Petrol hits £5 a gallon in East Anglia

MOTORISTS in Suffolk and Essex are being hit by record breaking fuel prices - with the cost of a gallon of unleaded petrol increasing by more than 80p in just a year.

Mark Lord

MOTORISTS in Suffolk and Essex are being hit by record breaking fuel prices - with the cost of a gallon of unleaded petrol increasing by more than 80p in just a year.

Some forecourts in the region are currently selling unleaded petrol at £5 a gallon with London the only area in the country with higher fuel costs than East Anglia.

The average price for a gallon of unleaded petrol is £4.80 with diesel at £5. This time last year the cost of a gallon of unleaded petrol was £3.94 and £4.13 for diesel.

Wil Gibson, chief executive of Suffolk ACRE, said: “High petrol prices have an impact on those on low incomes in rural area as they are reliant on their cars.

“We did some research which shows that about 52% of people travel 10km to work but they are also travelling to access services and recreation so they are very dependant on cars.

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“It is not easy to find a solution. The only thing that I would suggest is to introduce road pricing so motorists pay for what they use or pay reduced rate for rural roads so it is reflecting the time that it takes and the convenience,”

Customers at the petrol station and garage Samkin of Saxmundham Ltd are paying almost £5 for a gallon of unleaded.

A spokesman said: “We cannot buy in the same bulk as larger retailers and thus we pay more for our loads. Obviously we have to make a profit, which at the moment is only three pence a litre, but unlike the supermarket chains, which can cut prices and make it back on other goods, we cannot do that.”

Other high prices are reflected across the region with the Bury Road Filling Station in Kentford and BP in The Haberden, Bury St Edmunds, both charging £4.95 per gallon of unleaded fuel.

At Pump Hill Garage in St Osyth, Essex, the price for a gallon of unleaded petrol was £5.13 and £5.31 for diesel.

At Vale Garage Ltd in Straford St Mary customers can expect to pay £1.06 a litre for unleaded (£4.81 a gallon) and £1.15 a litre for diesel (£5.22 a gallon).

Owner Peter Debenham said: “The garage took delivery of 10,000 litres yesterday, which will last about 10 days, and will make £300 on that amount.

“Nobody complains about the prices, we have been here for 50 years. The only saving grace for us is that we are the only garage in the village supplying petrol so we don't have to pay business rates thanks to a council scheme to encourage local employment.”

Motorists in East Anglia are feeling the pinch from the prices.

Becky Cranham, a 22-year-old student from Saxmundham, said: “I can't really afford to run my car but I have to travel to Ipswich five days a week, so I pay for my petrol with my student loan.”

Ray Holloway, director of the Petrol Retailers Association, said rural forecourts are forced to charge more for fuel for a number of reasons.

“The scale of the business is often small,” he said. “They sell less litres than urban forecourts but staffing and other costs remain the same. If they sell less litres they have to cover costs from a lower income, so their margin per litre has to be higher.”

Tim Shallcross, from the IAM Motoring Trust, said the high prices are due to rising oil costs and uncertainty in the finance markets, with more people investing in ground materials such as gold and oil.

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