RURAL areas of North Yorkshire, including Selby and Hambleton, have the highest fuel costs in Yorkshire, a new study has shown.

Research by the Countryside Alliance revealed the average monthly fuel cost for Selby residents is £80.15, and £77.56 for those living in Hambleton, while the average monthly cost to people living in local authorities was £67.45 in November.

The study suggests fuel costs have increased more than £5 per month since January, hitting rural businesses hardest, and callsfor Chancellor George Osborne to cut fuel duty in his pre-budget report next week.

Jenny Dunn, Countryside Alliance policy researcher, said: “This burden weighs far heavier on rural people, for whom cars are a necessity due to long commutes and lack of public transport options.

The future viability of rural businesses and communities are under severe threat from the spiralling costs of driving.”

Nigel Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty, called on the Chancellor to address the issue, saying: “Rural areas are hit worse as the price of fuel has risen.

“I’m pleased the Government stopped Labour’s planned fuel duty rise earlier in the year which has effectively saved six pence per litre, but the situation is still very bad.”

He said the Government had recently launched the fair fuel stabiliser, which will see the duty on fuel decrease as the price of oil rises, but motorists would not see the benefit until next year.

He joined calls to reduce fuel duty and to scrap the three pence rise in January.

“I think the cost of fuel is way too high. Clearly the worldwide oil prices are difficult to control, but we can do something about duty.

“I’m hopeful the Chancellor is able to find the money in his statement to help businesses and motorists.”

Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk and Malton and chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee, also backed calls for lower fuel prices, and wants to see a scheme proposed in rural communities in the Hebrides and Scilly Isles extended to North Yorkshire, with a rural rebate of five pence a litre.

She said: “You only have to look at pump prices and the distances people have to travel to work. It would be set in very clearly defined geographic areas and it is not permanent, but a short-term relief during very tough times for private households and businesses.”

The York Chamber of Commerce has also urged the Government to postpone the January fuel duty increase, and said: “The increase would be extremely bad for private sector growth. Businesses are already faced with burdening cost pressures and high inflation coupled with weak consumer confidence threatens to submerge the economy into a long period of stagflation.

“The rise in fuel duty would be particularly detrimental to Yorkshire’s rural business. A lack of alternative transport means that rural businesses are heavily dependent on cars, yet they already face higher petrol prices than their urban counterparts.”

Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, said: “I think Tuesday’s pre-budget report is a very important statement for the country, and we have to get policies regarding growth through.

“We will see what comes out of the statement but I would like to see some action there on fuel. I have always stated I think we do need to see duty rises postponed, and I think we will be looking for some positive action from the Chancellor on that.”

York Press: The Press - Comment

Rising fuel costs cannot continue

THE soaring cost of petrol has hit everybody: families who need the car for the weekly shop; businesses; people commuting to work.

Inevitably, however, those who suffer most are people living in rural areas. If you live in a city, you may be able to walk or cycle to work, or catch a train or bus.

In the countryside, that is usually not an option. People rely on their cars.

Those living in rural areas of North Yorkshire such as Selby and Hambleton face the highest petrol prices in Yorkshire, putting them at a double disadvantage. The people who need their cars the most pay the most to use them.

Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce a three-pence rise in fuel duty in his pre-budget report next week. But he is coming under increased pressure from North Yorkshire MPs to scrap the rise – and even cut duty.

Tory MP for Thirsk and Malton Anne McIntosh, for example, wants a rural rebate of 5p a litre. That sounds an excellent idea. Certainly, something must be done.

The soaring cost of petrol is blighting rural family life – and crippling rural businesses. It cannot continue.

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