Cheshire West and Chester Council is refusing to respond to calls to hold an inquiry into its Guildhall function hall which saw one business operating the venue pay no rent towards council coffers with wedding parties left upset and out-of-pocket.

The Chronicle has been approached by creditors owed hundreds of pounds in up-front venue hire fees for wedding receptions and a 60th birthday party which never went ahead in the city centre venue.

Umbrellah Ltd, run by Tahera Khalid, took on the lease for the council-owned Watergate Street building in November 2011 in a rental deal which was intended to bring in 15% of net profits.

But when the agreement ended last February not one penny had been paid to the council after more than three years of trading as the council says ‘the profit levels which would have triggered a rent contribution were not achieved’.

Tahera Khalid, also known as Tara Jade, a director of Umbrellah Ltd, which ran The Guildhall in Chester

Ms Khalid, also known as Tara Jade, applied to have the firm struck off the register last March but Companies House confirms this action was suspended and the company remains active.

The council then granted a licence to Friendly Island Ltd from February 18, 2015, run by Tylon Mafi, an ex-professional rugby league player. But this company also got into trouble and The Guildhall closed last October.

Mr Mafi applied to have his company struck off the register in November but again this action was suspended.

Ms Khalid invites creditors to contact her and insists she will do her best to repay anyone owed money. The Chronicle has been unable to contact Mr Mafi.

Related story: Chester businesswoman vows: 'I will pay my debts'

Tom Rosillo and fiancée Colette Rogan, from Saltney, lost £1,000 after booking the Guildhall for their wedding reception planned for this July with a contract bearing the name Umbrellah Ltd.

Another creditor, who does not wish to be named, says he is £750 out-of-pocket for a wedding reception following dealings with Ms Khalid but says he never had a written contract so doesn’t know which company owes him money. He got Chester MP Chris Matheson involved who wrote to council chief executive Steve Robinson.

Natalie and Joanne Dawson smiling through 'gritted teeth' after arriving at their wedding reception at The Guildhall because the memory of their big day was 'tarnished forever' due to a series of problems.

A wedding reception for Natalie and Joanne Dawson did go ahead in the Guildhall in June 2015 but they are seeking a total refund of £2,340 from Umbrellah Ltd after a catalogue of alleged calamities on their special day including the venue being locked when the happy couple arrived in a vintage Daimler.

“We were left stood in full bridal regalia outside a chained up building - in the rain - panicking about whether the reception was even going to go ahead,” said the couple in a letter of complaint to Ms Khalid headed 'Guildhall debacle'.

Creditor Maria Parlane and her partner Gary Lloyd outside The Guildhall in Chester.

Maria Parlane, from Hoole, is upset after paying Friendly Island Ltd £850 to host her partner Gary Lloyd’s 60th birthday party in December but had heard ‘nothing’ from them. The first they knew the event wasn’t going ahead was after spotting a public notice in the newspaper advertising the Guildhall as 'to let'.

Ms Khalid, former secretary of Chester Business Club, a serving magistrate, says she will take responsibility for debts relating to Umbrellah Ltd.

She told The Chronicle: “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.”

Some creditors including Tom Rosillo feel the council as landlord had a responsibility towards him but said the authority had been less than helpful. And there have even been calls for the council to hold an inquiry into its own processes given the Guildhall was not advertised the first time around and there was no paperwork regarding proposals brought forward.

The Guildhall in Watergate Street, Chester

Creditor Maria Parlane, who is going to the local government ombudsman, said: “They obviously have not done their vetting homework.”

This time around The Guildhall was advertised as ‘to let’ in an official public notice and the council is seeking rental income of £15,000 per annum plus 3% of gross sales.

In response to calls for an inquiry, a CWaC spokesperson would only say: “The council entered into the arrangements with the former tenant in good faith. When the tenant failed to comply with obligations under the agreement, the tenancy was terminated by the council.”

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: