Running of Calderdale car boot sales can't be run by council but hope others step in

Costs of running council-run car boot sales in Calderdale were outweighing income from them by the time they closed, councillors heard.

Monday, 20th December 2021, 12:00 pm
Car boot sale at North Bridge, Halifax

But although it is considered not viable for Calderdale Council to operate, the door is open for other providers to do it through a licence from the authority, they were told.

Car boot sales at both Halifax and Brighouse were suspended on March 16, 2020, and have not traded since.

Income from car boot sales has declined in recent years along with a decrease in use and costs were in excess of budget targets set, so the decision was taken to close them last autumn, with the sites being used for other activities.

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Reviewing market and boot sale figures, members of the council’s Cabinet Markets Working Party heard there was a forecast pressure of £74,000 from the car boot sales, as there has been no income since their closure – but costs have continued to be incurred.

Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said this was because staff who had worked at the now-cancelled car boot sales had been used to plug service gaps and cover other vacancies in the markets services.

In July, Coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town) had presented a petition – signed by 1,800 people – to the full Calderdale Council calling for the return of the one at North Bridge, Halifax.

She told this month’s working party figures showed car boot sales had been losing around £50,000.

“I don’t see how it’s possible to lose that amount of money,” she said.

Coun Swift said she appreciated that unlike private car boot sale operators the council paid its staff a proper rate but the figure still left her wondering.

Alan Lee, the council’s lead for corporate assets and facilities, said it was a significant number and due to a combination of factors.

Because of when the sales were held staff were paid the due weekend working rate.

There had also been a reduced take-up of pitches in recent years dwindling to the point where costs outweighed the income and the car boot sales had become unviable, he said.

“We have got to the point where we could not sustain them in a viable way,” he said, adding the decision was made “with a heavy heart.”

“That’s not to say there isn’t an opportunity for other providers to operate with a licence from the council,” said Mr Lee.

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