Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Tynedale snubbed in fuel duty cut experiment

Tynedale snubbed in fuel duty cut experiment
By BRIAN TILLEY

Last updated at 08:37, Wednesday, 06 November 2013
PLEAS from Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman for a cut in fuel duty in rural areas of Tynedale have fallen on deaf ears.

For his Coalition Government colleague Danny Alexander restricted a 5p cut in fuel prices largely to marginal Lib Dem seats in Scotland.

The snub has been pounced on by the Labour administration at Northumberland County Council.

The county council’s business chairman Coun. Scott Dickinson said: “This is a slap in the face for rural households and businesses in our county as we’ve again been snubbed.

“Only a month ago, Guy Opperman was calling on David Cameron to cut fuel duty for rural areas in Northumberland, but Lib Dem minister Danny Alexander has picked seven constituencies in Scotland from a list of 10.

“Clearly, Guy Opperman has been ignored and you’ve got to wonder why Cameron and Clegg’s Con Dem government continues to ignore the needs of our county.”

Seven of the 10 areas where fuel duty is being cut by Treasury Secretary Mr Alexander are Lib Dem seats in Scotland, with the others being in North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Devon.

The measure is targeted to help ‘rural communities who spend more per head on fuel costs’ but the Labour group in Northumberland has raised concerns over why the county has been ignored.

Northumberland is ‘predominantly rural’ with over 79 per cent of its area classified by the government as rural.

It also suffers from lower spending per head than urban areas which, on average, receive over £70 more per head under the government grant formula.

Northumberland also suffers from lower average earnings and Labour is pointing to these factors to show why the county should have been included in the 5p cut in fuel pilot.

Despite the failure this time round, Mr Opperman said he would continue his fight for a 5p per litre cut in Tynedale’s petrol bills.

Currently, to qualify for the relief, an area must be a remote rural location, more than 100 miles from a refinery, with a sparse population and high local fuel prices.

The MP said: “Since coming to Parliament I have campaigned for the Government to drop the fuel duty rises that were planned by Labour.

“George Osborne has listened and, to his credit, petrol is now 13p per litre cheaper than it would have been under Labour’s plans.

“This will save an average family almost £150 each year in filling up the family car.

“There has not been a singe rise in fuel duty since this government came to power and a promise to freeze it until the general election means petrol will be 20p cheaper than if Labour were in power.”

The MP said that despite the government freezing duty, petrol costs were still a burden in rural areas.

He said: “ Filling up the car not only hurts the pockets of hard-working people, it also hurts the bottom line of small business in the region.

“Almost a million British families spend a quarter of their income simply on running their car; here in our rural area that often isn’t a choice.

“Fuel duty hits the poorest Brits twice as hard as the rich, and that’s why I am still fighting to bring the extra 5p duty cut for the remotest areas to Northumberland.”

Motorists are enjoying the biggest fall in petrol prices since the depths of the credit crunch in 2008 – cutting nearly £4 off the cost of filling a family car. Average petrol prices in the UK fell 5.49p a litre to 132.16p between mid-September and mid-October, according to the AA.

First published at 07:41, Wednesday, 06 November 2013
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk

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