A successful party business is having to close its doors because of a world wide shortage of helium.

Despite a healthy order book, Karen and Steve Lea, are winding up Sleak Balloons, because they cannot get hold of any gas.

Mrs Lea, said problems in the USA mean there is a six month wait for helium and prices have more than tripled since the summer.

The couple, who have run the business from their home in Great Yeldham for five years, said they are regularly being forced to cancel jobs because they cannot get hold of any gas.

Mrs Lea said, who counted Halstead Town Council among her customers, said: “We have had to cancel three orders already this week.

“There was a glitch in supply last year but that sorted itself out.

“Since the summer there has been a six month waiting list for helium and prices have tripled, meaning we are struggling to give our customers a fair price.

“We may order six canisters of helium but often the supplier can only deliver one.

“There is little chance of the situation improving any time soon, so it is with much regret that at the end of November we will cease trading.”

Full story in this week's Gazette.