Pain at the pumps

FUEL prices soared to a staggering high this week as a consequence of the new 20 per cent VAT rate, leaving rural Galloway motorists forced to dig deep in their pockets.

Some forecourts were asking for £1.28 for a litre of unleaded and £1.34 diesel - the highest figure since the credit crunch hit.

And motorists in rural areas such as Dumfries and Galloway have no option but to fork out if they want to keep on the move.

Filling up his tank at a Newton Stewart garage on Monday evening, shortly before the new rate kicked in, Martin Fraser, from Stranraer, said he would use buses if the service allowed him to.

He said: “I start work at 6am and 35 miles from my home outside Stranraer, so how else can I get to work in the mornings?

“We are hit hardest here, we have to fill up and pay the price or else we can’t work. There should be some way of determining who does and who doesn’t have priority and keep the fuel price down for those people who cannot car pool or take the bus, like they can in more populated areas with better public transportation.

“We have no trains or reliable, regular bus service. We’re being highly victimised for living rurally.

“My whole company is made up of people who have to travel far and start early. It’s outrageous that we have to pay this as well as 20 per cent more on top of everything else. I don’t know how we’re expected to cope.”

Prime Minister David Cameron is said to be reconsidering a fuel stabiliser policy, which had been shelved as part of the coalition agreement last summer.

But, with crude oil edging towards $100 a barrel, he said: “I’m working together with the Treasury on this – is there a way in which when the oil price goes up, if the Treasury is getting more revenue out of that oil, can we find a way of sharing that risk to the consumer.

“If the price goes up the tax comes down and if the price goes down the tax goes up?

“I would love to find some way of sharing the risk of higher fuel prices with the consumer rather than at the moment they feel they are bearing the burden. We are looking at this because I do want to help people.”

l Business fears: Page 9

l Comment: Page 10