Newsagents' fresh appeal for villagers to back campaign to save their shop

A newsagent has renewed her appeal for villagers to sign a petition against allowing a supermarket to sell newspapers just yards away from her shop.

Friday, 29th December 2017, 12:00 pm
Staff and customers at Park News, Barrowford, with the petition against the application by Booths supermarket.

Julie Mac Adam made the plea as there are just five days left until the deadline expires for people to protest against the application by Booths supermarket to overturn a planning condition, imposed on the store when it opened three years ago, banning the business from selling newspapers and magazines.

The deadline for people to make their views known is Wednesday, January 3rd.

When Julie, who owns and runs Park News in Gisburn Road, Barrowford, received a letter informing her about the application she launched a petition which gained an incredible 900 signatures in less than six days.

The planning condition was imposed before the store was built to try and protect local businesses.

But Julie says if the supermarket chain is allowed to sell papers it will spell the end for the shop, the only newsagents in the village, which she owns and runs with her partner, Chris Riley.

Julie said: "This situation isn't just about the sale of newspapers and magazines.

"It's about the principle of the original agreement that was agreed and part of the planning permission.

"It's about the knock on effect for Park News which then has a knock on effect for Barrowford Post Office contained within the shop.

"There has been plenty of press recently about the banks closing and cash machines being taken away.

"But you can now do the majority of your banking through the Post Office and draw cash as if you taking it from a cash machine.

"This issue is about the community the village of Barrowford which we are an important part of it."

The campaign is being supported by Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson who said he is "totally opposed" to the application.

He said: "Considering how hard we fought to keep the post office I am strongly opposed to this application and, although I have no say over planning matters, I have made my views known to all Barrowford councillors.

"If this is allowed to go ahead it will have a detrimental effect on the community."

The less than festive news has left staff and customers "totally shell shocked and devastated" Julie said.

She said: "To say it has put a dampener on Christmas is a polite way to put it and I would appeal to everyone to sign the petition against it."

Established in the village for 80 years, Julie and Chris only bought Park News two years ago. The couple, who have two children aged 13 and 11, wanted to run their own business in the village where they are both from.

They injected new life into the shop, working 13 hour days, starting at 5am and running a newspaper delivery service to all the outlying areas surrounding Barrowford.

When plans were announced that Barrowford Post Office would be closed down the couple successfully applied to take it on within the shop in June last year.

Julie said: "It was an extremely rigorous process we had to go through but we knew that it was a much valued and needed service in the village.

"The Post Office said the response they received in support of us taking it over was unprecedented so it proves this is a service that is needed.

"We took on two extra members of staff to run the counter and we only receive payment for the transactions."

Julie, who runs the shop with a team of seven staff, said they would never have taken on the business if they had known that Booth's could challenge the restriction on the supermarket to sell newspapers.

She said that since Booth's opened in December, 2014, three businesses in the village, including a greengrocer's, delicatessen and coffee shop had closed their doors.

Julie is also angry that the application to lift the restriction has been made over the festive period, when shops and businesses are winding down and many people may be away.

Julie added: "When Booth's applied to open in Barrowford one of the conditions of the approval for planning permission was that they would not be allowed to sell newspapers and magazines.

"What is the point of having these conditions if they can just challenge them?"

A spokesman for Booth's said: "I’d like to stress that Booth's are more than happy to discuss the matter with any local retailers to see if they can find a mutually agreeable solution.

"Booth's is an independent retailer operating in a highly competitive grocery market. We respect local retailers in Barrowford, but wish to offer our customers great service and choice."

"Our research and a wealth of feedback from our customers indicate that they would like Booths to stock newspapers, particularly throughout the weekend.

"We are mindful that other retailers are not open throughout the weekend and wish to offer customers the convenient opportunity to pick up a newspaper with their shopping.

"Booths respect and work alongside local communities, sourcing from local suppliers where possible and offering great service and value to our customers.

"Booths would be happy to explore options with other retailers in Barrowford to find a mutually agreeable solution to this matter."

The first stage for the application is to be considered at a meeting of the Barrowford and Western Parishes committee on either Thursday, January 11th or February 8th.

The petition can be signed at the shop or on facebook on the Barrowford Now and Then page or email the planning department at [email protected]

Or you can write to the planning department at 1, Market street, Nelson, quoting the reference number 17/0714/VAR.