KIRKLEES Council’s leader has stepped into the row about a proposed new Tesco.
The retail giant wants to set up a store at the site of The Black Bull in Mirfield.
More than 1,000 residents and traders marched through the town earlier this month to protest against the plan to establish a Tesco Express in the building, which dates back to 1755.
Campaigners fear a new supermarket at the Huddersfield Road site would lead to traffic problems and damage other businesses in Mirfield.
And now Kirklees leader Clr Mehboob Khan has written to Tesco opposing the plan.
He wrote: “Many people, including myself, are of the opinion that a store at this location would be totally inappropriate.
“The site is at an extremely busy road junction where traffic lights operate. Accessing any store and parking there would cause utter chaos as there is no right turn by The Black Bull, driving through Mirfield towards Huddersfield.
“Residents are very loyal and supportive of local businesses. There is already a Co-op store and a Lidl store which are well patronised and serve the needs of local people. Siting a Tesco store so closely would have quite a negative impact on those stores.”
The Greenhead Labour man asked the company to consider two alternative sites in the town – The Swan on Huddersfield Road and The Wasps’ Nest on Nab Lane.
Clr Khan wrote: “The Swan site has a larger car park and a much better situation, without the ensuing traffic problems that would be experienced in the centre of Mirfield.
“Additionally, there is the vacant site at The Wasps’ Nest pub on Nab Lane, which might prove a suitable alternative.”
But Mirfield Conservative Clr Martyn Bolt yesterday criticised Clr Khan for getting involved in the dispute.
“I think it’s unhelpful for the leader of the council to interfere in a ward issue,” he said.
“Clr Khan should have spoken to the local councillors to find out what was happening and what help was needed.”
Clr Bolt added that the alternative sites suggested in Clr Khan’s letter both had flaws.
“The Swan was mentioned by a member of the public early on and Tesco rejected it,” he said.
“There are local shops like the Co-op and the butcher’s near The Wasps’ Nest and it’s a highly residential area where parked cars could cause problems.”
But Clr Khan rejected Clr Bolt’s criticism.
He said: “The Mayor of Mirfield Town Council Patricia Sutcliffe sent me an email asking me to write to Tesco.
“I wrote to Tesco saying local people don’t want this site developed and they had suggested alternatives.”
Clr Khan last night denied his letter to Tesco showed he was interested in contesting the new Mirfield seat at the next general election.
The Boundary Commission for England announced its plan to reorganise constituencies last month.
The proposal involves creating a new seat which includes Kirkburton, Mirfield, Liversedge, Gomersal, Heckmondwike, Dewsbury West and Batley West.
Clr Khan said: “I’m not interested in the new Mirfield seat.
“If these deplorable boundary changes go ahead I will give my 110% backing to Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood who will take the seat at the 2015 election.”
But Clr Khan didn’t rule out running for the Huddersfield Parliamentary seat.
“When the time is right, I would consider it a great privilege to serve the people of Huddersfield in whatever capacity they wanted – either as leader of the council or as their MP,” he said.
“I think Barry Sheerman does a fantastic job as MP and we’re a very strong team – me in the town hall and him in Westminster.”
Meanwhile, Clr Bolt ruled out attempting to become the Conservative candidate for the new Mirfield seat.
He said: “I’ve just been reselected as the Conservative candidate for Mirfield at next year’s Kirklees election and I’m happy as a councillor.”