Businesses ‘crippled’ by rising petrol prices

SOARING petrol prices are “crippling” businesses who are dependant on fuel, amongst a backdrop of discrepancies in cost across Comet country.

Fuel prices continue to rise with a BP garage in Hitchin’s Bedford Road registering 136.9p per litre of diesel this week, while the garage at Sainsbury’s in Letchworth GC - just a few miles away - was 6p cheaper.

Debbie Tidey, director of Chambers Coaches, which operates from Stevenage, said: “We are impacted by rising prices an awful lot because we try to set our prices for the year and work out what they (the prices of fuel) are going to be, but when it goes up we have to swallow the difference because we can’t keep passing it on to the customer all the time. It’s very very difficult.”

Paul Barrett, who has been driving for Stevenage based ABC Taxis for the last 11 years, said: “We haven’t had a fare increase for over three years and three years ago it was about 84p a litre and now we’re paying around �1.35. So every litre of fuel I’m using I’m losing money.

When asked whether he thought petrol prices were particularly high in Stevenage, Mr Barrett added: “I think so. With the VAT going up and fuel going up everyone wants to do more hours to try to pay the bills.

“The fuel prices are definitely crippling us but unlike other businesses we can’t just put up prices as the fares are set by Stevenage Borough Council and we have to go through a whole process for them to change.”

Taxi operators recently applied for an increase in the tariff which is currently being consulted on. If agreed, it will be implemented from April 1.

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Regarding the taxi tariff process, a council spokesman said: “Taxis (hackney carriages) have to operate to fares set down on the tariff sheet which is regulated by the council. They can negotiate fares for journeys outside the Borough.

“Private hire vehicles are free to negotiate fares, although many operators in Stevenage choose to have metres which are set to the same tariff as taxis.”

*What do you think of soaring petrol prices? Do you know the most expensive garage for fuel in Comet country? Get in touch by calling the newsdesk on 01438 223026, commenting below or emailing

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