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Fuel station boss slashes prices

PUBLISHED: 09:32 02 December 2008 | UPDATED: 21:55 05 July 2010

Bargain-hunting motorists flocked to an East Anglia petrol station yesterday after its manager slashed his prices in protest at a 2p-per-litre rise in government duty.

Bargain-hunting motorists flocked to an East Anglia petrol station yesterday after its manager slashed his prices in protest at a 2p-per-litre rise in government duty.

Chris Woodruff, who runs the Jet service station by the A12 at Darsham, in north Suffolk, believes his prices were the cheapest in the country after cutting the cost of petrol and diesel by 15pc.

He was offering petrol at 79.9p a litre and diesel at 93.9p a litre for the first 10,000 litres sold - a move expected to cost him about £1,000 in lost profit.

“We wanted to highlight the amount of money the government is getting in taxes,” said Mr Woodruff, 35. “Duty probably amounts to 60 or 70pc of the raw pump price; then you've got VAT. It's a double tax.

“Our profit margin is about 2.5p per litre and we're basically paying the VAT on the customers' fuel.

“We're practically giving it away. It will probably cost us about £1,000 in lost profits but we wanted to make a point.”

From yesterday, motorists were paying an extra 2p per litre in fuel duty - effectively wiping out a 2.5pc cut in VAT, from 17.5pc to 15pc, announced last week.

“In rural Suffolk, we don't have a network of public transport so whenever the government puts up fuel duty it hits hard,” added Mr Woodruff.

He estimated his forecourt was four times busier than usual as people queued to take advantage of the cut-price fuel.

The demand was so high he was forced to revert to normal prices after lunch after selling more than 11,000 litres at the special price.

“We haven't had it confirmed but I can't believe anywhere would be selling fuel any cheaper,” Mr Woodruff said. “It's below cost price.”

According to the AA, yesterday's national average price of petrol was 91.5p a litre, with diesel at 106.7p a litre.

Pensioner Douglas Cracknell, 83, of Cransford, Suffolk, was among those taking advantage of the cheap fuel on offer.

“I think it's wonderful,” he said. “You don't often get a bargain like this.”

Refrigeration engineer Michael Flint, 54, of Bramfield, Suffolk, said: “I drive 50 miles to work and back every day. This is a great help.”

Louise Doherty, from fuel campaigning website Petrolprices.com, said: “I think it is really admirable someone is taking such a stand.

“We had a blog about the duty on the website which received 10,000 comments so there is a lot of public feeling about this and it is just nice someone is saying 'it is going to put me out of pocket' but still doing this.”

A Treasury spokesman said yesterday: “The proposed 2p per litre increase in fuel duty was deferred earlier this year to support motorists during a period of record oil prices.

“However, pump prices have now fallen by over 20p per litre since July and the reduction in VAT to 15pc will mean fuel pump prices will remain broadly unchanged after today's duty increase.

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