Devizes MP Claire Perry has called for a scheme to help car owners in rural Wiltshire with the rising costs of petrol and diesel. Questioned on BBC Radio Wiltshire on Friday (April 20) by Matthew Smith she admitted that the three pence rise in duty due in August would go ahead.
“There’s a question of spending priorities and the Chancellor chose to increase personal allowance to a record level to, I suppose, try to help families that way.” And she pointed out that the coalition government had already spent £4.5 billion cutting previous fuel duty increases.
Mrs Perry said there was a precedent for action to reduce fuel costs for rural communities: “One of the interesting things the Lib-Dems got through in some of their most rural constituencies was a sort of derogation for fuel prices – they were lower in the most remotely populated parts of the UK. And actually in the Devizes constituency we are one of the most sparsely populated constituencies in England. What I’ve been lobbying for is can we have some of those helpful schemes to lower pump prices locally.”
She was referring to a pilot scheme introduced last month that gives a five pence rebate on pump prices to motorists on the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Northern Isles, islands in the Clyde and on the Isles of Scilly. The problem in those parts of the nation is that fuel can cost as much as twenty pence a litre more on the islands than on nearby mainland.
However, when the rebate came in on March 1, some motorists claimed the five pence reduction had already been wiped out by two successive price increases made by suppliers.
Figures released by the Countryside Alliance earlier this month pointed to Ryedale in North Yorkshire and Purbeck in Dorset as the places with the highest pump prices for petrol and diesel. The Tory MP for Thirsk and Malton, Anne McIntosh has been campaigning for a scheme like the islands pilot to be introduced in Ryedale.
This week Ms Milton has had talks with the Chancellor which she described as “extremely positive” and will now meet Treasury Minister Chloe Smith about the finer details of the scheme. It is one thing to pay for a fuel rebate to motorists on islands with no through traffic, quite another for an area that’s simply part of a much wider rural part of the country.
Mrs Perry told Matthew Smith on Radio Wiltshire that “Like everyone going to the pumps, I’m absolutely amazed that it costs as much as it’s ever done to fill up.” And she said the government’s hands were tied: “I know we say it a lot, but there is no money – we have to make choices with how you actually spend government money.”
And talking specifically about discretionary travel, Mrs Perry went on: “We probably all could use the car a little bit less – and perhaps choose not to travel or to use Skype or something to see relations – I know it sounds ridiculous. But those are the choices that we have.”
She did criticise the suppliers for being slow to bring prices down and quick to put them up as the price on the world market fluctuated. And she promised she would keep working at getting a rural rebate. She will be meeting Justine Greening, the Transport Minister, next week to discuss the issue.