – and while it was allowed to reopen on Monday, others in level two areas were not.

She was unable to take part in a protest at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday so travelled to Gillian Martin’s office in Oldmeldrum to highlight the issue.

Becky took a box of play balls and a letter to Ms Martin’s Aberdeenshire East constituency headquarters.

Becky Mennie with the box of balls she delivered to MSP Gillian Martin’s office.

But she had to take the items home again after it emerged the office was not occupied because of the pandemic.

Before the north-east was placed under level one restrictions allowing soft play facilities to open for more than a year, Becky had urged the Scottish Government to allow them to open sooner.

National protest against reopening rules

Other soft play owners gathered outside the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday to urge ministers to allow those based in level two areas to reopen.

Becky said she travelled to Ms Martin’s office to make her voice heard and she has also been repeatedly contacting the first minister about the issue.

She said: “I went to Gillian Martin’s office in Oldmeldrum because I could not get down to Edinburgh for the protest.

“We had some balls from a ball pool and a solicitors letter setting out why we think all soft plays should be open.

“The guys down at the protest spoke to Anas Sarwar for a while so hopefully, he will have listened.

“I have already sent Nicola Sturgeon ten to twelve emails every day but she has never replied.

“We are lucky we are getting to reopen but even if we were not allowed we were going to reopen on Monday anyway.”

‘Great’ to have customers back at soft play

Becky was protesting against the closure of soft plays during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Along with many other play centres in level one areas, BECS Inclusive Soft Play Centre, on Inverurie’s Burghmuir Place, reopened on Monday.

Becky is pleased to have children and parents back after an absence of more than a year.

She said: “We opened on Monday and it has been quite nice to have our regular customers in.

“The feedback so far has been great from parents and it is great to have so many familiar faces back at the centre.”

Gillian Martin MSP said: “Since the beginning of the pandemic businesses have faced restrictions which have undoubtedly been challenging but have ensured we protect the NHS and the incredible demands placed on our health service by the coronavirus pandemic.

“As a result the Scottish Government has made significant funding grants available to support businesses during this time. Since March 2020 my team and I have dealt with an increasing workload and regularly hold virtual surgeries for constituents to attend.

“My office is also available should anyone need support via telephone and email. We want to ensure we help as many people as possible and return to as much normality as possible as soon as it is safe to do so.”

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