Tears as parties cancelled

ANGRY parents have had to tell their children they won t be having the birthday party they were promised after an activity company shut down suddenly. Castaway Kids at the Roaring Meg Retail Park in Stevenage closed on Tuesday leaving parents that had boo

ANGRY parents have had to tell their children they won't be having the birthday party they were promised after an activity company shut down suddenly.

Castaway Kids at the Roaring Meg Retail Park in Stevenage closed on Tuesday leaving parents that had booked parties as recently as a week ago out of pocket and desperately trying to save the day.

Joanne Baker of the St Nicholas area in Stevenage had booked a birthday party for her son James whose birthday was on New Year's Eve.

The 38-year-old organised for 15 children to attend the eight-year-old's party, which was due to take place at the centre this Sunday, but she went there on Tuesday to find the building was empty.

Joanne said: "I paid the deposit and full balance beforehand. I've lost £120 and my son is in tears at such short notice.

"They were still taking bookings two weeks ago and cashed the cheque all right. I don't think we're going to get anywhere.

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"They do the parties every three quarters of an hour so if you think how many there are per day that's a lot of people they've annoyed!"

She added: "My house isn't big enough to have 15 kids around. The money does matter, but it's the principle as well really.

"I've got a bad feeling we've lost our money. I can't believe that people would just accept it. I'm quite laid back, but I think this is really out of order!"

Another angry parent is Debbie Hatton, of Aylwood Drive, Stevenage.

The 33-year-old paid £300 for her seven-year-old Matthew's out-of-hours party. But she went to the centre to finalise the arrangements and found the doors firmly locked.

Debbie said: "I only paid the balance last Thursday, I'm gutted. It was booked for January 15, after hours, so it was more expensive.

"The lady, who I believe was from their accountants, called and said I'd get something in the post regarding what had happened. I'm a single mum so £300 is a huge amount of money.

She added: "I realised I was going to have to assume that the company has gone bust and start making arrangements so his birthday isn't a complete disaster.

"His school has been brilliant, it's said we can use the gym. Matthew looked very worried at first and confused but now he's excited about the fact that he can have the party at school."

The sign on the door of the activity centre simply states: "The directors of Castaway Kids Ltd apologise that due to circumstances beyond their control this activity centre will be closed from January 8."

The owners of Castaway Kids in Stevenage have been uncontactable and Darren Hill, the owner of the Castaway Kids centre in St Albans is unaware of the circumstances at the other premises.

Parents who have been calling to see if they can move the parties are being told they will have to pay up twice.

Mr Hill said: "I purchased the St Albans site off them as a totally new company. I have no working relationship with them at all.

"We have had a few phone calls to see if we could accommodate the parties.

"But parents are going to have to pay again as we can't provide the service for nothing.