AN Ellesmere Port family have been left baffled as to why Cheshire West and Chester Council has denied them the chance to take on the running of the town's former Fun Factory.

The soft play centre and family-friendly party venue on Merseyton Road shut its doors recently as the council said the business was unable to meet financial obligations.

That led Martyn Evans, along with wife Caroline and sister Justine, to declare their interest in running the unit as a new soft play centre and social hub.

But despite numerous enquiries, their proposal has been flatly rejected by the council, which has instead decided to "remarket the property for other commercial uses."

Mr Evans said the council offered him an alternative unit in the Port Arcades – but in a spot which did not have baby change facilities or dedicated toilets.

He said: "The Westminster estate is in a deprived area with not much for anyone, and the children's play centre was a place for children to go to, for young mums to meet up, and the kids can get a decent meal.

"We asked if anyone was rescuing the Fun Factory and the council said it was not very well managed. We knew that, but we were ready to put the effort in and run it sustainably. This is not something that would make me a millionaire but the premises is all there, with a kitchen and all the equipment.

"I have had contact from people from the other side of Ellesmere Port and from Bromborough and they said they would use it.

"But the council are not willing to let me use a council-owned unit in Ellesmere Port.

"For comedy value they suggested I rent a unit in the Port Arcades and when I pointed out that the units there would not have baby change facilities or separate toilets, the council said we could let our customers use the public toilets opposite Asda.

"I am astonished that the council can do this. Westminster has nothing for kids and the same thing that can be said about Ellesmere Port.

"I am an honest man and me and my business partners were trying to help the community that we live in, but the council don't care and to be fair I am losing my faith in our democracy and political system."

Mr Evans has now taken up the issue with Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Justin Madders.

Graham Pink, director of place commercial management and delivery at Cheshire West and Chester Council, said in relation to the Fun Factory site: "The council has taken back this property as the business was unable to meet its financial obligations. The equipment within the premises is owned by the outgoing tenant and they are currently taking steps to remove it.

"This is the second ‘play barn’ business run from these premises that has failed. The council has an obligation to ensure it manages its commercial estate to generate returns which, in turn, contribute toward the running cost of the council.

"When tenants are unable to meet their obligations it creates additional costs for the council.

"It is clear that the premises have not been a successful location for a ‘play barn’ type use and we have therefore decided to remarket the property for other commercial uses.

"There may well be other premises more suited to this use in the area and we are happy to discuss this."