Cabbie threat to gridlock town over fuel

DISGRUNTLED cabbies fed-up with crippling petrol price hikes today threatened to bring Ipswich to “a complete standstill” by staging a fuel protest in the town centre.

DISGRUNTLED cabbies fed-up with crippling petrol price hikes today threatened to bring Ipswich to “a complete standstill” by staging a fuel protest in the town centre.

Taxi drivers have begun negotiations with Ipswich Borough Council to seek permission to raise fares in response to the spiralling cost of filling up.

Usually the review of taxi fares is carried out in December, but with fuel costs rising by the week, drivers are demanding immediate action.

And should those talks break down, cabbies are planning to make their voices' heard in protests which could cause severe disruption to Ipswich.


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The move come on the day The Evening Star once again gives its readers the chance to find the cheapest fuel possible.

Every Friday the Star carries out a fuel survey in the area showing who has the cheapest and most expensive fuel to help its readers save pounds at the pump as prices continue to rocket.

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Eric Pearl, former spokesman for the Ipswich Taxi Drivers Association, said: “There are no concrete plans at this stage, but we are considering a fuel protest based on the fact the government need to bring down fuel taxes.

“You can't do much about the worldwide price of oil, but the government can cut taxes.

“We staged a protest three or four years ago and we brought Ipswich to a complete standstill.

“We are talking to the local haulage firms because it affects them, too.”

Mr Pearl said cab companies were trying to shelter customers from the escalating prices at the pumps, but admitted higher fares were necessary.

He said: “We are all trying hard not to put prices up, but we are seeking a fare increase to cover part of the increase in costs.

“We expect to foot some of the bill, but it's reasonable to pass on some of the costs to the customer - and we simply have to because of the way things are going.”

Meanwhile travel company bosses have also revealed the devastating effect of fuel price rises.

John Mitchell, director of GM Travel, based in Barham, said his firm had been forced to bear the brunt of price increases.

He said: “We have contracts which means we can't pass on the cost to our customers. We have to run at the same prices until we can renegotiate those contracts.

“As coach operators, we don't get the subsidies bus operators enjoy. They get fuel duty rebates but because we are not running registered services, we don't get it.

“The petrol price rises will certainly affect us at the end of the financial year.”

The AA today said that average fuel prices in East Anglia were in line with the national average. For petrol, the average is 112.6p per litre, while for diesel it is 124.2p. The most expensive areas to buy fuel are in London and the south east, where, on average, petrol costs 113.2p and diesel costs 124.5p.

A spokesman for the AA said: “The situation in East Anglia has improved slightly. This time last year, the region was one of the most expensive in the country to buy fuel.”

Do you sympathise with cabbies? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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