Tesco fight is gathering pace

SAYING IT WITH FLOWERS: The 'Say no to Tesco' sign at Jane's Florist's. (d03081104)
SAYING IT WITH FLOWERS: The 'Say no to Tesco' sign at Jane's Florist's. (d03081104)

A CAMPAIGN to stop Tesco opening a store in Mirfield town centre is gathering pace.

Residents and traders are calling for action against the store giant’s plans to convert the Black Bull pub into a Tesco Express.

Shops are displaying protest signs, the town council is holding an emergency planning meeting and dozens of letters have been arriving at the Reporter office expressing dismay at the proposals.

Tesco want to turn the ground floor into a convenience food store. And Kirklees Council says no planning permission is needed as, technically, there is no change of use.

Anger erupted when the plans emerged. Most Mirfield people had thought the Black Bull was to re-open as a pub – thanks to a big sign on the building flagging this up.

Businessman Martin Ibberson said Mirfield needed a Tesco Express ‘like a hole in the head’.

And he immediately started making it possible for objections to be registered in various ways – including a website and a petition.

There is public consultation on the plans until August 15.

Coun David Pinder said Mirfield Town Council’s planning committee had not been due to meet until two days after the consultation ends – but it will now meet at 6.30pm on Tuesday at the council’s offices in Huddersfield Road.

He said: “The public are welcome to attend and they will have the opportunity to speak.”

Many shops have copies of the protest petition. Jane Peters, of Jane’s Florists, put a notice in her window to let people know they can register objections with her.

“The plan is bad for me because Tesco will sell flowers,” she said. “But my main concern is the road. How can that junction cope with all the lorries?”

The petition form at cards and gift shop Celebrations already has dozens of signatures.

Owner Robert Whitfield said: “Most customers can’t wait to sign it. We have enough supermarkets. This could be a real threat to many independent shops. The Black Bull site does need tidying up, but not like this. A restaurant would have been good.”

A Tesco spokesman said the Black Bull would be ‘sensitively’ converted and that it is hoped to have the store open by early 2012.

Kirklees said applications for minor works such as a cash machine had been submitted, with the application itself most likely being delegated to officers for a decision by September 6.