The popular car boot sale at Ballymena’s Saturday Market looks destined for a new home next year after well over a decade of trade at its current location.
Ballymena Borough Council has, since May 2000, had use of the former High School tennis courts for ‘booters’ which are adjacent to the Seven Towers Leisure Centre car park where the market itself is held.
The use has been facilitated under a licence agreement with owners, the North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) which, in May, gave Council formal notice that the licence would expiry in October 2014 and that it would not be renewed as the land was required for development as part of the new Castle Tower School project.
However, at a Council committee meeting, last week, members were given notice of a temporary reprieve with the news from the NEELB that the site is not required as early as previously thought and it could be used until December after which it could be used on a month-to-month basis.
Bringing details to the meeting, Council officer Bernie Candlish said if the current arrangement could be continued, even on a short term basis, it would benefit the market, particularly over the busy Christmas period.
She said Council officers were looking at options to relocate the car boot sale within the Market/Leisure Centre area while still trying to create a distinction between the two areas.
Members were told that the small car park at the rear of the Centre was “the preferred option” with Ms Candlish explaining that it is an easy area to close off while being still accessible to pedestrians.
She added that Market traders are aware of the situation and will be kept updated.
“This short term extension for use of the Board site will be welcomed by market traders and car boot users and will be seen in a positive light,” said Ms Candlish who said that long term proposals for the car boot area will be brought back to the Community Planning & Wellbeing Committee.
In the meantime members agreed to extend the licence agreement as outlined by the Board.