PETROL prices are set to hit record highs in Huddersfield – due to the soaring price of crude oil and the latest fuel duty rise.
Figures yesterday showed pump prices between 117p and 120p a litre on local forecourts as oil prices hit an 18-month high and motorists were hit by a 2p rise resulting from last month’s Budget.
Chris Stern, of Paddock-based petrol retailer CJ Stern (Oils) Ltd, said: “Fuel duty went up by 1p on April 1, but the Chancellor also took off the tax break on bio-diesel – something he never mentioned in his Budget speech.
“As a result, motorists are paying 2p a litre more from April 1, which came as something of a surprise.”
Mr Stern said prices were likely to continue rising as crude oil hit 86 dollars a barrel at one stage yesterday.
He said crude prices were being affected by speculation that demand for fuel would rise as the recovery takes hold and the impact of America stockpiling for the summer season.
Mr Stern said: “I don’t see us returning to below £1 a litre because of the fuel duty rises planned for October and January. I don’t think those increases will be scrapped whoever wins the election.”
Adrian Tink, motoring strategist with the RAC, said it was time something was done by the government and oil companies to protect motorists.
He said: “This is a dark time for motorists with the worst-affected virtually paying £6 a gallon for fuel.
“These rises are indiscriminate in who they hurt, from families to businesses to consumers – these rises hit us all.”
Mr Tink said that since Christmas the average price of unleaded had increased by about 15p a litre.
“The RAC would like to see the planned fuel duty increases in October and January scrapped and greater transparency for motorists in how petrol prices are set in the UK.”
A survey showed that rising petrol prices were forcing families to cut back on car use and other spending.
A survey of almost 17,500 AA members showed that 67% were cutting back on car use, other expenditure or both.
This compared with a figure of 61% in November 2009 and 66% in November 2008.
The figures prompted a warning to politicians on the election trail from AA president Edmund King.
He said: “Soaring pump prices have fuelled inflation in recent months and UK petrol sales were down almost 10% in the last quarter of 2009.
“The AA/Populus surveys have in the past shown the Government taking half the blame for rising fuel prices.
“However, the AA voter will be looking to see how other parties respond to the burden of petrol prices soaring to a new record.”