Posted: Sat 19th Aug 2023

Urgent call to end North Wales ‘motorist tax’ on fuel prices

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Aug 19th, 2023

A Member of the Senedd is calling on the UK Government to end the ‘North Wales Tax’ on the region’s motorists.

Clwyd South MS Ken Skates has highlighted the inflated costs of fuel along the A55 from Deeside beyond Conwy – and wants UK Ministers to step in where the ‘toothless’ Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has failed to protect taxpayers.

“There have been various news reports in recent months about the CMA warning supermarkets over petrol pricing, which has been a long time coming. But nothing has changed,” said Mr Skates.

“There continues to be an island of high prices in North East Wales from the border with England where prices are consistently more expensive than can possibly be justified by the pandemic or the war in Ukraine, the two go-to excuses of the Westminster Government.

“This is something I, and many others, have been frustrated about for a long time. The industry claims price differences are due to competitive circumstances – for example, the lack of competition on motorways leads to increased prices – and to buying decisions. Some chains buy at fixed prices which apply for several weeks to protect against oil price increases, whereas others buy at cost.

“I can understand and appreciate the latter, but my concern is with the competitive element. My strong belief is that there should be tighter controls over prices, but this is bound up in competition law which is non-devolved and rests with UK Government Ministers. Drivers on motorways are a captive market, so it’s only fair that they should be protected from inflated prices. Likewise motorists living in remote places where there are few fuel stations.”

Mr Skates pointed out that people in North Wales are already having to deal with the highest energy bills in Britain, with fixed daily charges more than £120 more a year than in the East Midlands.

He continued: “If you compare high volume supermarket sites, for example, where the cost difference for a 35,000-40,000 litre delivery from the Stanlow depot is negligible, they really are taking advantage of North Wales motorists. 

“Sainsbury’s charges 8-10p more in Rhyl than Wrexham, and Morrisons charges 8-9p more in Rhyl than Runcorn. In fact, if you’re in Rhyl, you’d have to drive at least 30 miles to find lower prices.

“Asda, the gatekeeper of this gauntlet of greed along the A55, sets the tone by charging around 7p more at Queensferry than it does in Runcorn. How can these hikes be justified?

“The CMA has been utterly toothless, and successive UK Government Ministers have failed to act. You’d have thought they’d show an interest once they finally had some MPs in North Wales, but we’re still waiting – and we’re still paying the price.”

 

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