Soaring petrol prices no joke

IT MIGHT be April Fools’ but the 1p rise on a litre at the pumps - which came in at midnight - is far from funny for Suffolk’s retailers.

Business chiefs fear the continuing fuel duty increases will drive people out of the countryside, with a ripple effect impacting on a whole range of the county’s services.

One independent petrol retailer will protest at the unfortunate timing of the increase, laid out in Alistair Darling’s Budget as part of a 3p staggered rise, by dropping his prices by 1p a litre for today only.

Chris Woodruff, owner of Darsham Service Station on the A12, owned by the family since 1973, said: “There is never going to be a good time to be honest, but the fact it is April Fools’ Day - it is not a laughing matter.”

He added the situation with fuel prices is getting so dire his workers are asking him for a fuel allowance instead of a pay increase, while other rural garages are seeing single parents drop in to buy tiny amounts to make their money last a bit longer.

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The average price for a litre of unleaded petrol in the UK on Tuesday - the latest available data - was 117.9p, with the maximum being recorded at 128.0p and the cheapest 113.9p, according to But in Suffolk the average was 118.1p, the maximum 120.9p and the lowest 114.9p - showing how the county’s drivers are feeling the brunt of the increases.

Pete Butler, the Suffolk area manager of the Road Haulage Association, said of the rises: “It will have a vast, vast impact - we have been campaigning to stop this rise.

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“At the end of the day they (companies) will have to pay more to get goods to the shops and me and you will have to pay more for the goods. 96% of everything we use in this country moves by road - there is not the capacity on rail.”

He added the axing of the biofuel allowance, coming at the same time as the staggered rise, meant the net effect to hauliers was a 2p a litre rise.

Howard Watts, owner of Riddelsdell Bros garage in Boxford, the oldest in Europe dating back to 1900, said: “The petrol prices to me went up 3p a litre last week (from his supplier) and it is so unfair.

“The other problem is I have about 70 fuel account customers and small businesses - it effects all of them as well as the public.”

He added: “The whole thing escalates and the fuel companies and the Government are getting greedy - it is all about greed. The crude price is (roughly) the same and this is my beef with them, it is ‘rip-off UK’.”

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