Fuel price protest will bring roads to a standstill

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FROM taxis to 10-ton trucks, dozens of vehicles are expected to bring Sunderland’s streets to a halt tomorrow as protesters fight to drive down rocketing fuel prices.

Driving instructor Paul Jasper, of The Driving Company, will lead a go-slow drive protest through the city centre in a bid to pile pressure on the Government to scrap April’s hike in petrol duty.

It is feared fuel prices could soar by up to 5p a litre taking petrol to an average of 133.3p a litre, equivalent to £6 a gallon, and diesel to 137.8p a litre, or £6.25 a gallon.

It will be the fourth fuel duty rise in a year and follows this month’s VAT rising to 20 per cent.

Mr Jasper, from Castletown, Sunderland, said the hike in prices will push hundreds of small companies out of business and have a devastating effect on thousands of Wearside households.

“The demonstration is in response to sky-high fuel prices,” he said. “We want the Government to seek a new incentive in providing a stabilisation plan and place pressure on the oil companies and OPEC. We are also asking them not to increase fuel prices in April.”

Mr Jasper, 51, has been given backing from taxi firms, haulage companies and a string of city businesses.

It is feared the rising price of crude oil, which is now about £61 a barrel, could mean even more anguish for them in the coming months.

“We want to get as many small businesses and members of the general public as possible to support the protest and keep the issue of high fuel prises in the spotlight,” he said.

“We are expecting up to, and possibly more than, 100 vehicles to take part.

“There will be driving instructors, taxi, small haulage and bus companies.

“There will also be a demonstration on the Wearmouth Bridge by the general public.

“We are trying to get as many people along as we can. Everybody can make a difference.”

Meeting shortly after 10am, the protest will leave Morrison’s car park, in Seaburn, at 11am, heading along the seafront towards the Wearmouth Bridge, through St Peter’s, before ending at Hendon Fuel Depot.

The protest at Wearmouth Bridge is expected to take place at about 11.15am.