MOTORISTS in Huddersfield are bracing themselves for record fuel bills in the run-up to Christmas.
The RAC said petrol prices could soar past 110p a litre – £5 a gallon – in the weeks leading up to the festive period.
The latest prices rises – blamed on worldwide oil costs and the falling value of the pound – could hit millions visiting family and friends, making those Yuletide trips even more expensive.
It means prices are up more than a quarter on last year when a litre of unleaded fuel cost 87p.
This means filling up an average family car will cost £60.50 – around £12.15 more than a year ago.
Huddersfield fuel expert Chris Stern agrees the year has seen a massive hike in fuel, but believes the run up to Christmas might not be as bad as predicted.
“It’s difficult to predict because if oil prices rise then the petrol and diesel on the pumps will rise accordingly,’’ he said.
“But although we have seen a general movement upwards in the last month I don’t think we’ll see too much in the way of fuel prices increasing in the run-up to Christmas.
“We could actually see a period of stability rather than an increase.”
Mr Stern, of Paddock-based petrol retailer C J Stern (Oils) Ltd, said bottom rate prices on forecourts in the Huddersfield area currently stand at 106.9p a litre for unleaded fuel and 107.9p for diesel.
But he said the town enjoyed fuel prices below the national average, but like everywhere had seen huge increases over the last 12 months.
Mr Stern said: “We’ve seen the price of oil more than double this year from 35 dollars a barrel to just short of 80 dollars a barrel. We’ve also seen two duty increases over the last 12 months.”
But motorists do need to brace themselves for pump misery in the New Year when a planned 2.5% VAT increase on January 1 will add a further £1.50 to the cost of a tank.
Mr Stern said: “If we think about prices already being at 106.9p, even if they stay as they are it won’t take much to push it up to the £5 mark.
“The big increase is going to be the VAT going back up at the end of the year, which is when prices will hit that mark.
“Prices will hopefully decrease in the short-term future, but I can’t see us crashing back down to level we saw at the beginning of this year because of countries coming out of the recession are creating more demand.”
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