Sunderland calls for brake on New Year fuel tax rise

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CALLS have been made for chancellor George Osborne to halt the petrol tax rise which looks set to hit motorists next year.

MPs and businesses which use the roads have urged the Government to hold off the 3p increase on each litre of fuel, as people struggle with the rising cost of living and tough economic times.

Driving instructor Paul Jasper, of North View, Castletown, Sunderland, who is planning a fuel protest in Sunderland later in January

Driving instructor Paul Jasper, of North View, Castletown, Sunderland, who is planning a fuel protest in Sunderland later in January

Paul Jasper is chairman of Sunderland Association of Driving Instructors (SADI), which has around 40 members.

It has led four protests through the city in recent years, and travelled down to Downing Street on one occasion as it campaigned for Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown to reduce the cost of petrol.

It has continued to lobby the Coalition to keep the price down and says the Conservatives have failed to keep a pledge they made to bring in a stabiliser on prices, which would keep them at a consistent level, help business plan their budgets and keep their charges steady.

Mr Jasper, who runs The Driving Company and has been an instructor for 12 years, said: “We will be discussing this 3p hike at our meeting next week and I wouldn’t say driving instructors have become immune to it, but we have become very tolerant.

“We believe the prices now should be a lot less, around 10p down.

“We can rant and rave, but motorists can also do their bit.

“Use the cheaper petrol stations, the supermarkets tend to be cheaper than most, and that keeps prices down in an area.”

Labour MPs Sharon Hodgson, who represents the Washington and Sunderland West constituency, and Easington’s Grahame Morris have united in their party’s fight to stop the increase.

In his Autumn Statement on Wednesday, the Chancellor will reveal whether the previously delayed tax increase will be imposed next year. Mrs Hodgson said: “When people in my constituency are already feeling the pinch, economic recovery is still fragile, and this out-of- touch government is giving 8,000 millionaires an average tax cut of over £107,000, it cannot be right to hit middle and low-income families and small businesses with yet another tax rise.

“The price of petrol is now more than £1.36 a litre, a massive rise of 15p since the Tories came to power.

“It’s really disappointing that Tory and Lib Dem MPs voted against our plan to stop the new-year fuel duty hike earlier this month, but I hope the Chancellor will see sense before Wednesday.”

However, the Conservatives accused Labour of “hypocracy.”

A spokesman said: “The Government recognises that the rising price of petrol is a significant part of households’ day-to-day spending.

“Since coming to office the Government has listened to the concerns of motorists about high pump prices and acted.

“Fuel is now 10p a litre lower than under the Labour Government’s plans.”

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham