All set for a car boot sale Experience

PROPOSALS to stage a weekly car boot sale at a popular tourist attraction could finally be decided next week.

Hartlepool Borough Council is looking to generate income by allowing a third of the car park at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience (HME) for the new venture with Nobles Promotions, which would organise and market the event.

Nobles Promotions, believed to be the region’s biggest organiser of car boot events, has offered to host the weekly event every Saturday between 8am and 1pm.

The plans were first discussed a month ago but Mayor Stuart Drummond deferred making a decision as he wanted more information about what impact it would have.

At the time, 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.

Concerns centred on legislation known as the market charter, which restricts other markets opening up within a 6.6 mile radius of the town centre market.

But officers say it is a car boot sale rather than a market, that it would be held on a weekend rather than during the week and that market stall traders would not be allowed to operate at the car boot sale.

A council report said if it “transpired” the car boot event was having a negative effect on the Thursday market traders then under the terms of the market charter it would stop.

Independent councillor Cath Hill, portfolio holder for children’s and community services, will meet on Tuesday to discuss the plans.

Officers are asking for permission to test the market for one year as a trial and would probably run between March and December.

A report by John Mennear, assistant director community services, said: “Culture and information services do not have the staffing capacity to market and manage a regular car boot event on the same scale as a private event organiser.

“The potential of additional earned income for the HME site will help to safeguard the financial health of the HME and in turn safeguard jobs.

“The site is heavily reliant on earning substantial income to support its revenue budget.”

Nobles Promotions would provide marketing, staffing and other infrastructure and would charge an entry fee to the sellers.

Officers said there would still be adequate parking space for Museum of Hartlepool and HME customers.

If it is approved then weekly car boot sales would be included in HME’s events programme, in the same way as the monthly Farmers Market, and would be used to attract visitors.

The plans are subject to planning approval.

The portfolio meeting is due to take place on Tuesday, August 14, at 10am at the Civic Centre.