BP accused of trying to wipe out customer's site

11 February, 2014
Page 7 

The owner of a BP garage has accused the oil giant of aiming to wipe out his business after it won planning permission for a massive development just 50m from his site.

His grievance was deepened because he only learned about the scheme when a friend told him about the application and he had no contact from BP about it until he emailed them.

Simon Privett has owned and operated the Tollgate Service Station near the A2 at Gravesend in Kent since 1999 and has been a customer of BP since then, with the latest renewal of the supply contract for a further five years taking place in March 2012.

He sells 11.5mlpa of fuel from 12 pumps, and the site also has a Spar shop and a recent Subway franchise.

Now BP is proposing to build an 18-pump service station and two-storey drive-through McDonald's between the A2 and his site.

A transport survey supporting the application asserted that all the trips currently going to his site will transfer to the new development, and that signs currently directing traffic from the A2 to his site would direct traffic to the new site.

Simon has vowed to fight the plans, but says it is a case of a huge business trampling over a small businessman. He said: "This site is my pension. I've put my whole life into it. We're reviewing our options, but they have an endless bucket of money to fight this with.

"I can't understand the ethics or the morality of what they are doing. The profits from this site will be meaningless to a company of BP's size, but it is everything to me."

In a statement BP said it had previously owned and operated the Turnpike service station at Northfleet, Gravesend, adjacent to the northbound carriageway of the A2, but it was purchased in October 2006 under a compulsory purchase order.

It added: "BP has, since that date, been interested in finding another site in a similar area. At the time of negotiating the fuel supply agreement with Mr Privett BP was unable to disclose that it was interested in the Tollgate site (due to the discussions being at an early stage and confidential)."

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