Drivers facing MORE misery: Petrol prices to rise in next 72 hours

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The military will start delivering petrol from Monday but it is feared that a post-pandemic surge in the cost of oil will see petrol prices rocket in the months ahead. The average price per litre of petrol last week hit 136.8p, up from around 116.5p at the start of the year.

Senior Conservative MP Robert Halfon wants a “Pumpwatch” watchdog established to ensure retailers do not exploit motorists and hike up prices unfairly.

He said: “Profiteering retailers must not use the current difficulties to take hard-pressed motorists for fools. We need a PumpWatch regulator so that working people get a fair price at the pumps.”

Howard Cox, founder of FairFuelUK, strongly supports the creation of such a watchdog.

He said: “If gas, electricity, water and telecoms get price protection bodies, why shouldn’t motorists have one too… Most of the profiteering is at wholesale level not by small independent retailers, who are also victims of the greedy fuel supply chain…

“The fuel industry has a moral duty to pass the fairest price on to consumers, yet they have free reign to fleece drivers at will, all unchecked by our Government.”

FairFuelUK is calling for fuel duty to be cut by 3p in next month’s budget.

Yesterday, fuel stocks had increased in every UK nation and region, with more fuel being delivered than being sold in the country’s forecourts. However, average fuel stock levels were at 21 percent, far below the “normal” figure of 40 percent.

Rother Valley Conservative MP Alexander Stafford said his constituents fear that prices will not fall when the present disruption ‑ widely blamed on a lack of HGV drivers ‑ ends.

He said: “Everywhere, petrol has gone up in price. I want that petrol to come down, when things have stabilised, to the price it was.”

The RAC claims that petrol prices are being driven by the cost of oil, which last week hit a three-year high at $80.75. 

The motoring organisation has warned that prices could go up to $90 before the end of the year, potentially pushing unleaded petrol to 143p per litre.

A Government source said that British motorists had benefited from a freeze in fuel duty for 11 consecutive years.

It is issuing visas to fuel drivers from overseas so they will be able to work in the UK until the end of March.

The impact of the petrol supplies debacle on the sales of electric cars will be closely watched.

Rother Valley’s Mr Stafford suspects it will encourage people who had been “uming-and-ahing” about what car to buy to go for an electric model.

The Institute of Economic Affairs’ Christopher Snowdon argues that the chaos in the UK was made worse because petrol stations did not increase prices fast enough.

He said: “This could all have been avoided if petrol stations had raised their prices [last] weekend. There was never a fuel shortage until irrational panic created one.

“Nobody wants higher fuel prices, but it is better to hike prices for a few days than have long queues or no fuel at all.”

A Government spokesman said: “The price of crude oil is increasing across the world, increasing the price consumers pay at the pump. This is a global trend and not just in the UK.

“There are no shortages of fuel. We have taken immediate action to increase the supply of HGV drivers and we are seeing continued signs that the situation at the pumps is improving.

“UK forecourt stock levels are trending up, deliveries of fuel are above normal levels and fuel demand is stabilising.”

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