A three-day Christmas market is being planned for Dorchester this year.

To be held in the Borough Gardens and sponsored by the town council the event will raise money for Weldmar and Dorset Food and Drink.

Councillors voted this week to put in £6,000 to help the first event get up and running – but is unlikely to repeat the gesture in future years.

A debate took place about whether a small admission charge should be made but the idea was voted down.

The event will take place from 2pm on Friday December 6th; from noon to 9pm on Saturday 7th and 11am to 4pm on Sunday 8th to co-incide with the annual Weldmar Santa Run.

Bands, workshops, lights and carols will all feature with an estimated 100 stalls for arts and craft traders, food and drink and amusements.

It is believed to be the first time the town will host a Christmas market event over a three-day period and is expected to marketed across the county and beyond.

Deputy town clerk says the gardens will have a light display around the children's play area with some lighting further down the gardens as well. In a report he warns that the obvious risk is the weather but says: “a high quality market in a suitably dressed Borough Gardens has the potential to be a major success, both for operators, traders, visitors and the wider town centre business community.”

Most councillors at this week's town council management committee were against the idea of any charge for admission being made, something which several claimed had never been done before in the Borough Gardens.

“I don't think we can charge. It should be open to everybody,” said Cllr Stella Jones.

Cllr Molly Rennie suggested asking for the Friday and Saturday to be free parking days at council-owned car parks in the town, asking people for a donation in lieu of the parking fee they would otherwise have paid as a way to offset costs.

Cllr Tim Harries was also against any charge: “It would be a retrograde step,” he said, “Goodwill will go straight out of the window if there's a charge to get into the Borough Gardens.”