Tax threat prompts fuel crisis fears

HAULIERS in Suffolk today hinted they will strike if the anticipated rise in fuel tax is not scrapped.They have called on Chancellor Gordon Brown to abandon the proposed 1.

HAULIERS in Suffolk today hinted they will strike if the anticipated rise in fuel tax is not scrapped.

They have called on Chancellor Gordon Brown to abandon the proposed 1.9p per litre increase scheduled for September 1 amid growing concerns that inflating prices are damaging UK industry.

Demonstrations and heated opposition forced Mr Brown to rethink the plan last month, but he only went as far to say he would withhold a decision until August.

This did enough to quell a possible uprising, like the one seen in 2000 that grounded the country to a standstill, but groups are furious about the uncertainty.


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Sources around Ipswich are very frustrated and say they will take "appropriate action" if Mr Brown does not act soon.

Peter Butler, Ipswich officer for the Road Haulage Association, said: "There is always a chance of some form of protest. The RHA will take the appropriate action when we know more of what is happening.

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"Our members are always asking whether we have any information, but we are as much in the dark as anyone."

He added that the situation last month was near breaking point and said: "Fuel is still a very emotive issue. There was a demonstration in Cardiff and one in Glasgow that went ahead. There were other ones planned but because of what Gordon Brown said they were suspended.

"He said he was going to make an announcement in August, but he will probably put in the increase and that does not give anybody a lot of time to get anything done."

In a letter to the Chancellor, Richard Turner, chief executive of the Freight Transport Association, said: "None of us want to see the return of demonstrations and civil disobedience, but I fear there is that mood still in parts of the haulage industry."

He added how volatile the world market was and said: "I cannot believe that you would want to increase fuel duty against this background and I ask you to remove the doubt now rather than being apparently forced to respond to further public pressure fuelled by militant hauliers."

In the UK, fuel represents around 30-50 per cent of the total cost of operating lorries.

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