SOARING fuel prices are causing haulage companies in East Anglia to go out of business with the loss of many jobs, it has been warned.The Road Hauliers' Association (RHA) painted a bleak picture of life on the road in the face of ever-increasing fuel prices – and it warned that customers would end up paying more for goods such as food and clothes.
By Richard Smith
SOARING fuel prices are causing haulage companies in East Anglia to go out of business with the loss of many jobs, it has been warned.
The Road Hauliers' Association (RHA) painted a bleak picture of life on the road in the face of ever-increasing fuel prices - and it warned that customers would end up paying more for goods such as food and clothes.
Hard-pressed motorists are also feeling the strain as the cost of unleaded petrol also continues to rocket with one garage near Ipswich charging nearly 107p a litre.
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Now, a full-scale blockade of all the refineries in the UK is poised to start next Wednesday and it is expected this will spark panic buying and fuel shortages.
Peter Butler, senior area manager for the southern and eastern region of the RHA, said: "There are a number of companies in Suffolk who have or are about to go out of business.
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"They are finding it so tough that they are saying 'that is it'.
"When a haulier folds then somebody else has to fill the gap and they will renegotiate the contract - they will not want to do it on the same price as that person did.
"The rates go up, then the retailers will have to put up their prices and customers pay more for goods in the shops. People do not seem to realise that there is a vicious circle."
He added: "The Road Hauliers' Association will support the blockades as long as it is done legally because the fuel rises are crippling the industry.
"If say the price of crude oil is 60 dollars a barrel wherever you are in the world and say in Thailand it is 29p a litre, then why are the prices so high here? They are the highest they have been.
"The cost of fuel for a haulier used to be between 20 and 25% of his outgoings, now it is 55 to 60%.
"For a company that runs 29 trucks, a rise of 2p per litre puts on £1,840 a month to the costs. This is £63.44 more for each truck every month.
"From March until the end of August, diesel went up 7p a litre and the highest price charged is 106p a litre."
In Martlesham, near Ipswich, Spencer's garage is charging 106.9p a litre for unleaded and 102.9p a litre for diesel.
But according to forecourt assistant Karen Hammond, motorists are still prepared to pay the prices.
"We have regular customers who come in because they like the personal service we provide and we do everything for them," she said.
"People do not stop using their cars because of the cost of petrol. They want to travel and they like the convenience of their own vehicle.
"We had to put up the price because the price that we are charged rose and there is no more profit in it for us."
The garage lacks the technology to display the cost now that fuel has gone through the £1 barrier and staff have to use a piece of tape to produce the figure one.
The £1 barrier was passed some time ago by garages in the Western Isles of Scotland - but high-rolling motorists around Sloane Square in London have to fork out 119p a litre.
Catalist, the price monitoring organisation, found seven stations charging 102.9p for unleaded petrol on Sunday.