HUNDREDS of motorists are expected to bring Sunderland’s streets to a halt as they fight to drive down rocketing petrol prices.
Driving instructor Paul Jasper, of The Driving Company, will lead a go-slow drive protest later this month in a bid to get the Government to push down the ever-rising cost of fuel.
Mr Jasper fears the hike in prices – which comes as the Government increased fuel duty on January 1 by 0.76p a litre with a further rise due tomorrow when VAT increases to 20 per cent – will push hundreds of small companies out of business and have a devastating effect on thousands of Wearside households.
He said: “The fuel prices going up by this horrendous amount means everyone will suffer in many ways, down to the cost of a loaf of bread.
“It’s going to have a phenomenal effect and people just don’t seem to realise the extent of it.
“People say to me ‘why don’t you just put your prices up’, but you can’t do that because there’s always going to be a bigger company that can offer it cheaper so customers will go elsewhere.
“It’s about time the government started thinking about small businesses because ultimately they are the ones that are going to pay.
“I’m now paying double the amount for fuel than I was two years ago when it was about 79p, now it’s about £1.25, that’s a 60 per cent rise in two years – it’s ridiculous.”
Mr Jasper, 50, has already got backing from three taxi firms, two haulage firms and a string of city businesses, with 120 vehicles pledging to join the convoy of slow moving cars driving through Sunderland.
And with hundreds more expected to show their support on the day, Mr Jasper, of Castletown, is urging Wearsiders to join them and make a stand.
“People have been sleepwalking into 2011 and it’s about time people started to lose their apathy,” he said.
“Any drivers can join us on the day and we would love to see the public lining the streets to show their support because this just can’t go on.”
Mr Jasper is calling on the Government to reduce fuel tax and cut fuel prices to £1.
And he wants Wearsiders to boycott more expensive mainstream garages offering fuel for even more inflated prices.
He said: “This year is going to be tough as it is without this as well. People’s livelihoods depend on it.
“It’s quite simple. These fuel rises will mean everything will cost more as people need to recoup their money.”
The fuel protest takes place on Saturday, January 22, at 10.30am.
It will start at Roker Retail Park, near the Wheatsheaf pub, and will see the vehicles make their way slowly over Wearmouth Bridge, through Sunderland and back over Queen Alexandra Bridge.
For more details, phone Mr Jasper on 07710690295.