U-turn in decision to close Ottery play area – but it will operate on different terms

(L-R) Claire Phaby, Baby Sensory class leader, Stuart Phillips, and Jen Steward, Baby Sensory owner.

(L-R) Claire Phaby, Baby Sensory class leader, Stuart Phillips, and Jen Steward, Baby Sensory owner. Picture: Sue Cade - Credit: Archant

An Ottery coffee shop owner has pulled a U-turn on a decision to close its play area – a move he said was prompted by ‘continued negativity’.

Stuart Phillips, of Tickety-Boo, announced plans to permanently close the shop's Play Kingdom, which was popular with children.

However, Mr Phillips has now revealed that the play area will still be usable - albeit on different terms than before.

The move comes as the back section of the building at Tickety-Boo, which formerly housed the soft play and pirate ship, is being rented to Baby Sensory.

The award-winning initiative runs programmes for babies and children from birth to Key Stage 1.

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Jen Steward, from Baby Sensory East Devon, said: "It is a really exciting development for us and we are looking forward to making great use of the space.

"We are expecting to launch our classes at the new Baby Sensory Wow Centre at Tickety-Boo on Saturday, November 2 with our weekend special Baby Pumpkin, a non-spooky family-friendly party.

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"Our winter term will follow on from that."

Mr Phillips said he has decided to retain the main section of the Play Kingdom, which was bespoke.

He said: "This area will now be available for private hire for children's parties and other events, with catering available if required."

In another change to operations, the café will be open until 9.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays for family-friendly dining. This includes complimentary use of the play area for children accompanying diners.

Mr Phillips said: "Closing the play kingdom was a hard decision because of all the work that had gone into it.

"This solution, where we welcome a baby-friendly business into the premises and still make use of the play area, seems like a great option to me and the staff.

"We are very excited to move into the next stage of Tickety-Boo."

The sudden closure of Tickety-Boo's Play Kingdom was announced by Mr Phillips earlier this month.

In a statement posted on Facebook, he said he put his 'heart and soul' into the attraction, but had experienced 'continuing negativity' and a 'handful of people who didn't understand the concept'.

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