A businesswoman insists she will do her best to repay anyone owed money after her events business based at Chester’s Guildhall got into financial difficulties.
Tahera Khalid says her company Umbrellah Ltd experienced problems last year after taking on the lease for the council-owned building in 2011.
Companies House confirms the company is still active but with a proposal to voluntarily strike it off the register which has been suspended.
Ms Khalid, also known as Tara Jade, left the Guildhall in October but promises to honour any debts relating to her firm.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) is now reletting The Guildhall for £15,000 per annum plus 3% of gross sales, with a March 25 deadline for informal tenders.
The Chronicle has been contacted by customer Tom Rosillo who says he and his fiancée are out-of-pocket after handing over the £1,000 up-front venue hire fee for a wedding reception planned for this July with a contract bearing the name Umbrellah Ltd.
He said he was informed by Tahera Khalid herself that she had ‘been kicked out’.
Ms Khalid, former secretary of Chester Business Club, a serving magistrate, says she is staying with family in Wales as she recovers from a major operation.
She said: “I’m not working at the moment. I’m not earning any money. I have closed down and have no assets.
“If people get in touch with details and contracts and the amount they paid I will do my best to get the money back to them. Two people have come forward and the rest are all up to date.”
Ms Khalid accepted communications with customers could have been better but said she was given short notice to leave the premises and was ‘upset at the time’.
“I’ve had a tough time,” she said. “Once I am working I will make sure they get the money back.”
The businesswoman, who ran fashion store Jade Couture in Eastgate Row for ten years until its closure in 2006 due to ‘high rents’, claimed she invested £100,000 in the Guildhall including installing new bars. Ms Khalid also said she ‘put in a new boiler system’ but when challenged accepted CWaC had footed the £170,000 bill.
Ms Khalid, who was chair of the fundraising committee for Babygrow appeal at the Countess of Chester Hospital, added: “The building is in good condition and ready for someone to take it to the next level.”
The businesswoman, who has split up from her partner Pravin, is no longer involved with Carriages retro cafe-bar at Chester Railway Station and a multi-million pound hotel conversion of a North Wales mansion, which she and her partner had purchased for £1m, had come to a halt after it went into receivership.
She said the lease had come to an end on the Watergate Street premises from which she ran the Waikiki bar. She is not involved with its successor called Zanzi-bar which opened on Friday (March 18).
Creditor Tom Rosillo, 27, from Manchester, who contacted The Chronicle over his cancelled wedding day arrangements, is unhappy with Ms Khalid but also the way CWaC landlords handled the situation.
Tom, whose wedding to fiancée Colette Rogan, from Sandy Lane, Saltney, will now take place at The Queen Hotel in Chester, said: “Tara basically stopped answering her phone after she called me to tell me the news.
"I couldn’t get in touch with the council either, no one would speak to me. So now I can either go through the small claims court with a very slim chance of recouping the £1,000 or just leave it.”
The Chronicle has previously asked the council under Freedom of Information to provide details about the process used to appoint Umbrellah Ltd to manage the Chester Guildhall supplying any relevant documentation such as a copy of the ad inviting people to tender.
Property was not advertised
The council responded: “Following the vacation by the Guild, proposals were received from parties who enquired following the property being vacated. The property was not advertised.”
It continued: “The head of facilities and asset management considered the proposals and selected the current tenant. This person is no longer employed by CWaC and there is no correspondence regarding the proposals.”
Asked how many other companies/individuals were considered to manage the Guildhall, CWaC said: “There were at least two proposals but as there are no records no further details are available.”
In a statement, Cllr David Armstrong, cabinet member for legal and finance, said: “We have been contacted by members of the public in regards to bookings for future events at Chester Guildhall that were arranged with the former tenant.
“We have advised that any such bookings and associated payments are a contract between the tenant and the individual, and the matter should therefore be pursued with the former tenant.”
The Guildhall has been the site of a church since the 14th century. The existing building was built in the 1860s and was a church for 100 years before the lease was taken on by the Freemen and Guilds of the City of Chester. In 2011 the lease was handed back to the council but The Guilds still have use of the building for all their important functions.
Creditors can contact Tahera Khalid by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org