Texaco joined forces with the Federation of Small Businesses last month to warn the nation that the local service station is under threat and many communities face losing the last shop in their area.

Guy Vigar, Texaco’s general manager, retail sales, took part in radio phone-ins across the country warning the public that if they don’t use their local forecourt, they will lose it.

He said more than 20,000 service stations had closed in the UK in the past 30 years, leaving less than 10,000 remaining - the lowest number since before the First World War. He also told listeners that the problem wasn’t just about fuel - tens of thousands of other high-street businesses had also closed, including banks, post offices, newsagents, chemists, grocers, bakers and off licences. He explained that it was the forecourt that was very often the last shop left in many communities which now provided these services - and even these were faced with closure.

"The days when the service station was just about fuel are gone," he said. "Our retailers provide most of the things people need each day in a convenient location. The problem is that, as small businesses, they don’t have the power of the big supermarkets, which means they struggle to compete.

"However, large supermarkets need large communities, which means that smaller communities are seeing their shops closing, but aren’t seeing anything take its place.

"The message is clear - please come and see what your local service station has to offer or it might not be there any longer." He also took the opportunity to explain that Texaco had the largest branded network of independently-owned sites in the UK, with the largest number of community and rural service stations.

Stephen Alambritis, spokesperson for the FSB, said small firms such as service stations provided more than half of the employment in the UK and had a valuable role in supporting their local community with tailored products and services for people in their area.