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Bleak winter for motorists

PUBLISHED: 10:19 28 October 2009 | UPDATED: 08:46 01 August 2010

RURAL businesses and families are facing an even bleaker winter as fuel prices in Suffolk hit their highest level of the year.

Petrol at the pumps is now as steep as 112p a litre - nearly five pence more than the national average.

RURAL businesses and families are facing an even bleaker winter as fuel prices in Suffolk hit their highest level of the year.

Petrol at the pumps is now as steep as 112p a litre - nearly five pence more than the national average.

Diesel is also at its highest price of the year, peaking at 113p in some parts of the county, according to petrolprices.com.

The disparity between urban and rural prices has led one Suffolk charity to call for a national road charging policy to be considered in an attempt redress the balance.

Dr Wil Gibson, chief executive of Suffolk ACRE, which helps communities in the county, said: “Rural families are more reliant on cars and have to pay a premium on fuel.

“They are having to spend more of their disposable income on travel in a major recession. This will have a knock-on effect for other things like heating and food.

“If there was a differential charge on roads for urban and country routes that could subsidise those who are paying more for their petrol.”

The average price of unleaded in Eye is 109.1p, while in Stowmarket it is 108.2p - compared to a national average of 107.14p.

Diesel does not fare any better with several towns across the county coming in higher than the UK average of 108.4p.

Luke Bosdet, a spokesman for the AA, said: “Rural fuel stations will also be feeling the pressure because they have a smaller volume of customers and have to meet overheads.

“Drivers themselves have to find ways of cutting back because they are less able to afford the higher prices, especially as they will see the demands of winter motoring increase their fuel consumption.

“They will then have less money to spend elsewhere so it hits other businesses as well.”

According to the AA, national average prices had fallen to 104.97p a litre by October 11, with diesel at 105.96p, but continuing volatility on the stock market has pushed costs back up in recent days.

This means a tank of petrol now costs on average nearly 110p more than it did two weeks ago.

Paul Watters, head of public affairs at the AA, said: “With the rise in wholesale prices slowing and the price of oil falling back, the AA is hoping that this is yet another spike in the pump price that will drop back.

“This is bad news for families trying to make ends meet in recession.”

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