Lorry and taxi drivers’ fury as fuel costs soar

Ronnie Melling

Ronnie Melling

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WIGAN’S hauliers are having “nightmares” balancing the books because of rising fuel prices.

And they say Chancellor George Osborne hasn’t helped them to enjoy a better evening’s sleep with his decision against arresting pump costs in this week’s budget.

Local taxi drivers too say soaring prices at the pumps are hitting profits.

The Freight Transport Association says that diesel now represents around 40 per cent of annual operating costs for lorry firms compared with a third just three years ago.

The FTA said hauliers would be pleased by the decision to freeze their road tax. But spokesman for Wigan membership Bruce Goodhart said Mr Osborne had squandered a “very real opportunity” to support industry and the economic recovery.

He said: “The high price of diesel is their number one concern. While operating costs have now reached an all-time high, hauliers continue to face pressure from customers not to raise their haulage rates and as a result, balance sheets remain fragile and hauliers vulnerable during this period of weak economic activity.”

Meanwhile, Wigan Hackney Cab union branch secretary Ronnie Melling said the continuing rise in fuel prices was hitting taxi drivers’ take home-pay.

He said that most members for resigned to the Chancellor’s announcement and would have been “frankly amazed” if he had heeded calls for a freeze.

He added: “It is a year since we had an increase in fares and most drivers are reluctant to apply for one but with fuel going up yet again courtesy of the Chancellor if makes me wonder what our members will think now.

“If you are doing £300 a week and you are doing £40 per week in diesel to give you £260 take home pay, this is directly going to effect what you are left to live on.

“Taxi drivers get nothing from the Government but we provide a key service and it is time that was recognised because transport would grind to a halt without us.

“I reckon we are the only form of transport that I know which isn’t subsidised.”