Mobile shop could kill store - claim

PUBLISHED: 08:45 01 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:56 22 October 2010

A mobile shop which has parked permanently in a Broads village could kill off the local store, it has been claimed.

A mobile shop which has parked permanently in a Broads village could kill off the local store, it has been claimed.

A war of words has broken out in Hickling, whose residents face losing the store and a planned post office. Publican Darren Mayhew, who runs a shop next to his Pleasure Boat Inn, says the mobile shop's six-day-a-week stopover is unfair competition, as they have few overheads.

But Graham Edwards, who runs the mobile store in a converted library van, hit back saying the competition was healthy and Mr Mayhew should blame others - like the nearby Tesco store at Stalham - for dwindling trade.

The problem has come about because the parish council agreed to let the mobile shop use the local chapel car park as a base - daily except Sunday.

It refused to comment about the decision but Mr Mayhew is seeking to get it overturned at the next meeting on Monday.

Mr Mayhew said: "I've got one word for you - mobile. He stays six days a week in one place. That's permanent.

"Village stores are struggling. There used to be two in this village but they both closed. Competition is not healthy in small villages," he added.

And he said he would now not open a planned post office in his store as the mobile shop was also set to provide a parcel delivery service.

He said he felt betrayed by the council, which had pestered him to install the post office for over a year. After investing £13,000 in the shop, and getting the go-ahead for the post office, it was backing the new mobile venture, he said. "We are not going to put our necks on the line any more for this village. If that is the way the village feel, they are going to lose a shop."

The travelling store was originally intended to cover north-east Norfolk villages from West Somerton to Skeyton, stocking everything from newspapers, cigarettes, cards and stamps to fresh fruit and vegetables.

But Mr Edwards said after realising there was a demand for his mobile shop in his own village, he decided to stay. "Local people approached me to say stay, if I could find a place to stop. We have said we will stay for 12 months to feel our way into the business," he said. "I cannot convince myself that a village store is viable these days so we thought maybe a mobile store is the answer."

Another mobile shop was planned to go between the villages if the current venture was a success, he said.

North Norfolk District Council has ordered Mr Edwards to apply for retrospective "change-of-use" planning permission as the car park is now a site of business.

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