Car boot sale for Rowans Hospice is axed by Portsmouth City Council

Boot sales are always popular
Boot sales are always popular

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A CHARITY is missing out on thousands of pounds after a car boot sale was axed by Portsmouth City Council.

Billy Willett, 50, started running the sale on Southsea Common this year in aid of The Rowans Hospice.

He raised £4,000 over the summer but has been told he can no longer hold the Sunday morning event because another company has come forward and asked to take over the contract.

The council says it must now run a tendering process to find a preferred bidder to organise the sales.

Mr Willett, who lives in Portsea, said he was offered a reduced rent of £340 a week if he donated some money to The Rowans.

The council is now running the event and will do so until a decision has been made from the tendering process.

No money will be donated to The Rowans – or any other charity – while this happens, the authority has confirmed.

Mr Willett said: ‘I came up with the idea of running it for the hospice.’

He says the other company only became interested when the sale’s popularity took off.

‘After six weeks we weren’t making any money,’ he said.

‘After a while it was packed and that’s why people want to run it now.’

On the week the sale was due to move from the common to the D-Day Museum car park, he was informed he would no longer run the sale.

‘I was a bit overwhelmed,’ he said, adding he will now be applying to take part in the tender process.

The council’s seafront manager David Evans said: ‘The council arranged with Mr Willett to run a car boot sale on the grass to the east of Pier Road over the summer.

‘He was the only operator who approached us.

‘The council has now been approached by other operators who would like to run sales.

‘This means that to be fair, and to get the best result for residents, we have to go through a formal procurement exercise and select the most suitable operator.’

Karen Murphy, community fundraiser for The Rowans, said: ‘All we can say is he has supported us over the past and we are grateful for the money he has raised.’

Last year, more than 1,000 signatures were collected as part of a petition to bring back the weekly summer events which were previously held on the MoD’s Clarence Playing Fields at Long Curtain Road, Southsea.