Telegraph: Fuel prices fall as protest jams
motorway: Sunday 18 September 2005
By David Derbyshire,
Consumer Affairs Editor
The cost of petrol tumbled
yesterday as more retailers joined in the
post-Hurricane Katrina price war.
Throughout the day Shell,
Esso, Sainsbury's and Morrisons said they would
the lead set by Asda and Tesco and cutting
prices by up to 4p a litre.
the price war, fuel tax protesters went
ahead with their go-slow on the M4 and
caused major jams
By last night more than
1,000 filling stations across the country were
advertising the lower prices.
Although prices have not yet
reached pre-hurricane levels, further reductions
are expected in the next few days.
Despite the price war,
fuel tax protesters went ahead with their
go-slow on the M4 and caused major jams during
the morning and evening rush hours.
Motorists who joined the
jittery queues for petrol during the first half
of the week paid for the most expensive petrol
in British history. By waiting until the
weekend, less anxious drivers will have saved at
least £2 for a tankful.
Asda started the price war
on Thursday night by cutting a litre of unleaded
by up to 4p at its 158 forecourts. Tesco
immediately followed suit at 380 stations.
Then Esso announced a 4p cut
at 400 service stations and Sainsbury's,
Morrisons and Shell said that they too would be
cutting prices. BP said it was "reviewing
prices" and said it would be making cuts by
Monday evening. Even before the price war, the
price of unleaded had already fallen slightly.
The analysts Catalist said that on Thursday the
average price was 95.9p, down from a peak of
96.1p during the week.
Ray Holloway, of the Petrol
Retailers' Association, said that small
independent filling stations would be the
victims of the price war.
"They are the first to lose
out when prices go up, as they need to put more
money into their business," he said. "Once
prices fall, they lose out again as they have
expensive stocks of fuel which they need to make
a margin on.
"People should look around
at the number of petrol stations closing down.
We think hundreds more will close this year. Do
customers think supermarkets will still offer
low prices when there is no competition?"
believe that the panic buying inflated prices
artificially. Although there is no evidence of
widespread profiteering, many petrol stations
had to call for emergency deliveries and passed
on the extra costs to customers.
Ruth Bridger, of the AA
Motoring Trust, said the 4p cut was welcome, but
said that drivers were still spending £7.5
million extra each day on petrol compared with
January. "Four pence off a litre is very welcome
news but drivers are still dismayed by what they
are paying at the pump," she said.
The panic buying was
triggered by the threat of fuel protests.
However, the threatened blockades of refineries
failed to materialise this week and supplies
Police in south Wales
limited the disruption caused by the M4 go-slow
organised by Mike Greene, of the Welsh Hauliers
and Public Less Tax on Fuel Campaign.
Protesters had planned to
travel at 20mph along the motorway from Cross
Hands, near Llanelli, to Newport in the morning
then back again for the evening rush hour.
Before the convoy of
lorries, coaches and taxis moved off, every
driver was served with a notice under Section 12
of the Public Order Act 1986 which set out a
10-point list of conditions that all protesters
Protesters were also told
that they had to keep to the inside lane, to
drive at a minimum of 40mph and were advised
that cameras would be collecting evidence.
At first the protesters
followed the conditions but speeds quickly
dropped. At a bottleneck near Port Talbot police
ordered the convoy to speed up.