MP calls on supermarket to 'do the right thing' as campaign to save village's only newsagent heats up
An MP has called for a supermarket to withdraw an application to sell newspapers just yards away from a village's last remaining newsagent.
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson made the call after Barrowford Parish Council voted unanimously to oppose an application by Booths supermarket to Pendle Council to overturn a planning condition, imposed on the store when it opened three years ago, banning it from selling newspapers and magazines.
The condition was put in place to protect local businesses, including Park News newsagents which is directly across Gisburn Road from Booths.
Mr Stephenson said: “If this application is granted it would have a minimal impact on Booths, financially, but it would have a catastrophic effect on Park News.
“I know that Booths prides itself on supporting the community and other businesses, so for it to prove that ethos I believe they should do the right thing and withdraw this application.”
But Booths has refused to back down and a statement on behalf of the company said it had received a request from customers to stock newspapers and it was the company’s “duty” to respond to these.
The spokesman said: “Our customers have told us that they would like us to stock newspapers, particularly throughout the weekend.
“We are responding to these requests as a retailer serving the local community. To that effect we have sought changes to planning restrictions with a view to meeting this customer need.
“Booths remain committed to offering great products and service to support the community of Barrowford and will continue to work with local businesses to find a mutually agreeable solution.”
A campaign opposing the application was launched just before Christmas, when the announcement was made, by Julie MacAdam and her partner Chris Riley, who own Park News.
They bought the newsagents three years ago and last year took on the post office when it was closed down in Barrowford.
They are arguing that if Booths is allowed to sell newspapers it will be the deathknell for their business.
Julie said: "This is a major battle for us and the strength of support we have received proves how valued the shop is. We went to the parish council meetijng and there were around 40 people there backing us.
"As we run the post office from here also that is one of the main places for people to pay their bills and do their banking."
A petition against the application started at the shop gathered a staggering 1,671 signatures in just four weeks, from customers and also other shops and businesses in the village.
Now the couple are hoping that supporters will turn out again in support of them when the matter is decided at a meeting of the Barrowford and Western Parishes Area Committee on Thursday, February 8th, at Holmefield House, Gisburn Road, Barrowford, at 7pm.
Anyone who wishes to speak at the meeting needs to make their request in writing or by phone by noon on the day of the meeting.
The number is 01282 661654 and letters should be sent to Holmefield House.