SUNDAY car boot fans in Dorchester will have to pay the new all-week car parking fees when the event resumes this weekend.

For the last decade those attending the popular car boot sales, which raise tens of thousands of pounds for local charities each year, have been able to park for free.

From this weekend it will cost most £4 – four times the minimum charge for Wednesday parking when the commercial stall market is held.

Dorset Council introduced the new fees from April 1 which has resulted in car parking charges every day of the week, not only at the Fairfield, Dorchester, but at other car parks it also operates.

Locals had been hoped that the council would allow free parking to continue for buyers because of the charity aspect of the sales but Dorset Council says that it wanted to see the same charging system apply across the county – and needs the money to help pay for essential services.

Because only limited short stay space is available on the Dorchester market site, most of it taken up by stalls, it will result in most people who attend car boot sales now having to pay the minimum £4, risk traffic wardens fines, or park in nearby residential streets, many of which are limited to an hour.

Fees for the Wednesday commercial stall market, on the same site, are £1 for up to two hours, £2 for up to three hours, or £4 for four.

Town councillors argue that the new Sunday fees will deter many people from attending – resulting in a cut in charity pay outs at the end of the year and possibly the demise of car boot sales.

Joint markets panel chair Cllr Molly Rennie said Dorset Council was adamant that all parking fees across the county should be the same basis which has resulted in charging for Sunday parking in many places for the first time.

“I put in an objection, but it was going nowhere,” she said.

Town council Planning and environment chairman Cllr Robin Potter said the new Sunday charge is also unpopular with church-goers.

Dorchester town clerk Adrian Stuart says he understands this weekend’s Sunday car boot will be going ahead. The numbers likely to attend will only be known on the day as sellers have no need to book in advance.

A small number of car boot sales were held during the year, when restrictions allowed, with the estimated loss of income put at £7,000 over the whole year.

“In other words we will have around £7,000 less to distribute to good causes the next time the car boot panel meets,” said Mr Stuart.

The parking arrangements have been run by Dorset Council since reorganisation.

Said Paul Hutton, Dorset Council Manager for Parking Services: "The new Sunday parking charges came into effect from 1 April and  anyone visiting or parking in the Fairfield car park (other than stall holders) should expect to pay the new charges."