Leader changes Mirfield Tesco tune

Issue 489

COUNCIL leader Mehboob Khan has performed a partial uturn on supporting Tesco’s proposed Mirfield store.
The Kirklees Labour chief still backs the idea of having a Tesco in principle – but now wants it be moved away from the Black Bull pub.
It follows the storm of criticism Coun Khan faced for posting favourable comments about the scheme on the social networking website Twitter.
Tesco do not need permission for a change of use to redevelop the pub, which dates back to 1755, but have vowed to keep most period features.
A protest march on Saturday attracted more than a thousand residents and traders opposed to Tesco taking over the historic pub.
Mirfieldborn Hollywood actor Sir Patrick Stewart also opposes the plan – his dad Alfred was a Black Bull regular.
Coun Khan, realising the scale of opposition, said: “My personal view is that a Tesco Express has the potential to boost Mirfield’s local economy.
“But I am supporting the local community’s views in my capacity as council leader.
“I will be writing to Tesco asking them to consider other locations for their store.
“Nobody can prevent Tesco opening at the Black Bull, but if a more suitable site can be found it needs to be explored.
“Wherever possible we would advocate a site which provides offstreet parking and involves the minimum possible road safety risks.
“I am happy to work with the town council on the issue of the store’s location. It is important that elected representatives work together to benefit their communities.”
Mayor of Mirfield Pat Sutcliffe said at the rally: “Tesco wants people to have choice.
“But where’s our choice? There’s been no public consultation.
“As a town we don’t want a Tesco in that location. I’m not against having a Tesco here somewhere, but not in that location.”
Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield) has launched a petition on the Downing Street website to close the planning loophole that Tesco are exploiting.
He said: “The parking and access is not good enough for a supermarket. Also the delivery traffic through that junction is difficult as it is.  
“I’m not against Tesco in principle. But the location is wrong and I’m not sure they are a good fit for Mirfield.
“We’re a fairtrade town and Tesco don’t do much of that.”
On Coun Khan's partial uturn he added: "I cautiously welcome Mehboob's acceptance of Mirfield people's common sense.
"They are fine words, but before anyone gets too excited, let's wait to see what action he takes.
"Don't forget this is the same Coun Khan that told REACH campaigners to carry on fighting to save Castle Hall, but then voted to close the school.
"It is also the same Coun Khan that used substitutions on the planning committee to get the Mirfield Moor scheme approved."
The area’s MP, Simon Reevell, is due to have a meeting with Tesco executives in London in a fortnight to discuss their intentions.
Tesco can begin making interior changes to the pub but will need permission from Kirklees Council for a new frontage and signs.
A spokesman for the retail giant said: “Our experience elsewhere is that businesses close by benefit from the additional footfall our Express stores bring.”

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