Sunderland petrol campaigner welcomes fuel price inquiry

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
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A WEARSIDE fuel protestor has welcomed news of an inquiry into prices at the pumps.

But driving instructor Paul Jasper, from Castletown, Sunderland, believes more needs to be done to help businesses cope with the fluctuating cost of filling up.

Driving instructors  taking part in a fuel price protest convoy through Sunderland City Council.

Driving instructors taking part in a fuel price protest convoy through Sunderland City Council.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has launched a review into whether reductions in the price of crude oil are being passed on to motorists.

The watchdog has called for information from the industry, motoring groups and consumer bodies amid concerns over the prices charged for petrol and diesel at the pumps.

The OFT said it will be gathering information over the next six weeks and plans to publish its findings in January.

Petrol prices rose by 38 per cent between June 2007 and June 2012, while diesel prices went up by 43 per cent during the same period.

The OFT said it will explore a number of claims about how the road fuels sector is functioning, including whether supermarkets and major oil companies are making it more difficult for independent retailers to compete.

Mr Jasper, who runs the Ultimate Driving Company and has organised fuel protests in the past, said the OFT inviscation was welcome but the problem was about more than just high prices.

“I genuinely believe we need a price stabilisation plan,” he said.

“Two months ago, prices went down to about £1.27 a litre – now it is back up to £1.40. It is the fluctuation that is the problem. It is hard enough for me to budget as a small business – it must be even harder for bigger firms, who are talking about thousands of pounds in fuel costs.”

Mr Jasper believes drivers would be happy to see a reduced cut in costs at the pumps when the price of crude oil dropped if it also meant prices did not rise as sharply when oil prices went up.

Claire Hart, director in the OFT’s services, infrastructure and public markets group, said: “We are keenly aware of continuing widespread concern about the pump price of petrol and diesel. We have heard a number of different claims about how the market is operating.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We welcome the OFT’s decision.

“Many motorists are concerned about fuel prices and that when crude oil prices fall, this isn’t seen at the pump as quickly as consumers would like.

“We look forward with interest to the findings of the study.”

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho