Where to start when there are such serious issues facing the forecourt sector, as the twists and turns of life as a petrol retailer continue to max-out everyone’s nerves this year.

Firstly the rates issue, which has been hanging around on the horizon for some time but, like a giant wave as it reaches the shore, looks much worse close up and is likely to cause havoc to all in its path. In the same way, the grumblings in the network over the matter have gathered momentum and have now grown to fever pitch and a fightback has commenced. Brian Madderson, the new man at the new PRA (now called RMI Petrol...?) is leading the charge into battle with the Valuations Office Agency before it is too late. The message is YOU DON’T HAVE MUCH TIME. So get in touch with Brian (see stories on page four and page 10) to support your industry, and to ensure you don’t spend the next few years moaning about paying excessive costs.

Another serious issue concerns fuel the very lifeblood of a forecourt, following a spate of incidents where vehicles are breaking down, having just filled up with what turns out to be contaminated fuel. The problem appears to be water contamination in forecourt tanks, but is occurring on sites that have never had a problem with water ingress. Retailers say they have followed the necessary guidelines and why wouldn’t they, because the consequence of supplying motorists with contaminated fuel is too much of a nightmare to contemplate. Oil companies are pleading innocence. Surely it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. What is important is that the industry gets to the bottom of what’s going on before it spirals out of control. If there is a problem with E5, or if it is so sensitive to certain conditions it easily falls below standard, new guidelines are required now.

On a lighter note, many thanks to Graham Peacock of MRH and BP’s Neale Smither for taking part in our first webcast. Be sure to watch it on www.forecourtrader.co.uk