A MARTIAL arts event was cancelled at the last-minute - after Southend Council found out children would be competing.

The Elite Fighting Championship: Double Impact event was supposed to take place at the Chase Sports and Fitness Centre in Westcliff on Saturday.

However, a council spokesman said on Friday: “Unfortunately we have had to ask for this mixed Thai and boxing event to be cancelled due to fundamental concerns over child protection.

“This centred around the apparent age of the children competing in this event.”

The spokesman said had the council been involved from the beginning the outcome may have been different.

He said: “Then we would have been able to raise our concerns over the age of some competitors; the event organiser could have perhaps has a modified format, allowing it to go-ahead.”

Elite Fighting Championship event organisers could not be reached for comment.

The poster for the Westcliff bouts features pictures of both children and adults, and advertised it as being a mixed “muay thai, K1 and boxing event” which was donating money to the Macmillan Cancer Support Fund.

The group posted a message on its Facebook page just hours before the cancellation on Friday, stating: “Efc show all set for tomorrow...” and thanked another promoter for helping to draft in extra fighters.

*In December 2011, mixed martial arts group Ultimate Warrior Challenge was banned from holding events at Garons Park Leisure Centre after they put on a display which featured children.

The group has since returned to the venue.