AN Ellesmere Port pensioner has expressed dismay after a community Christmas dinner had to be cancelled – because of the General Election.

A Christmas dinner event for pensioners was due to be held in both Ellesmere Port and Neston in the run-up to Christmas Day.

But Justin Madders, the area's former MP and current parliamentary candidate, recently informed residents he was "devastated" he had to cancel the events.

He said: "As the election is in the run up to Christmas, it will sadly impact badly on a number of people in Ellesmere Port and Neston who deserve better.

"I am devastated that I have had to cancel the annual Pensioner Christmas Parties in both Ellesmere Port and in Neston because election rules consider this to be a bribe to the electorate."

Mr Madders has since confirmed that he would look to organise the event in January, after the election.

Ellesmere Port resident David Small, 77, said he was disappointed the event, which has seen 150-180 pensioners attend in the past, could not go ahead at present.

He said: "All of us go every year. That is the only time we get together, it's only once a year.

"I'm a widower, and I've been going the past five years.

"The local firms normally provide resources, they have provided catering for it. The town hall staff serve in the bar.

"I can see why Justin Madders can't do it this year, but could it be delegated to others? Could the mayor do it, or one of the local businesses?"

Previously, Cheshire West and Chester Council hosted the event, with funding coming out of councillors' members budgets.

In response, the council said it had not been contacted about the Christmas meal being cancelled in Ellesmere Port, but there were a number of events taking place in the area for pensioners.

These include a free tea dance on December 4, to be held from 2-4pm in the Civic Hall in Ellesmere Port. Those interested can book their place by calling Business Operations on 0151 337 4668.

Many of the local community centres across the borough also provide regular weekly lunches for older residents for a small charge, and usually do a Christmas lunch throughout the festive period.

Those in the Ellesmere Port area include:

Little Sutton Community Centre – Luncheon Club Wednesday at noon, with a Meet 2 Veg on the third Sunday of every month at noon.

Wolverham – Luncheon Club every Wednesday and Friday

Westminster – Luncheon Club on Mondays at noon.

More information and other events are listed on the website.