4th September 2011
Last week, soaring fuel costs were being blamed for the demise of Exeter-based Hookways, which is expected to go into liquidation later this month.
Companies across a range of sectors from retail, haulage and removals say the ever-rising cost of fuel is tightening their margins and removals business Britannia Lanes, which operates four depots in Truro, Exeter, Bridgwater and Bristol, has recently signed a Fair Fuel petition, which calls on the Government to help businesses, especially those in the road freight industry.
The petition has four aims – to scrap the planned 4p fuel duty increases, encourage price stabilisation, to put pressure oil companies to pass on cheaper oil to motorists and to cut fuel taxes in the long term.
Quentin Willson, leader of the FairFuelUK campaign, says: “The wheels of the economy are literally grinding to a halt. The government has a golden opportunity to boost growth, reduce inflation and give the economy the kick-start that it deserves by getting fuel prices down. I am urging everyone that cares about fuel prices to get behind this – let’s get the politicians talking about fuel.”
While supermarkets may have injected some good news into the headlines this month, offering to cut the price of unleaded petrol and diesel by up to 2 pence per litre, the costs of running a 44 tonne truck have increased by £1,000 a year.
Rob Lane, director of Britannia Lanes of Devon, said that during a quiet spell, each depot used 5,000 litres of fuel a month – a figure which could easily double during busy spells.
Even though Britannia Lanes buys in bulk, the company is paying virtually the same price as motorists on the forecourt. "We're now paying 136.20p a litre of diesel," he said.
"It's having a massive effect on the business which we can't pass on to the client because overall, it's extremely quiet in the removals sector."
As a result, he said, the business had diversified into new areas such as hiring vehicles out, which has just celebrated its first year, and providing self-storage facilities.
Mr Lane said that even though the firm's fleet used fuel efficient engines, rising fuel costs were still having a dramatic effect on the business and with money-saving options such as filling up on the continent now no longer viable due to European fuel being the same price.
“We are totally behind this campaign and recommend businesses and consumers alike get behind it – we need to take a stand, fuel prices are hindering the economy and we need the Government to do something about it.”
Under the initiative, if an e-petition receives 100,000 or more supporters, it will almost certainly be guaranteed a full debate in Parliament on the issue. Currently, signatures stand at over 40,000 (closing date 08 August, 2012).
To sign up to the petition, visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/347