PLANS to stage a weekly car boot sale at a popular council-run tourist attraction have been deferred.
Hartlepool Borough Council is planning to allow a third of the car park at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience (HME) for the new venture in a bid to generate income by entering into an agreement with Nobles Promotions who would organise and market the event.
But Mayor Stuart Drummond has called for more information over concerns about what impact it would have.
Mayor Drummond said the council had turned down similar car boot applications from other organisations in the past and wanted to make sure the local authority wasn’t “bending the rules” to suit.
It centres around legislation known as the market charter which restricts other markets opening up within a 6.6 mile radius of the town centre market.
Officers said it was a car boot sale rather than a market and that there are other weekly car boot sales operating including one at the Mayfair Centre, at Seaton Carew.
They added that it would also be held on a weekend rather than during the week.
Ahead of the meeting, the council’s public protection team had also raised concerns over the distance between the proposed car boot sale and the town centre market.
It was agreed to defer the matter in order to get more legal advice, at a meeting of the children’s and community services portfolio.
Mayor Drummond, standing in for independent councillor Cath Hill, said there had been a number of occasions in recent years when the council had been approached by organisations looking to do something similar but were turned down.
He added: “Now the council is setting up its own and it flies in the face of the instructions we have given it.
“What precedent does this set?”
John Mennear, assistant director of community services, said this would be a car boot sale rather than a market.
Mayor Drummond added: “I have no problem with car boot sales. The issue is the legal advice we are getting now seems to conflict with the legal advice that we have been given for years to stop organisations running their own.
“I just want a bit more clarity.”
Nobles Promotions, believed to be the region’s biggest organiser of car boot events, have made an offer to host the weekly event every Saturday between 8am and 1pm.
If the plans are eventually agreed then it would be on a trial basis for a year and would probably run between March and December.
Nobles Promotions would provide marketing, staffing and other infrastructure and would charge an entry fee to the sellers.
Income from the venture would go into the HME budget to help safeguard the site and staff jobs.
Officers said there would still be adequate parking space for Museum of Hartlepool and HME customers.