Fuming over the cost of fuel

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As the price of fuel rockets up to £70 a tank, the Guardian launches our Under The Pump campaign to highlight the impact on our readers.

Petrol prices are already at an all-time high and the indications are they’re going to continue to rise.

In Chorley and Leyland, motorists are currently paying around £1.24 per litre for unleaded fuel and £1.29 for a litre of diesel.

The hefty cost is being blamed on the high price of oil and the implementation of the increased fuel duties and the higher VAT rate in January.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, the UK now has the second highest diesel price in Europe and on the continent, the total price is split about 50/50 between the cost of the fuel itself and tax.

In the UK, the average product price is 38 per cent of the total, with the remaining 62 per cent coming from tax.

Filling an average-sized family car can cost upwards of £70, and those who rely on their cars to get around will continue to see a hike in their monthly budget.

Chorley Council has a fleet of 37 vehicles and 14 mowers.

Coun Eric Bell, who oversees Chorley Council’s streetscene fleet of vehicles, said that, like everyone, they had been hit by the recent high cost of fuel.

He added: “It has increased our costs and those of our contractors, but we are managing to contain them.

“We are constantly looking at ways to reduce journeys, and the numbers of vehicles used to ensure we are as efficient as possible, but without it affecting the quality of our services.

“We have also changed our pattern for buying fuel, in that we are waiting until our fuel reserves are lower so that in buying more we can get a better price.

“We our proud of the services we deliver, and we are working hard to ensurethat they are not just maintained but improved.”

Lorry drivers and taxi firms will feel the pinch due to the nature of their businesses but the rise in fuel costs is something that affects everyone who runs a vehicle.

From a pensioner who uses a car once a week to do the shopping, to hauliers who drive for a living, the implications of the price rise are far-reaching.

More and more people are being forced to seek work away from the area where they live and with public transport systems under pressure, commuters feel that they have no choice other than to take to the roads.

For the full special report, see this week’s Guardian.