A LOTTERY dedicated to the people of Warrington was issued with a warning by the council to close down immediately.

Warrington Lottery, which was operating via a Facebook page, was set to carry out its first draw this weekend after residents of the town were invited to take part by paying £1 via Paypal

But the draw has been put on hold following discussions with the council's licensing department and all money will be refunded.

A spokesman for the council said “The council’s licensing team investigated the Warrington Lottery scheme, which was being run on Facebook, after being contacted by members of the public.

"It was found that the scheme did not meet the criteria for registration of a non-commercial society.

"They have been warned to close down the scheme immediately and refund any money which has already been paid.

"The matter has now been referred to the Gambling Commission who is investigating.”

Jeff Ikin, who set up Warrington Lottery, said he wanted to create 'a positive thing' for the town and that he had ' received no income or gain from it'.

He said: "We started with this system of a lottery three years ago and applied to Crewe Council for a small lotteries licence, which was granted immediately.

"We didn't do anything with the idea or licence as the timing wasn't right.

"On the basis of 17 years of charity work with Round Table, where you raise money from your town to give back to your town, we decided to set this principle up with a lottery based in Warrington, for solely the people of Warrington and charities.

"We uploaded a Facebook page this year and added some information but there was no interest and no likes or followers, so we didn't do anything with it as we were busy with other business.

"We downloaded our licence forms and filled them in for submitting to the council, thinking registration would be very easy as it was at Crewe Council.

"At the same time we placed a post on Facebook saying that we want to launch and will give free entry for two draws for the first 500 likes to our page, and we were only going to do a draw once we achieved 500 likes.

"This post went viral and everyone seemed to be understanding the concept and loved the idea and sentiment.

"Upon realising the viral success of the page we quickly got our licence submitted and thought there would be no issue."

But, following discussions with the council, Jeff has agreed to put the lottery on hold.

He said: "We are happy to work with Warrington Borough Council and Trading Standards to overcome obstacles and hurdles that are preventing our licence from being granted.

"We wish to thank all the lovely people of Warrington for showing us such a fantastic positive response to what we are trying to achieve for the great town of Warrington.

"This was a positive thing we were trying to create and are very surprised at the extremely quick response we had from the public.

"We've obviously struck a chord with the Warrington people."