The Federation of Petroleum Suppliers’ Forecourt Division has been encouraged by the initial replies to its letter urging 52 MPs to reconsider their Early Day Motion, which called for retailers to match the recent decline in oil prices by reducing the price of their fuel. A spokesman for the FPS, which asked MPs to consider the negative impact

such a move would have on independent petrol retailers, said the MPs seemed to

appreciate the far-reaching implications of reducing fuel prices and that these retailers needed all the help they could get to survive and continue providing vital services to their local communities.

In the letter to MPs, the Forecourt Division drew attention to the relentless decline of independent forecourts in recent years and to the alarming statistic revealing that there are now fewer petrol forecourts operating in the UK than were open in 1912.

The FPS said many of the supermarkets and main retailers sold fuel at a price lower than that at which independent forecourts could purchase it, because they could cross-subsidise it from other sectors of their business.

"Most independent forecourts are lucky to return a gross profit of between 2-3p per litre from a relatively low throughput," the Forecourt Division wrote in its letter. "Some have severe cash flow problems because of the high price of petrol and are no longer able to keep their storage tanks full. Independents are also about to face another hurdle to their remaining in business - the 2ppl rise in duty in April."