A MARKET event was cancelled by the borough council at the last minute, prompting criticism from organisers and residents.
Whitby Sports and Social Club was due to host a French market last weekend, with the idea of bringing a little culture to the town.
But the council vetoed the idea the day before it was to take place, due to legal restrictions.
Joe Quinn, the licensee of the Chester Road club, said: 'A solicitor phoned me the afternoon before the function was to take place and told me the council would place an injunction on me if it went ahead.
'As far as we were concerned, when we rented the room it was for food and wine-tasting purposes only.
'Therefore, we didn't contact the council because we didn't think it was necessary. It subsequently turned out that items were to be sold.'
Because the council has a market in Ellesmere Port which has statutory protection, it means no other private markets or sales are allowed to take place in the borough unless at least 75% of the proceeds go to charity.
Mr Quinn added: 'We pay our rates and I think the attitude of the council is terrible.
'We are a very law-abiding club and couldn't see any reason why this could not go ahead.
'Hundreds of people were let down at the last minute.'
One disappointed resident said: 'It is not very often we have a chance to visit anything of this nature, and I applaud the club for trying different events for the benefit of townsfolk.'
Another resident said: 'The council have erected a nice statue and signs welcoming people to Ellesmere Port.
'But is it not a shame the 'hand of friendship' has not extended to people trying to bring a taste of a different culture to the people of our town.
'Where was the people's right to decide if they wanted to try a taste of France? I thought competition was supposed to be healthy.'
George Cooper, one of the club's committee members, said: 'We have worked hard to keep this club viable and many people were looking forward to what would have been a lovely weekend.
'But we have lost a lot of money. I find the attitude of the council incredible.
'Many people have told me it's a disgrace. The council's attitude is incredibly selfish to the people of Ellesmere Port.'
The council's borough solicitor Christopher Chapman said: 'Unfortunately we only found out about the proposed French market one day before the event, as the organisers had not informed us of their plans or contacted us to request permission.
'Because the law prohibited them from proceeding with the market, we had to hand deliver letters to Whitby Sports and Social Club, advising the chairman and organisers why the market must be cancelled.'
He added: 'There are many social events, conferences, parties, meetings and so on that can be held in clubs like this and we would not wish to stop them going about their business.
'However, there are restrictions attached to holding markets and sales.
'I strongly advise anybody organising or hosting similar events to contact us at the earliest opportunity to make sure they are allowed to hold the event before committing themselves.'