MP steps in to help local village shop to bring home the news

Wendy Bancroft meets MP Robert Goodwill at Muir Lea Stores in Robin Hood's Bay''w140810
Wendy Bancroft meets MP Robert Goodwill at Muir Lea Stores in Robin Hood's Bay''w140810

Whitby’s MP has stepped in to resolve a dispute between a newspaper distributor and a couple trying to revive an ailing shop in Robin Hood’s Bay.

Robert Goodwill visited the shop this week which is now going from strength to strength.

Wendy and Chris Bancroft took over Muir Stores at the bottom of the village in November and have since given it a revamp and added to the range of products it sells.

One of which was the stocking of newspapers which is a key product for encouraging footfall through the door.

The firm, which distributes national newspapers to local retailers, has a policy whereby unless the shop sells at least £215 worth of papers per week. a charge of £100 would be made for supplying them.

And on some occasions only 12 national newspapers were being supplied each day and were often sold out before 9am.

But as the previous owners hadn’t stocked newspapers for seven years the Bancrofts couldn’t prove that they would sell and despite repeated calls and letters to the supplier they weren’t getting anywhere.

Mrs Bancroft said: “Because we are a new outlet people didn’t know we had papers and they would only send us 15 a day of all varieties.

“By the time it got to 9am we had totally sold out. People would just walk straight back out and go to the post office at the top of the hill and buy everything up there.

“The more we complained the less we seemed to get sent and because we aren’t classed as a rural area they could not take the charge away.”

So around new year, Mr Bancroft contacted his local MP and Mr Goodwill wrote to the firm’s managing director.

Since then the delivery charge has been wavered, although Wendy does have to travel to Fylingthorpe to collect the newspapers as they won’t bring them to the bottom of the village, and there is now around 50 paper sales during the week and up to 80 at weekends.

It has also helped with other sales as customers buying newspapers will often buy other items such as bread, milk and cigarettes.

She added: “It is hard as a new business anyway. The shop was quite run down when we took it on. It did not sell papers or cigarettes so we had to incorporate that but papers was the main issue.”

Mr Goodwill added: “It was a chicken and egg situation and totally ridiculous that they could not support a small business.

“They had no previous sales to base it on.

“I got in touch and it seemed to do the trick. I just said ‘play the game’ because selling papers brings people into the store.

“I go into shops where people complain they can’t make it work and you look around and think I am not surprised.

“But this place is well run, clean and if you are a convenience store you need to stock the things that people run out of .

“There is a balance between stock but papers is probably the main thing.

“One of the best things about being an MP is speaking for the little man and if you write to the boss of a company, by and large, something gets done but it is a shame that it has to come to that.”