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Issue:- 17/18 March 2010

Fuel prices 'heading for new high...'

JUST when you thought the cost of going to work, picking up the kids and doing shopping could not get any higher, well thanks to Chancellor Alistair Darling, who is still planning to increase petrol duty, come 1 April 2010, this is no joke! The average petrol price across the country is 115.9p for a litre of unleaded and 116.6p for a litre of diesel, according to However, the Treasury is due to add a further 3p* on 1 April 2010. The current prediction is that prices could reach over 120p by May 2010 and that would overtake the previous high of 119.7p back in July 2008. Back in 2008, the high price of petrol was blamed on the surging price of crude oil, the key raw material in petrol, which within weeks of the record petrol price hit its own record of $147 a barrel. However, crude oil is now $78 a barrel, so why the rise? But many are now saying that it is not the petrol companies who are pushing this rise in prices and are even supporting the oil giants. The AA motoring group has warned of a sharp hike in prices in a matter of days and urged a rethink.  The UK Petrol Industry Association said:- "We need to realise that the price of oil is little more than half the level it was at its peak, but thanks to various duties, VAT, etc. this massive rise might be avoidable. Sadly, the weak pound is still a major problem and one that can't be avoided, but the plans by the UK's Treasury can be." Yet Lindsay Hoyle, who is a senior Labour MP on the Commons business select committee, said in the press:- "Motorists are being legally mugged at the forecourt by petrol companies." So who is to blame and can it be avoided? One thing that is obvious is that the economic expansion and recovery is now on a knife point. The increases could easily see the UK back in to recession, if actions are not taken soon.

"The UK is barely out of recession yet petrol prices threaten to rise to record prices seen during the boom of 2008 – shortly before the collapse into recession. If families, drivers on fixed incomes and those on low pay were unable to cope with record prices then, they are even less likely now. Before this wholesale price surge works its way through to consumer spending and hits economic revival, the AA believes the Government should look at what is behind it. With refiners in Europe closing sites or looking to sell them, soaring wholesale prices could drive down demand and weaken the sector further. Political parties have started to jump on the bandwagon of high fuel prices, calling for a fuel price/tax stabiliser. In the AA's opinion, the easiest and quickest stabiliser would be to freeze the fuel duty increase on 1 April 2010."
says Edmund King, the AA's president.

Promoted by an e-petitions  the Prime Minister to Fuel duty reduction, was submitted by David Powell and called for the VAT increase to 17.5%, to be reduced to 15%. It got 169,808 entries at close, within a few days of it going online. said:- "It's about time they listen to motorists! This tax rise is the last thing that our country needs in an economic climb out of recession... more importantly though, can we afford it?" said Brendan from

This problem will escalate in the UK if peak oil prices remain, and will imperil economic growth and cause economic dislocation. Ministers have, until now, refused to take predictions of oil droughts seriously and that raising duties it is putting the UK into a suicidal position. Britain is now particularly vulnerable because it has gone from being a net exporter of oil, gas and coal to being an importer, and is becoming increasingly exposed to competition for supplies. One of our few remaining lines for British oil exploration in the Falklands looking like it will fail because of the way an increasingly unpopular prime minister, Gordon Brown, is being perceived internationally as grabbing Falklands oil. Also, Sir Richard Branson, back in February 2010, and fellow leading businessmen have been warning ministers that the world is running out of oil and faces an oil crunch within 5 years. Is this the time for them to look at help people find alternatives? In the national media, Sir Richard Branson was quoted saying to ministers:- "Don't let the oil crunch catch us out in the way that the credit crunch did."

Email us your views on this topic to our newsroom email address at:-

* Fuel duty on 1 April is due to increase by inflation + 1p, potentially 2.5p to 3p on the pump price of a litre of petrol and diesel.

Fuel Price Report by AA:-

January 2010 -
February 2010 -


BEST selling author Joanne Harris will be signing copies of her brilliant new novel 'Blueeyedboy', on Wednesday 14 April 2010 at the Formby Pool Cafe from 12.30 to 1.30pm. If you want to reserve a book get in touch with Prichards of Formby on 01704 875 765 or visit the shop on Brows Lane, Formby village.

Also taking part will be the fantastic The Chocolate Cellar  who are from Liverpool, are also in the village on 20 March 2010, with a pre Easter try and buy Choc Day and our tie in with Joanne's Chocolat DVD and book. So head on down to find out more!

For more book signings and other book related events please see the Prichards advert page  on Mersey Reporter. Also for information about the The Chocolate Cellar visit their advert page  on Mersey Reporter.

Are you the next James Dyson? Innovation First launch Robotics Challenge for Schools

CHESHIRE based Innovation First invite local schools and colleges to be the first in the UK to try out VEX Robotics and win TWO kits, worth £250 each, for their establishment... the perfect opportunity for budding engineers to try their hand at building a robot.  The VEX Robotics programme gives students the chance to learn and develop their interest in science, technology and engineering; all industries that are rich with career opportunities. The kits can provide an engaging and fun experience for the students and encourage teamwork, leadership and problem solving. Educators could potentially incorporate VEX into the national curriculum and projects can easily be customised to students' ability levels.  Ian Laugher, Innovation First UK Managing Director comments:- "We are passionate at Innovation First about VEX and believe that ultimately it will, in a small way, help address the issue of future shortages of skilled engineers"  VEX Robotics can be found in middle schools, high schools and universities in 20 countries around the world. To celebrate the launch into the UK, Innovation First is offering 12 VEX Robotic Kits to SIX education establishments (two each) and a workshop on VEX Basics to get them started. The second stage of the competition is for the students to build a robot capable of undertaking a pre-defined task to be demonstrated at a VEX Robotics event in June (date & location to be confirmed). The winning team will be presented with a trophy and a larger VEX Robotics Kit worth £500 for their school. Each participating school will get to keep their VEX kits. A panel made up of four local business people will be invited to judge the contest. To become involved and be in with a chance of winning the VEX Robotic kits and a place in the VEX Robotics event; Innovation First is asking for applications from education establishments.  Email:- for an application form; the closing date for completed entries is 26 March 2010. Winners will be notified by 12 April 2010. Entry into the competition confirms the education establishment will commit to the workshop and to take part in the Regional VEX Robotics event in June.

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