Newsagents who fear they will be "at the mercy of monopolies" if government does not intervene in the news and magazine supply chain have gathered the support of MPs in their call for a fairer deal for small stores.

More than 70 MPs have added their names to a petition delivered to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), demanding action over the monopolies that exist within the newspaper and magazine distribution industry.

David Heathcoat-Amory, Conservative MP for Wells, Somerset, met retailers in his constituency and promised to raise the subject in the Commons.

"Independent newsagents are under great pressure from rising costs and the danger of a monopoly developing in wholesale distribution," he said.

Philip Dunne, Conservative MP for Ludlow, Shropshire, also pledged his support to retailers. "Newsagents are concerned for the viability of their business, from the loss of competition over supplies of newspapers and concerns about a proposed ban on tobacco display," he said.

National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) national president Suleman Khonat said newsagents were asking for "the same right to choose between suppliers that has underpinned British business for decades".

He added: "If the OFT fails to afford us that right, thousands of newsagents will effectively be at the mercy of monopolies."

Dawson News, the beleaguered wholesaler which has lost several major contracts in the past few months, has been voted best for service by Association of News Retailing (ANR) members.

ANR managing director John Lennon said: "This shows that Dawson was delivering an excellent service. The decision by publishers to drop it leaves regional monopolies that strip retailers of choice."

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