Prices at pumps rile angry drivers

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ANGRY drivers claim they are being deliberately bled dry at the petrol pumps.

And a senior Blackpool business figure says it is affecting nearly every business in the town.

As an investigation is launched by the Office of Fair Trading into whether reductions in the price of crude oil are being passed on to motorists at the pumps - the critics say not - drivers say it is becoming a nightmare to keep their vehicles on the road.

Petrol prices have risen 38 per cent since June 2007, while diesel has gone up by a whopping 43 per cent, now closing in on 140p a litre.

And it hasn’t gone down well in Blackpool.

Steve Bartley, of St Annes Road, South Shore, claims he has had to be careful about how often he drives.

Mr Bartley, 43, said: “I have a young family and it is getting increasingly difficult to keep a car on the road and have enough money left over to feed my kids.

“I’ve actually started car-sharing with a mate. He gives me a lift to work one day, I take him the next.

“It’s the only way I can afford to keep my car because the prices have gone through the roof and no one seems bothered about stopping it.”

Sally Stapleton, of Kendal Road, St Annes, said she was sick to the back teeth of the prices.

She added: “But what can we do? We’re powerless because someone else decides on a price and we are the mugs that have to pay it.

“We all need our cars so we have to stump up. They’ve got us exactly where they want us.”

It is also tough for business, with many firms affected.

Coun Tommy Threlfall - whose brother runs Michael Threlfall Haulage in his Freckleton ward - believes it is about time prices were cut.

Coun Threlfall said: “When you compare us to what people globally are paying for fuel, there is no doubt we are paying a high price.

“It impacts on business as a whole, especially the independent haulage companies, and it can bankrupt some.”

Howard Lewis, chairman of Blackpool Business Leadership Group, is concerned.

He said: “It puts a lot of pressure on all types of business when petrol prices are as high as they are.

“It isn’t only haulage companies that are hit hard but businesses that rely on deliveries and transport, everyone from taxi drivers to hospitality firms.

“Prices always rise quickly when the price of crude oil goes up, but when oil price comes down it isn’t reflected at the pumps.”

As part of its investigation, the Office of Fair Trading has called for information from the industry, motoring groups and consumer bodies amid concerns over the prices charged for petrol and diesel.