Soaring fuel cost is hitting Shropshire families

Drivers, businesses and farmers in Shropshire spoke with one voice today and demanded action on the ever-increasing cost of fuel.

Drivers, businesses and farmers in Shropshire spoke with one voice today and demanded action on the ever-increasing cost of fuel.

The call came after it was revealed that drivers buying diesel in rural filling stations are paying, on average, 4p more than those in big towns and cities.

And the cost of unleaded is also at a new high, with drivers in parts of the county paying more than £1.41p a litre.

Cars are becoming an ‘unaffordable necessity’ for many living in rural communities, said the Countryside Alliance.

The costliest diesel – at 146.9p a litre – was in Purbeck in Dorset and Ryedale in North Yorkshire. By contrast, diesel in Birmingham was 139.7p.

Overall, the alliance found that diesel in rural areas averaged 144p a litre, while in urban areas it was 140p.

Tim Jordan, business development executive for hauliers Edwards Transport, in Hinstock, near Market Drayton, said many haulage firms were at risk of becoming unprofitable if the price of fuel rose by as little as another 2p or 3p. He said: “We are doing okay as a company but it’s getting to a critical stage for some firms.”

Simon Thompson, distribution manager at Grocontinental, based at Whitchurch, said: “A 1p increase can increase our yearly costs by £100,000.”

Motorist Graham Sedgley said: “I spend £100 a week on diesel and it is a bind. I remember when it was less than 50p a litre.”

Mr Sedgley, principal of Peplow Recruitment Services in Market Drayton, said it had affected business too.

“It stops us spending money on things more worthwhile like advertising,” he said.

Rob Alderson, chairman of Shropshire’s National Farmers’ Union branch, said fuel duty was affecting both red diesel, the lower priced fuel used by the industry, and ordinary diesel used by farmers to get around.

He said: “The cost of fuel is putting pressure on the production and transport of food”

Peter Bettis, president of Shrewsbury Business Chamber, said higher rural fuel prices were hitting firms and customers.

Graham Jones, manager of Shrewsbury-based taxi firm Access Cars, said rising costs were hitting his drivers in the pocket. “Fuel is 6p per litre cheaper in Chester,” he said.

Within 10 miles of Oswestry unleaded ranges from 134.9p to 141.9p and drivers in the Welshpool postcode area are paying between 137.9p and 138.8p for unleaded.

Bus firm Arriva raised its prices earlier this year, partly as a result of higher fuel costs, but a spokesman said today: “There are no plans to increase our prices.”

Councillor Bill McClements, Telford & Wrekin cabinet member for resources and service delivery, said: “The council has a fleet of around 50 vehicles and we take every measure possible to run these as fuel efficiently as possible and whenever we replace any fleet we do so with vehicles with low fuel costs. We also buy fuel using a fuel card scheme for business which help us secure lower fuel prices.

“However, in due course these increases in petrol prices will come through and are another example of inflation that we must cope with at time when our funding is being cut at unprecedented levels by Government and demand for council services is growing.”

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