Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Blockades Threat

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Blockades Threat

Article excerpt

Byline: Joanne Emmerson

The threat of fuel blockades by protesters on Teesside heightened today as prices edge daily towards pounds 1 a litre.

Prices at the pumps have been recorded close on 99p at some forecourts in the area.

And in more rural areas garage owners have been forced to charge customers even more.

The Phillips refinery at Seal Sands is expected to be the main target of campaign group, the Fuel Lobby, next Wednesday when truckers threaten to converge on the site if the Government does not bring down tax on fuel.

Campaign leader, County Durham trucker Andrew Spence, is also asking motorists to "stand up and be counted".

"We want to see an immediate reduction in taxation to bring fuel prices down or, as of 6am next Wednesday, there won't be a refinery in the country left open. Every refinery will be blockaded," he warned.

Teesside is expected to bear the brunt of the North-east protest following similar demonstrations in 2000.

Mr Spence said: "This time 26 trucking companies - from one-man bands to fleet operators - have promised to be there. And we have been given assurances that tanker drivers will not cross our picket.

"We also need the public. Every time a conversation about fuel crops up, people say to me they wish they had known when the protests were taking place and they would have joined.

"Now we are letting them know. Now is the time to be there."

Transport company managing director Anne Preston, of Preston's of Potto, calls the present cost of diesel scandalous.

"Nobody can see any reason why prices are so high, except it suits oil companies and the Government to keep them there," she said. "They are blaming anything. The amount of profit fuel companies are making is outrageous.

"The price of derv to us just over a year ago was 62. …

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