Tesco deal is ‘set firm’

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THE writing looks to be on the wall in the Mirfield Tesco row.

Town councillor Martyn Bolt (Con) has been told directly that the supermarket chain is ‘contractually committed’ to the Black Bull site for its new Express store.

And his contact added that one potential alternative had been ruled out.

“So unless something new can be pulled out of the hat, that’s it,” said Coun Bolt.

He sent a text message to the Tesco contact during Tuesday’s town council meeting as members discussed an offer by Kirklees Council leader Mehboob Khan to help find Tesco another site for its new store.

“I felt it was pointless setting hares running on this if it was going to come to nothing,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, a response from Tesco said it was contractually linked to the Black Bull and that site research had ruled out using the former Swan pub site, raised as a possibility at a public meeting.

“So if Coun Khan is to help the people of Mirfield stop this store being opened, he needs to ask officials to examine every aspect of heritage and highways issues at the Black Bull site,” said Coun Bolt.

“There was no point in further discussion about relocation unless Tesco and the site owner have a wide working relationship. The supermarket chain could be held down on contract. And even if they did find another site, an alternative tenant would be found for the Black Bull.”

Tesco spokesman Deborah Hayeems said: “We have been very transparent in the fact that we now have a contract signed with the owners at the Black Bull to lease the ground floor for an Express store.

“Our site research team has assessed the site at the Swan but has concluded that it is not suitable for a Tesco Express.”

Tesco has also produced revised plans for ancillary aspects of the scheme, which does not need change of use planning permission.

Ms Hayeems said: “We’ve had detailed discussions with Kirklees officers on this and have made quite some changes to the scheme. I understand local councillors are also being consulted on this.”

Tesco’s plans have sparked a massive protest campaign in the town. Objectors fear a Tesco Express could trigger closure of independent shops.

More than 1,000 people turned up for a mass rally at which protest campaign leaders urged residents to pledge never to use the store if it is developed.