Fuel price crisis: Biggleswade businesses fight back as crisis bites - and one garage predicts prices could rise to £3 a litre

As the fuel crisis revs into furious force, the Chronicle is investigating the impact it has had on Biggleswade companies.

By Jo Robinson
Thursday, 16th June 2022, 10:00 am
Updated Thursday, 16th June 2022, 10:47 am

The RAC states that the average petrol price is now 186.59p per litre, with diesel at 192.48p, while the average car owner in Central Bedfordshire could face an annual rise of over £250.

The change is being blamed partly on the price increase of crude oil (used in petrol and diesel), as suppliers have struggled to keep up with demand post-lockdown, while the war in Ukraine is a factor. As countries ban or phase out Russian oil, demand from other producers has increased, and prices have risen.

Terry Woods, general secretary of voluntary community bus service, the Ivel Sprinter, said: "At the moment we've sort of swallowed it. A couple of months ago our prices rose, and obviously we get a certain amount from the local authority, but it has decreased our profit.

The price of fuel has rocketed recently.

"We try to keep prices as low as we can for as long as we can, but price increase is dictated by increase in cost - not just in fuel, but insurance, maintenance.

"If fuel went up too much, we may end up subsidising [the company] with back up money we've put to one side. We'd look at it carefully."

Ghulam Javed, company director of Village Taxis, Biggleswade, said: "It's affected us big time. The price is almost double now.

"We tried to raise prices in April, but it didn't work; people won't pay. So we had to bring them down and our drivers have worked extra shifts to make up for it.

Village Taxis is based at Biggleswade train station. Photo: Village Taxis.

"We will have to survive. But the way it's going, the government wants everything to be electric, or hybrid. They may also extend the low emission zone to inside the M25, and we will have to pay."

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Russell Gunn, proprietor of Langford Service Garage, said: "I knew exactly what would happen as soon as Russia said it was going to invade. I've been in this game too long, serving petrol here since 1997.

"We are selling less fuel, and making less money - we have to pay tax on credit card transactions. Fortunately for us, we do not rely on the profits from petrol; we are an MOT and repair garage.

"Until the war finishes, no one knows what will happen, but I can see the price going up to £3 per litre.

"Stick to the speed limit, ensure your vehicle has the correct tyre pressure, don't fill up a full tank - that adds extra kilograms - and use air conditioning; having a window open increases the drag."

Ray Morrissey, of Talk of the Town Community Transport Group, Sandy, said: "Fuel, naturally, is a major proportion of our operating costs, so the current prices are going to have a significant affect.

"However, it is difficult to evaluate the effect of the increases in actual cash terms; we are still feeling the effects of the pandemic. Actual usage has not yet returned to pre-covid levels so operating revenue is down anyway.

"It is difficult to gauge when prices are going to stabilise. Our aim is to provide a community service and we’ll continue to do so as long as we can afford to do so."

The Ivel Sprinter is appealing for volunteer drivers: 01767261047.

> Are you struggling to cope with the price rise? Email us at [email protected]