Drivers feel fuel’s pinch

HIGH PRICES

CASH-STRAPPED local motorists are feeling the pinch from paying some of the highest fuel prices in the state.

The latest NRMA survey of 53 regional locations in NSW and the ACT paints a bleak picture for North West drivers.

Armidale has had, on average, the fourth-highest unleaded and second-highest diesel prices in the past week.

They have been slugged an average of 160.9 cents a litre for unleaded petrol – a staggering 12c a litre more than Orange, the state’s cheapest location.

The news is little better for diesel users, with motorists paying 168.9c a litre in Armidale, compared to 156.5c a litre in Sydney.

Out of the local centres surveyed, Inverell residents enjoy the most competitive prices for unleaded, at 153.2c a litre, ranking it the fifth cheapest in the state.

Tamworth drivers have been paying an average of 157.9c a litre for unleaded during the survey period, making it only the 29th cheapest.

Armidale small businessman Rob Taber, who runs New England Solar Power, said the city’s chronic high fuel prices were hurting the community.

The Armidale Dumaresq Ratepayers Association member said he believed a lack of competition from independent outlets was largely behind the high prices.

“We’ve had a lot of service stations close in Armidale over the last 20 years ... and until such time as we get a lot more competition in this town, we’re going to have to continue paying the price,” he said.

“Fuel in Armidale has been a real problem for a long time. At the end of the day, that’s also stifling business in this town.

“There are issues that we have to sort out in this town and fuel is certainly one of them.”

NRMA president Wendy Machin said independent service stations were vital in keeping pressure on the Woolworths-Caltex and Coles-Shell outlets.

“They are the ones pushing down the price of fuel and the NRMA supports the important role they play in making the petrol industry competitive,” she said.

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