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Traders in Mirfield were left puzzled after car park warning signs were put up at lunchtime – only to disappear six hours later.

Bosses at the Tesco Express store erected three signs which cut parking time from two hours to just 20 minutes with the threat of a £70 fine.

The signs went up at the town centre supermarket on Wednesday lunchtime causing an outcry on social media.

Later that day the signs – one on top of a pole and the others fastened to privately-owned buildings – vanished.

Traders furious at the prospect of their customers being hit by fines called in Mirfield town councillors.

Clr David Pinder said the signs disappeared as suddenly as they had appeared.

Witnesses reported that contractors put the signs up – but that two women looking “semi-official” turned up in a car at 7.30pm and removed the signs with a cordless drill.

Clr Pinder said: “It was all very puzzling. There was a big outcry as soon as the signs went up but no one knew if the signs had been taken down by Tesco or by Mirfield freedom fighters.”

Mirfield people are not unknown for their direct action but Tesco confirmed they had removed the signs.

The Tesco parking spaces are either side of an unadopted road, Princess Street, and customer parking was allowed for two hours.

The store wanted to cut that to 20 minutes with CCTV cameras recording vehicles coming in and out from Huddersfield Road.

But the street also provides access to other businesses and a house which have their own parking spaces and traders feared innocent vehicles could end up with parking tickets in the post.

Dave Sowerby, who runs Sowerby Bros cycles in Princess Street, has five parking spaces and said: “We could have ended up with fines for parking in our own spaces.”

Another trader, butcher Chris Ramsden, said he didn’t want his customers fined and added: “We want to be good neighbours with Tesco but they are too big and think they can do what they like.”

The Tesco store opened two years ago in the former Black Bull pub. Residents fought against it but planning law meant change of use wasn’t needed to turn pubs into supermarkets.

Tesco Express and the car park on Princess Street, Mirfield where Tesco had placed parking restriction signs, since removed. (left to rigjht) Mirfield town councillors, Andrew White, David Pinder and James Taylor (right) with local trader, Gavin Fisher at the Tesco Express site in Mirfield.
 

Tesco has now backed down over the change and spokesman Mark Thomas said: “The feedback we have received since the signs went up is that a 20-minute limit is too short, so we have decided to revert to our previous limit. Our only interest is in doing the right thing for our customers and the local community.

“We want to strike the right balance between ensuring customers can find spaces when they need them and ensuring people have enough to time to do their shopping.

“We’re also conscious that customers accessing other local businesses do so via our car park and we want to reassure people that they will not be subject to our parking restrictions when visiting these businesses.”

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