CAMPAIGNERS have given up their fight against a new Tesco in Huddersfield.
Town First – a coalition of shopkeepers, residents and politicians – was set up three years ago to oppose the proposed supermarket at Southgate.
But secretary Chas Ball announced yesterday that the group would be wound up on Saturday.
Kirklees Council gave Tesco planning permission to build a huge new supermarket in February as part of a wider revamp of the town centre.
Mr Ball said yesterday: “We tried our best to raise the issues about Tesco but, now that the planning committee has made its decision, we feel it’s time to move on.
“We’ve done our job, we didn’t win but we did raise the issue.
“We mobilised some powerful arguments against the development at the planning committee, but councillors agreed to it on planning terms.
“I hope Kirklees has made the right decision but all over Britain there are people concerned about the extent to which big retailers are taking over and costing jobs.”
Kirklees will knock down Huddersfield Sports Centre and the Ibbotson and Lonsbrough flats to make way for the new store at Southgate.
The council will build a new sports centre at Spring Grove Car Park in Springwood.
And Tesco will demolish its existing town centre store on Viaduct Street, replacing it with a hotel, housing, shops and offices by 2016.
Town First was formed in 2008 by shopkeepers, politicians and residents who were concerned that a new Tesco would drain business from town centre shops.
But the group has given up after losing the battle to prevent planning permission.
Town First also opposed Asda’s plan to build a supermarket on part of the Broadbent’s site at Chapel Hill.
Mr Ball said members of the group would continue to fight that development, which is yet to win planning permission.
He said: “We strongly opposed the Asda development in the past and we certainly won’t ignore it in the future.”
Leading members of Town First included Tony Coletta, who owns Occasions on Market Avenue; Huddersfield Labour MP Barry Sheerman and Kirklees Green leader Clr Andrew Cooper.
The group is hosting a farewell party at the new Greenhead Park cafe from 7.15pm on Saturday.
Tickets costing £5 are available on the door.
Food will be provided by Barrington Douglas of Discovery Bay Caribbean restaurant on Wood Street. Guests are invited to bring their own drink.
Mr Ball said yesterday that members would now put their energy into supporting the town centre by backing Visit Huddersfield and the Independent Business Group.
“Town First was often characterised as anti-Tesco and negative,” he said.
“But we made a positive case that we have to make more of the town centre.
“We’re still interested in promoting and celebrating independent businesses in Huddersfield.”
For more information go to www.visithuddersfield.org.