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Driving home the point about high fuel prices

Everyone has been feeling the effects of hikes in fuel prices across the country so Observer reporter ELAINE OKYERE went to see just how it is affecting motorists in Harrow.

EVERYONE has been feeling the effects of hikes in fuel prices across the country so Observer reporter ELAINE OKYERE went to see just how it is affecting motorists in Harrow.

DIESEL prices in the UK have risen from an average of 76p a litre in May 2007 to 129.3p a litre this month, while unleaded petrol prices have hit an all time high of 115.8p a litre.

In Harrow, the average price of diesel per litre is 128.8p, while unleaded petrol has gone up to 116.3p per litre - 50 pence above the national average.

On May 27, lorry drivers brought parts of London to standstill with protests about rising fuel costs and the Government's planned 2p tax rise in fuel duty in October. The UK has the ninth highest unleaded price in Europe and the second highest diesel price.

Residents who rely on their cars for work and leisure activities say this is having a real impact on their lives.

Alan Rosten, a cab driver from Pinner, has seen his fuel bills rise in the last year, which has affected his business. He said: "It's much too high. We have the most expensive diesel in Europe and it affects everybody.

"People have got less money to spend but the Government does not listen."

Jed Newham, operations manager at Hearns coaches, in Kenton Lane, Harrow Weald, said: "Contracts are decided 10 to 18 months in advance, but when something like this happens we have to go back to our cilents and ask for more money.

"People do not like it, but they realise that is something we have to do."

Mr Newham said the company was seeing changes in the way people hired coaches as a result of rising fuel costs.

He said: "It's not affecting our business yet, but I think people will start booking shorter breaks to save money. But people will always need to be taken from A to B so I'm not worried."

In Harrow, the cheapest unleaded petrol is at the ESSO Greenhill Service station, in Lincoln Road, Pinner, at 113.9p a litre and the cheapest diesel is at ESSO Belmont Service station, in Belmont Circle, Harrow, at 125.9p per litre.

Susan Hall, deputy leader of the council and environment services portfolio holder, said: "Well I think we are all suffering from the fuel prices. I fill my car up and it seems to rise more and more.

"The fuel in this country is higher than any other country and it shows this Government for what it is."

Tony McNulty, MP for Harrow East, said the Government needed to review the situation later in the year.

He said: "I use my car mainly at weekends and I do find like everyone else it costs £10 more to fill it up with the rising prices.

"Things are changing rapidly and I think with the rising food prices everyone is feeling the pinch and the Government needs to have a look closer to the time rather than react in some knee jerk fashion."

Fuelling the debate

KEDAR GURUNG, 45, an HGV driver from Sudbury, shopping in Harrow, said: "It has gone up quite a lot in the last two years from 83-84p now 114p. I fill up in Harrow and I use my car quite a lot. It's difficult for middle class people. I have three kids and it's really hard."

LIONEL and GLORIA REFSON, of Dove Park, Hatch End are both 70 and retired. Mr Refson said: "We go back to Norfolk and it's costing us a lot more in petrol. I think the Government should stop the 2p fuel surcharge in the autumn. We have the highest prices in Europe." Mrs Refson said: "People that go to work use fuel to get there, but we are retired and we don't have any money coming in to charge us these rising costs."

MARY WASS, 53, school bursar, of Ennerdale Avenue, Stanmore, said: "The prices are just ridiculous. I was paying £56 for my gas and it's gone up to £81 in the last couple of months. I've only recently got a new car and I'm really feeling it at the moment. I've started to use my Oyster to go into town and I walk a lot now."

ANDRE CARTER, 32, student from the University of Westminister, in Watford Road, Harrow, said: "The last few months, prices have gone up and it makes it difficult. The same £10 I used to put in doesn't last as long. I go to University in Harrow and live the other side of London and sometimes I leave my car at home and just catch the tube."

UK's cheapest and most expensive fuel

**Cheapest unleaded: 108.9p (Mansfield)

* Most expensive unleaded: 126.9p (Newport, Isle of Wight)

**Cheapest diesel: 115.9p (Banff, Wales)

**Most expensive diesel: 140.9p (Isle of Mull)

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