A FURIOUS Mirfield councillor has thrown down the gauntlet to the Kirklees leader in the Tesco row.
Coun David Pinder (Con) challenged Mehboob Khan (Lab) to attend a mass protest rally in Mirfield today to explain comments the council leader made on the website Twitter.
Coun Pinder said it was ‘outrageous’ that Coun Khan said he hoped the application for a Tesco Express in Mirfield town centre would be approved.
The council leader said he was entitled to his opinion but had to decline going to the rally as he would be out of the area.
The proposal to turn the bottom floor of the Black Bull pub, in Huddersfield Road, into a Tesco Express store has sparked a massive outburst of opposition.
A protest meeting last week drew around 150 objectors and the rally is set for 10.30am today at Mirfield showground.
Coun Pinder said: “Coun Khan’s comments are wholly improper. It is outrageous. He does not live in Mirfield. But he can’t resist the chance to have a dig at an independently-minded town.
“He is leader of the council. It may well be a personal view, but he is also leader of the Labour party and of the cabinet. Labour has a track record of enforcing the party whip on decisions and have a built-in majority on the planning committee.
“He should come and explain why we should share his view.”
On Twitter, Coun Khan said: “It is a slur on small businesses to say they will close if a Tesco opens. No-one should be afraid of competition. There is a Tesco Express in my own ward and it is hugely popular. The people of Mirfield deserve the same level of choice.”
In a later statement he said: “Under current planning laws no change of use is required for this building. Tesco’s planning applications are for external alterations and the planning committee will reach its own independent conclusions on these.
“I’m entitled to my opinion, and I believe a Tesco Express in Mirfield would enhance choice for residents.
“Ultimately, people will vote with their purses and wallets, but similar stores elsewhere have created jobs and boosted the economic viability of their area.”