Buggy hell! Fun tots’ classes ‘doomed’ after Clissold House pram ban

The scrap of land outside Clissold House which has been earmarked for a buggy park

The scrap of land outside Clissold House which has been earmarked for a buggy park - Credit: Richard Larcombe

Entertainers who run tots’ classes in Clissold House have complained a new pram ban there will threaten their livelihoods.

Richard Larcombe of Sparkysongs who has been entertaining youngsters in Clissold House

Richard Larcombe of Sparkysongs who has been entertaining youngsters in Clissold House - Credit: Richard Larcombe

Just a fortnight ago Hackney Council announced in a statement on Twitter that some parents will no longer be permitted to bring their buggies inside the Grade II listed building in Clissold Park, Stoke Newington, from October. Parents attending baby and toddler singing, dancing and massage classes upstairs will have to lock them up on a scrap of land outside.

Business owners who have worked in the house for six years had no idea of the plan which comes into operation next week – despite it being a year in the pipeline - and many parents have confirmed it will put them off coming. The council says the move will prevent damage to the mansion house, which is listed as one of the top 10 wedding venues in London. Sparkysongs entertainer, Richard Larcombe, told the Gazette: “What the council didn’t mention is that you have to bring your own lock, which no-one will, so our business is doomed if this goes ahead.

“I just can’t see how anyone is going to attend a class at the house if they have to use this utterly inadequate facility. Imagine having to get twins out of a buggy in the rain, put the cover back over the buggy without putting either child down on the wet ground, deal with the lock then walk with the babies through the rain to the session.

“This is an attempt by the council to exclude children’s activities from the house in order to keep it pristine for corporate events and weddings and keep the community out.”


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Single mother Penelope Blissenden who runs baby massage classes relies on Clissold House as her main source of income, and is worried how she will survive financially while seeking an alternative venue.

“The effort and time and money required to set up elsewhere seems very overwhelming, after finally getting my business in a secure place,” she said. “This places a lot of stress and pressure on me to try and sort out an alternative venue and to consider how I will do this without the support of my regular income to provide for myself and my daughter.”

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Anuschka Socher, who runs Diddi Dance classes for toddlers, is also concerned about the move and is already looking for another venue.

“I understand that they want to minimise damage to the building, and most parents would be fine storing their buggies in a designated area if they’re sheltered from the weather and protected from theft, however, the arrangement they are trying to put in place is madness.”

A council spokesman said parents can borrow rain covers from the park office.

“After the house’s refurbishment in March, where we painted all the rooms, sanded and revarnished all of the floors and installed new carpets, we installed the new buggy park and put up notices encouraging parents to use it,” they added. “In September, we put up notices informing parents that from October 1, all buggies should be parked there. We informed all room bookers by email.”

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