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Drivers and hauliers voice anger at fuel price variations

By Linda McKee

Motorists and hauliers have joined forces in support of the Belfast Telegraph's campaign for a fair price for fuel everywhere in Northern Ireland.

As part of our Pricewatch campaign, we are demanding an end to the postcode lottery that sees two of Northern Ireland’s retail giants marking up fuel prices in some parts of the province.

Last month, Tesco and Sainsbury were urged to drop their regional pricing policies after it emerged that the cost of filling up is subject to regional variations of up to 5p a litre.

This would cost motorists over £2.50 extra for a tank if they were to fill up in one of the dearer stations.

The campaign has already attracted the support of Finance Minister Nigel Dodds, who warned that the present system represents “unfair exploitation of motorists”.

The AA motoring group has also thrown its support behind the campaign.

President Edmund King said: “UK drivers become incensed when they find the price of petrol across a neighbouring town is significantly cheaper than in theirs.

“They cannot see how charging more to fill up the tank can be justified when a supermarket of the same brand is charging a lower price a few miles down the road.

“The AA supports the Belfast Telegraph’s campaign for fairer pricing across the region, not because it wants to stifle competition but because there is evidence that falls in wholesale prices earlier this summer were not passed on in their entirety to all consumers.

“Our fear is that lower prices in Northern Ireland will be offset by higher prices elsewhere in the UK, as industry sources have indicated.”

Meanwhile, the Royal Automobile Club Foundation for Motoring, which also represents motorists, said it was pleased that the Belfast Telegraph is raising the question of the variation in pump prices across Northern |Ireland.

“It does seem unfair that motorists in one area pay more than in another. Shopping around for fuel creates competition between retailers and if there is room for a drop in prices, this will encourage it,” a spokeswoman said.

“Oil prices are falling at the moment and if some of the smaller local outlets are able to take advantage of this situation, drivers could save twice by not having to go so far to fill up.”

The Irish Road Haulage Association also pledged its support for the campaign.

Jimmy Quinn said there may be a slight difference in the cost of delivering fuel to different areas, but when the fuel is coming in a vehicle on the scale of a 40,000 litre tanker, these differences are minuscule.

“There is no excuse for regional variations in fuel. It should be the same in Newry as it is in Coleraine,” he said.

“Consumers are dismayed that when barrel prices of oil were climbing on a daily basis, that was reflected in the pumps on the following evening.

“But now that prices are on the tumble it seems to take 3-4 months for that to come back to the consumer.”

Make your voice heard by filling out the fair price fuel coupon calling on Tesco and Sainsbury’s to play fair by offering their cheapest price to all their customers in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph

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