FAMILIES were barricaded inside a children’s play centre after a man was attacked by a gang armed with a “3ft machete.”

Kids Kingdom, in Garon Park, off Eastern Avenue, Southend, is currently holding a week of free events for children who have got 100 per cent attendance at local schools.

An altercation between a group of passing youths and parents broke out on Tuesday night.

A man, aged in his fifties, was assaulted during the incident. Thankfully he was not injured.

Eyewitnesses told how one of the gang members had a machete hidden in his trouser leg.

The parent said: “We were queuing up to get in when this group of five or six youths attacked this man.

“Apparently they had sworn at him and he had asked what they were doing.

“They were just out looking for a fight.

“Kids Kingdom were amazing and the police were brilliant.

“We were all bundled into the reception area and they barricaded the door.”

Essex Police said it was unable to confirm the ages of the youths involved. A spokesman told the Echo a weapon was being carried by the group - but was unable to confirm whether it was a machete.

Ian Trask, owner of Kids Kingdom, said: “We do 100 per cent attendance parties which is a free event for the children.

“While parents were attending one of them, a group made their way from McDonalds and as they came through the car park they assaulted one of the parents.

“Luckily he was a big guy and wasn’t injured.

“We reported the incident to the police and gave a statement to them.”

An Essex Police spokesman confirmed the force is investigating the incident.

He said: “Officers are investigating a report that a man in his fifties was assaulted at a children’s activity centre.

“An argument between the victim and an unknown suspect is believed to have taken place at the premises in Garon Park, Southend, at around 6.20pm on Tuesday.

“The victim was then reported to have been confronted by a group of men and young people who attempted to assault him.

“One of the group was also believed to have been carrying what was described as a machete.

“The man was uninjured during the incident.

“Enquiries are ongoing.”

Anyone with information can call Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.