Ahead of next week’s Autumn statement, the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), on behalf of its 5,500 small, independent retailer members today called on Minister for Business and Enterprise Michael Fallon MP, to restore economic fortunes to small forecourt shop owners by scrapping “onerous and ill-considered” regulation.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson, in an open letter to Fallon, said petrol retailers were being ’hit by wave after wave of regulation’ which threatened businesses at one of the worst economic times for small businesses owners in the UK.

“Government should be focusing on restoring our economic fortunes this autumn and therefore it is vital that misguided policies are rejected,” wrote  Madderson.

This call on the government to stand with retailers comes as latest figures show that hundreds of forecourts closed across the UK last year and 6,000 have closed since 1998.

“Last year 400 forecourts closed across the UK (Energy Institute) and our worry is that with the implementation of yet more onerous and ill-considered regulation, this closure trend will continue unabated,” continued Madderson.

Specifically, PRA called for Government to focus on restoring economic fortunes by reforming the payment system for fuel duty so that it is fairer for motorists. This would also help small businesses who are facing major declines in sales of petrol which they rely on as a major part of their income.

In addition, Madderson asked that the government work with retailers to crack down on illicit tobacco trade which robs legitimate shop owners and benefits criminals. PRA also called on the government to scrap regulations which will only further benefit the black market for tobacco and rob legitimate retailers of sales which can account for up to 50% of their total shop revenue.

In conjunction with this call on the government, PRA today also released a new poll of hundreds of petrol retailers across the UK. This survey found that retailers are both pessimistic about the economy and concerned about how government regulations will impact their businesses:

· 56% see no progress in the UK economy compared to last year.

· 62% believe that the illicit trade in tobacco products is having a negative impact on their business.

· 88% believe that a plain packaging policy would make it easier for forgers to produce counterfeit cigarettes.

· 65% believe plain packaging for tobacco products would negatively impact their businesses.

· 73% believe the government has gone too far with tobacco regulations.

“These small retailers, whose fuel volumes and margins continue under extreme pressure, are concerned that Government might force changes which are neither helpful to the tobacco issue nor helpful to their convenience shop sector,” concluded Madderson.