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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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5p rural fuel discount would safeguard jobs for Cumbria

DRIVERS and businesses in Cumbria have welcomed news that a 5p fuel discount could be on the cards for rural areas.

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Hopeful: Wayne Ferguson from W Ferguson Fuels, Abbeytown

In the government’s mid-term review, there are suggestions that ministers are considering cutting fuel duty in areas that have been worst hit by the current prices of £1.40 per litre or more.

The discount, should it be approved, could see a 5p per litre reduction in petrol prices. It would be aimed at some rural areas where more people need to travel by road and possibly have to travel greater distances to get to amenities.

Alistair Nixon, manager of Cumbria Cabs, said it could have a “massive impact.”

“If the discounts apply to us then we would see a significant saving,” he said. “It would definitely allow us to safeguard our jobs and possibly expand.”

Wayne Ferguson, director of W Ferguson Fuels based in Abbeytown, said they spend around £1,000 a month on fuel.

“We do a lot of deliveries and spend a lot on fuel, so any discount would allow us to make significant savings,” he said.

“We need to use vehicles in this area because places are more spread out in this county than many others, so fuel should be cheaper.”

Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart last year urged the government to extend the rural fuel discount to include Cumbria.

Speaking in a Commons debate on motoring fuel costs, he said: “The Government must acknowledge that in some constituencies, such as Penrith and the Border, we are expected to travel twice the distance to access essential services, and this needs to be recognised.

“A rural fuel pilot in Cumbria would be a very good start.”

Mr Stewart believes that rising fuel costs have a disproportionate impact on rural areas. A similar scheme has already been launched by Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander in the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Northern Isles, and the Isles of Scilly, now with other mainland areas being considered.

Any potential discounts would have to be approved by the European Commission because there would potentially be an issue regarding competition laws.

However, other European countries have introduced similar discounts, with the French island Corsica plus Portuguese and Greek islands having been given approval from Brussels.

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