A CARLISLE play centre has reopened after being forced shut due to rent back payments.

BrickStation, on English Damside, temporarily closed after the landlord took back possession of the property.

Due to the pandemic, the owner, Luke Crocker, was unable to pay off a backlog of monthly rental payments.

He set up a GoFundMe page, managed to acquire a loan and came to an agreement with the landlord, meaning that he could reopen on Sunday.

Mr Crocker said: "It was critically important for me [to be able to open] this half term because of the number of people that would use us over half term compared to the number of people that just come on weekends.

"To take advantage of people wanting to buy Christmas presents.

"If I was eventually able to open in late November, I’d have missed so much opportunity."

Mr Crocker said that the reopening had been well received.

He said: "We were inundated with customers on Sunday when I put out the post on Facebook and people started flooding in.

"It has been busy. It’s been busy with a few regulars, a few new people and someone showing their moral support for its existence and what we’re trying to do for the community."

While the centre has managed to reopen, Mr Crocker is still trying to raise funds to help pay off his backlog of rental payments.

"I’ve not got turnover enough to cope with paying a year’s worth of rent when I haven’t been open," he said.

"It’s a bit of a noose around my neck.

"I’m still trying to find alternative routes to raise that.

"The public have been so brilliant in their attitude and their support."

Luke, a former teacher is going to change the GoFundMe so that people are rewarded for donating.

"I will be trying to set up that so it’s a bit more quid pro quo.

"I’m really grateful for the support from the public so far and the biggest support people can give is to raise awareness so that people can make choices about visiting us. If you don’t know you can’t come.

"And it’s a use it or lose it, that’s the same for most local businesses."