Anger over petrol prices

A SUPERMARKET has today defended a policy that sees petrol prices differ at stores that are just a few miles from each other.Tesco has come under fire from disgruntled motorist Paul Brackley, who says it is unfair drivers visiting the Martlesham Heath store should pay more for petrol than at the Copdock store – even though they are just 8 miles apart.

A SUPERMARKET has today defended a policy that sees petrol prices differ at stores that are just a few miles from each other.

Tesco has come under fire from disgruntled motorist Paul Brackley, who says it is unfair drivers visiting the Martlesham Heath store should pay more for petrol than at the Copdock store - even though they are just 8 miles apart.

Last Saturday a litre of unleaded cost 87.9p at Copdock but it was 90.9p at Martlesham.

Mr Brackley, who is a self-employed farrier, said he spends around £20 a day on petrol travelling to and from his clients.


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While he said he accepts fuel prices are to a large extent dominated by the price of oil on the stock market, he believes a giant firm like Tesco should be doing more to save it's customers money.

He said: "Because they are a few miles away from each other they are basically at liberty to charge whatever they like.

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"All the supermarkets on the south side of Ipswich are the same price but as soon as you go to Martlesham Heath you have to pay more.

"I'm not happy with it.

"It is the same fuel, it is all coming from the same place. They don't charge a different price for a can of beans or a loaf of bread, they have standard prices on food so why should fuel be any different? It should be standardised."

But a spokeswoman from Tesco said the difference in prices at the two stores was based on the company's policy of trying to undercut all other traders in a three-mile radius.

She said: "It is a local pricing policy where we will not be beaten on price in a three-mile radius, so we will either match the lowest local price or undercut that, it has been in place for years.

She also blamed the high costs of petrol on the rising price of oil on the stockmarket.

She said: "The price of beans is very static and doesn't change daily, but the price of oil changes daily because of stock prices. We react to those conditions to give our customers the best offer."

The daily price of fuel is decided by a manager at each store who checks the prices at local competitors.

The spokeswoman said that the stores could not all operate the lowest price chosen because they do not operate a blanket policy.

She said: "We don't make that much money on petrol. It is a local pricing policy and we are sticking to that policy."

What do you think about rising petrol charges? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

BRITISH motorists are paying more than ever for their fuel.

The cost of both petrol and diesel has rocketed in recent months and drivers are feeling the pinch.

Mr Brackley said the increasing fuel costs in general were a headache for sole traders like himself, who were seeing their own margins being squeezed by the rise in petrol costs.

He said: "I have said to one of my customers that if the fuel prices stay the way they are I'll have to put my prices up as well and they weren't happy.

"I said I would take it off as soon as the fuel price goes down. But now I'm really starting to feel the pinch on my margins."

The cost of petrol includes fuel duty, which currently makes up 47.1 pence of every litre we buy.

Gordon Brown announced in July that the government would postpone an increase in duty that was due in September because of the fluctuations in the price of oil.

Parts of Britain came to a halt in September 2000 when protestors blockaded oil refineries in response to a planned increase in fuel duty.

Motorists drained petrol stations of supplies, mainly through panic buying, and the protest is not widely considered to have been a success - the tax on fuel went up as planned.

In April this year, during the build up to the general election, some lorry drivers staged more protests outside oil refineries, but these did not interrupt the supply of fuel.

The continuing high rises in the cost of oil have meant increases in the cost of petrol all over the world.

The ever-changing cost of filling your tank can be difficult to keep track of, so here is a guide to changes since August last year and the beginning of 2005, compared to current prices.

The Star regularly monitors petrol prices at a selected group of garages - this is how they measure up - all prices are for a litre of unleaded petrol.

Aug 04 Aug05 % Rise (aug 04-05)

Tesco: Stowmarket 80.9 90.9 12.36

Tesco: Newmarket 81.9 91.9 12.21

Tesco: Sudbury 81.5 90.9 11.53

Morrisons: Ipswich 79.9 88.9 11.26

Morrisons: Harwich 79.9 88.9 11.26

Solar: Felixstowe 80.9 91.9 13.6

Asda: Colchester 79.9 87.7 9.7

Shell: Clacton 79.9 88.9 11.26

BP Rivenhall 84.9 88.9 4.71

Haynings: Framlingham 83.9 91.9 9.54

Hammonds: Halesworth 80.9 90.9 12.36

The AA Motoring Trust has offered the following hints and tips to reduce your fuel consumption.

Cut your speed on motorways: Drivers who exceed the legal limit can reduce their speed from 85mph to 70mph and save nearly half a litre of petrol every 10 miles.

Cool your passion for air con: Using the air conditioning constantly at 30mph adds 12 pence to fuel costs every 10 miles, and eight pence every 10 miles at 70mph. In the early morning and late evening, the air vents may do the job just as well.

Avoid the rush hour: Cars that can travel at suburban speeds instead of an inner-city crawl save half a litre of petrol every 10 miles.

Information is a fuel saving: Small cars stuck in traffic jams use up a litre of petrol every 60 minutes, costing drivers nearly 1.5 pence every minute. Medium-sized and larger cars lose petrol and money at double the rate. Before you leave, check your route on TV, radio or the Internet for hold-ups along the way. Avoid notorious bottlenecks at busy times.

Every little helps: Under-inflated tyres, an empty roof rack and open windows can each add 2.5 per cent to fuel consumption. Excess baggage in the boot also adds to the cost of fuel.

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