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Tension builds as protests planned

01 June, 2004
The spotlight is once again on fuel prices as retailers fear a return to the fuel crisis of 2000
Page 4 
Fears of a return to the fuel crisis of 2000 are plaguing the petrol retailing fraternity as rising prices, threats of demonstrations, and uncertainty in the Middle East have made dramatic news headlines in the national press.
There has been a return of the mass spam emails drumming up support to boycott certain forecourts, while other retailers have been highlighted for their greed in charging extortionate prices.Roger King, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said: “Prices vary up and down the line by huge amounts and we’ve heard of some retailers going over £1 a litre, which strikes us as excessively high. We would have thought that at a time of oil price increases that the duty of all retailers is for margins to be kept as tight as possible to ease the burden on the consumer, but there’s evidence that the petrol retail side is using it as an opportunity to make more money.“Because prices are moving up so quickly, we can’t be sure that they’re not putting up prices higher than their suppliers are.“What we can do about it is boycott those sites that are pricing excessively high, and our members certainly wouldn’t buy from them. “We are organising an event in Edinburgh on June 15 and we have a demonstration in Cardiff where 200 truckers are driving into Cardiff city centre to deliver a letter to the Welsh Assembly in our campaign to cut the 2p per litre tax increase planned for this September and the high level of tax in general.”A demonstration to protest at the rising cost of fuel is also being organised in the north-east of England by Andrew Spence, who formed the People’s Fuel Lobby which staged a series of demonstrations four years ago. “We are planning a series of go-slow convoys around Newcastle,” he said. “It will coincide with other action around the country.”