The Truth About Petrol Prices

PETROL prices are going through the roof and we are all feeling the pinch – car owners, hauliers and even garage owners. When you head to the petrol pump for £30-worth of fuel and your gauge doesn’t even hit the half-way line it’s time to tighten

PETROL prices are going through the roof and we are all feeling the pinch – car owners, hauliers and even garage owners. When you head to the petrol pump for £30-worth of fuel and your gauge doesn’t even hit the half-way line it’s time to tighten the belt elsewhere.

The Government doesn’t seem to be helping much either – fuel duty is set to rise by another 2p a litre in October, and as for the petrol companies – record profits last year, while simultaneously claiming that it’s the soaring price of crude oil forcing them to hike up the prices.

Siphoning off of fuel from tanks or vehicles - is on the rise, too, according to hauliers, and every week it seems there is an incident of bilking’ – filling up without paying - to add to the stack of CCTV footage coming out of petrol stations.

To help out the honest motorists among our readers, CATHERINE ATKINSON has scoured the district to find the cheapest petrol in the area and asks those hardest hit –hauliers and petrol stations - what the future has in store.

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NICK Brown, store manager at the BP Petrol Witchford Road, has had so many customers moaning about fuel prices that he put up The Truth About Petrol’ posters around the store, which show that only 8.88p goes to the retailer and 50.35p goes on fuel duty.

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“Out of that 8.8p we’ve got to pay for the fuel to be delivered here,” said Mr Brown, and the further you are away from the refinery the higher those costs are. We are in the front line – people complain to us, they know it’s not our fault, but who else can they complain to? Petrol and oil products are in everything, from plastic bags to carpets, and there is always going to be a cost getting them here, so we are finding that the price of everything is going up and trying hard not to pass excessive cost on to the customer.”

“By rights we should have put diesel prices up this week but we’re trying to hold off as long as we can,” he added.

The garage has many customers from haulage firms as they have a special HGV pump. One of those customers is Ray Bartrum, who owns private haulage company Bartrums in Littleport.

When the Ely Standard caught up with him in his haulage yard just off the A10, Mr Bartrum told us: “It’s testing times. Diesel has gone up from 50p a mile last year up to 68p to run a 44-ton lorry. It’s crazy prices.”

Mr Bartrum says he now spends £50,000 a month on fuel.

“If they [petrol stations] are going to put prices up, it would be easier if they just whacked 20p on just like that instead of doing it at one or two pence a week. You can try and put you own prices up and hope the customer goes along with you, but then with the way fuel costs are rising, you would have to keep putting your prices up every week, and if you don’t put your prices up then you find that you’ve gone over the overdraft you’ve got with the fuel company.” Foreign haulage outfits are taking advantage of the situation and undercutting their British counterparts, according to Mr Bartrum. “There is unfair competition from abroad. They’ve got lower fuel costs if you go across there, you can claim the VAT back but it takes too long to reclaim it. Dutch, Belgian and Polish firms work here all week at lower rates because they are on cheaper fuel. A lot of the time they are overloading the vehicle and running illegal loads. They are also exempt from the congestion charge because it only works on vehicles with a number plate in this country, so the foreign competition can get cheaper fuel and get into London for free.”

Another big concern for hauliers is siphoning off diesel from lorries. Some of Bartrums’ vehicles carry nearly £1,400-worth of fuel and have proved a ripe target for fuel theives in the past.

“Siphoning has been increasing steadily over the last year,” claims Mr Bartrum. “The police might tell you different but we’ve certainly had more problems - we’ve lost about 300 litres in the last month.”

Bartrums also produces energy crops for burning, which involves using agricultural vehicles. It’s on this side of the business that he has been hardest hit, as the price of red diesel has doubled since the summer, but Mr Bartrum did not encourage his employees to participate in the London fuel protests last Tuesday. “We can’t be seen to be participating – it goes against what our licences are for, and the all-powerful traffic commissioner who issues them wouldn’t be happy.”

Like the rest of us, hauliers are just going to have to sit tight and see how bad it gets – there are whisperings in Westminster that fuel price increases will be delayed beyond October this year. “At the end of the day, you’ve just got to go with the flow and hopefully come out the other side,” are the wise words of Ray Bartrum. We contacted LG Motor Company at Littleport to let them know they were the most expensive in the area. The manager said: “It’s like a lottery out there at the moment. It all depends on the order in which the petrol is delivered, and the price isn’t set until the day of delivery. Proteus, our supplier, is owned by Texaco, who have a supplier further away in this area. Other petrol companies may have a supplier closer, which would make the delivery cost cheaper.

He added: “We haven’t seen petrol sales drop off because people still need to travel. We had record sales this Saturday when Trikefest came to Littleport.”

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PETROL PRICES

The Ely Standard drove around the area last Friday and noted down the petrol prices of eight local outlets. Tesco in Ely and BP in Bluntisham were the cheapest we found at 129.9 for petrol. LG at Littleport was the most expensive at 134.9 for diesel. BP Bluntisham Petrol 117.9 Diesel 129.9 Jet Witcham Toll Petrol 117.9 Diesel 131.9 Jet A10 towards Littleport Petrol 117.9 Diesel 131.0 BP Witchford Road, Ely Petrol 117.9 Diesel 130.9 Esso Boreland’s Garage Petrol 117.9 Diesel 132.9 Tesco Ely Petrol 117.9 Diesel 129.9 Gulf Littleport Petrol 118.0 Diesel 132.0 LG Littleport Petrol 118.9 Diesel 134.9 -----------

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Let us know if you find really cheap petrol anywhere or if you find someone charging a lot more than the average price. It doesn’t matter where it is, so if you work outside of the area or fill up on the way to work in another county, make a note of the prices, and if possible take a photograph of the price board and send it to us. A bottle of champagne for the person who manages to find the cheapest petrol and the most expensive must have photographic evidence. Send details to the Ely Standard, 38 Market Street, Ely, Cambs, CB7 4LS or email: catherine.atkinson@archant.co.uk

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WHERE DOES YOUR MONEY GO?

Breakdown of the price of a litre of petrol:

5% Forecourt

32% Oil refinery costs

63% Taxation

SOURCE: petrolprices.com

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BILKING

(making off from petrol stations without payment)

Cambridgeshire figures, month by month:

December 105

January 115

February 124

March 134

April 94

May 103

No figures for siphoning off diesel were available from police at the time of going to press.

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EUROPEAN FUEL PRICES

Highest (in UK pence per litre)

Norway Unleaded 130.53 Diesel 131.95

Lowest

Latvia Unleaded 83.48 Diesel 89.14

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