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Mixed feelings over petrol price cut

Supermarkets are slashing prices but independent filling stations are not happy. Below: Brian Madderson from the Petrol Retailers Association

Supermarkets are slashing prices but independent filling stations are not happy. Below: Brian Madderson from the Petrol Retailers Association

Fylde drivers got some pre-Christmas cheer thanks to a supermarket petrol price cut war.

First Asda announced it was cutting up to 2p a litre off its petrol and 1p off its diesel.

Then Tesco, which claims to be Britain biggest fuel retailer, said it too was reducing its petrol by up to 2p a litre while also cutting diesel by 1p.

Morrisons too are aiming to remain “competitive in every area” and were offering petrol at £126.9 and diesel at £135.9, with some customers getting 6p off a litre vouchers after shopping in store .

The Asda reductions mean its customers will pay no more than 126.7p a litre for petrol and 134.7p for diesel.

But the price slashing has been greeted with dismay by independent filling stations across the Fylde who say the supermarkets are too powerful for them to compete with.

Vanessa Jones, manager of the Ansdell Filling Station, on Church Road, St Annes, said the competition was clearly unfair and could ultimately result in motorists not having as wide a choice of places to go for fuel in the future.

She said: “They can use their massive retail buying power to get deals. Small independents cannot even buy fuel for their pumps at the price the supermarkets are selling it for now.

“Even the company-owned filling stations can’t compete. I have friends working in petrol stations and many have lost their jobs over the years as places closed down.”

Brian Madderson, Petrol Retailers’ Association Chairman, has called for the Office of Fair Trading to look into fuel discounting at supermarkets.

He said: “It is imperative that the Office of Fair Trading re-open their investigation into the UK fuel market.

“Last year another 175 independent forecourts closed for business. This follows the admission by Justin King, CEO of Sainsbury, in a BBC Radio 5 Live interview that the only product sold below cost had been fuel. This was said to have occurred over a six- month period and increased Sainsbury’s UK fuel sales by six per cent.

“This is the equivalent to the entire annual volume of 40 independent retailers. Such practices are causing the trend of independent forecourt closures.”

However, Asda petrol trading director Andy Peake said: “With Christmas just around the corner, and finances tighter than ever, we’re pleased we can do our bit to make our customers’ hard-earned cash go a little further.” Pete Williams, head of external affairs at the RAC, said: “Cheaper fuel is something motorists will widely welcome and comes ahead of both last-minute Christmas shopping this weekend, and the rush on the roads next week.

“The wholesale price of fuel is at its lowest rate since early November so we hope that other retailers pass on a similar saving.”

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