Having recently driven from the top to the bottom of France and back again, one of the main things I can vouch for apart from the beautiful weather! is the relatively low price of fuel.
How nice it was to be speeding along miles and miles of empty autoroutes, with their huge service station ’aires’ at regular intervals, and fill up with diesel for about £1.25ppl. Of course that smug feeling soon goes when you reach the tollbooths!
But the point is that the high fuel prices in the UK are becoming an increasing deterrent, not just to the joys of motoring, but because of their impact on every aspect of life. Whether directly at the pump or indirectly through many other things we buy, such as food, we are paying for the extra cost incurred by the high price of fuel.
So with the economy at a standstill verging on sliding backwards is it right to have a programme of significant tax rises on something that courses through the heart of daily life? This is not just about the difficulties incurred by petrol retailers having to find more money to finance their fuel loads major concern though that is.
But in the bigger scheme of things, the continually rising fuel prices are acting like a huge brake that is suffocating consumer freedom to go out and spend and get the economic wheels turning. Has anyone done the sums?
It seems like the French may have done. At least the powers that be across the channel are willing to give things a try by instigating a fuel price cut of six euro cents a litre for three months to help the hard-pressed driving community.
It might be a little ’inconfortable’ for zee Engleesh to follow zee French, as the PRA and FairFuel UK are advocating (see news page 4).
But as Quentin Willson, FairFuel UK spokesman, says: "...getting our government to recognise the damage to our economy of rising fuel prices has been as easy as translating Proust." Mon Dieu!