Big village car boot ‘hitting Boston’s market’

Fruit and vegetable stall on Boston Market.
Fruit and vegetable stall on Boston Market.

Boston market traders say they are being hit by the success of Stickney’s expanding car boot.

Richard and Sue Gosling, market traders and owners of the Tasty Tucker, have described the current situation as being ‘overall diabolical’.

Mr Gosling said: “The so-called ‘car boot’ market at Stickney is killing us. It’s not a ‘car boot’ sale any more. It’s a full-on market. Just look at the number of traders who are there.”

Michael Hallet, one of Boston’s longest standing traders agrees: “It’s hit trade. You just don’t get the people on Saturday.”

He also criticised Trading Standards and called for them to do more.

Mark Keal, service manager at Lincolnshire Trading Standards, said: “Lincolnshire Trading Standards works seven days a week, monitoring and attending markets across the county.

“Officers have carried out routine inspections at Stickney market within the past month and will continue to make inspections and regular visits over the coming weeks and months.

“These are often unannounced or at the request of the management.

“Stickney market has also signed up to the Real Deal market charter, meaning the management of the market has made a commitment to safe and fair trading at their market.”

The sale initially started as a small ‘car boot’ sale for private sellers, but has since expanded and has a large number of professional market traders.

One shopper told The Standard: “It’s huge now. I’ve been coming for a number of years, but in the last 12 months it’s doubled in size.”

The car boot comes under the jurisdiction of Boston Borough Council and East Lindsey District Council who have both said that markets in the area are governed by Market Law stemming from the Middle Ages and they are unable to stop the growth of the market if it is more than 6 and 2/3 miles from a town market.

The distance was based on how far a person could walk to go to a market when there were no cars and traders had to travel on horses and carts to sell their wares.

However, these markets are still subject to Planning Law and a restriction in opening to 14 days per year.

A spokesman for ELDC said: “The district council is looking into this matter and whether a breach of planning is taking place at the site.

“If a breach of planning is identified following the investigation the council will identify any action required.”

The owner of Stickney Car Boot believes Boston’s Market may be more successful if the council took a leaf out of his book.

Eric Staples attributed his car boot’s success to the fact he offers cheap £4 pitches and free parking – however, he acknowledges his event has had a negative effect on surrounding markets.

He said: “That’s bad, I know that, but what can I do.

“I don’t want to stop it, it’s taken 20 years to get like this and all we’ve done is keep prices down and free parking.”

The car boot has more than doubled in size in the last year.

Mr Staples said he himself he had been put off from visiting the Boston’s town centre by parking prices when he parked on the Green for one hour and had to pay £1.60.

He said his low prices meant he got thousands of cars throughout the morning and often got up to 500 pitches at peak times and 120-30 at bad times.

On East Lindsey’s looking at whether he was breaking planning law, he said he believed he wasn’t doing anything wrong – adding Trading Standards had never found anything wrong.