GAINSBOROUGH MP Edward Leigh has thrown his support behind calls for the Government to cut fuel duty and vowed to raise the issue in Parliament on behalf of YOU, his constituents.
The Conservative politician has blasted what he calls a ‘vicious’ form of taxation, after Chancellor George Osborne failed to protect the pennies of motorists in last month’s budget.
“Clearly people in rural areas and small industrial market towns like Gainsborough suffer more than they do in big cities,” said Mr Leigh.
“Wages are lower and the cost of getting around is rising all the time, yet they are heavily reliant on using a car.”
“I have raised the issue of fuel duty before and I will continue to raise it once Parliament returns on 16th April.”
Fuel prices across the UK have rocketed in recent years with forecourts charging an all-time high.
A year ago the Standard reported growing anger that Gainsborough motorists were paying on average 3p more per litre of fuel than in nearby towns.
Back then a litre of unleaded petrol cost £1.31.9 and diesel was £1.36.9.
Now it is around 10p higher, with prices in Gainsborough reaching £1.41.9 per litre for unleaded and £1.48.9 for diesel.
The price gap between Gainsborough and its closest towns Retford and Scunthorpe has narrowed to around 1p.
But for the cheapest fuel, motorists might be better off filling up 20 miles away in Lincoln where prices are as low as £1.36.9.
Instead of cutting fuel duty, George Osborne decided to delay an increase until August when it will rise by 3p a litre.
Edward Leigh said: “It is a particularly vicious form of taxation.”
“Of course I would have liked to have seen it cut. But the reason for these ridiculously high levels of fuel duty is the country is near bankruptcy.”
“We are in a desperately dangerous situation and there is no other way out of the black hole we are in.”
The MP encouraged his constituents to write to him with their experiences and opinions.
Coun Chris Underwood-Frost said it was about time someone stood up for the people of Gainsborough.
“We know there is a problem with the national debt but the solution is to stimulate the economy, not literally force people out of their cars,” he said.
“The rural economy is just as vital as any other industry in any other city.”
“My plea is for everyone to write to their MP, who we trust to represent the views of the rural community.”
As the Standard went to press this week, tanker drivers’ union Unite was still in talks over potential strike action over pay and working conditions.
Industrial action must be taken by 23rd April to maintain its strike mandate, which, after the legal seven day notice period creates a deadline of 16th April for naming walkout dates.
Drivers at five of the seven major fuel distributors voted in favour of strike action.
Unite’s fuel tanker drivers supply petrol to 90 per cent of UK forecourts.
This week, Gainsborough’s petrol retailers moved to reassure the public, as the threat of strike action still loomed.
Tesco and Murco filling stations both use drivers from haulage company Norbert Dentressangle, who voted in favour of a strike.
Morrisons, on the other hand, uses DHL drivers who voted for action short of a strike. But the company said drivers were unlikely to cross a picket line.
“Fuel retailers could all potentially be affected by a strike, although we would be one of the less affected companies,” said a Morrisons spokesman.
“There is a lot of fuel in this country and while demand might go up, it is about replenishing.”
“If the public does panic buy like two weeks ago we are in a good position and are well prepared.”
A spokesman for Murco, which has filling stations on Lead Road and Bridge Road in Gainsborough, said fuel would not run out but a shortage of hauliers may slow replenishment.
Tesco said it would continue to monitor the situation and put in place ‘sensible contingency plans’ for the next few weeks.