Truckers plan fuel protests over soaring fuel prices

Truckers plan a repeat of the blockades of 2008 that brought traffic to a standstill

The spectre of trucks blockading streets in protest at record fuel prices – on top of student and public-sector worker demonstrations – will be raised tomorrow when the haulage industry unveils a campaign to force government to halt rises in petrol duty.

The plans, backed by the Freight Transport Association and others, come amid warnings from the AA that recent tax rises, on top of soaring oil prices, are driving motorists off the road and damaging the wider economy.

The price of crude has risen from less than $40 per barrel to more than $90 over the last two years and many are predicting it could break through the $100 mark within months.

Peter Carroll, a trucker and veteran of previous fuel-price protests, said demonstrations were planned, with vehicles on the streets in London in the run-up to the next budget.

“The road haulage industry is being strangled to death by rises in VAT and fuel tax duties and we are working with everyone in the industry and MPs to get government action,” he added.

Ministers raised fuel tax twice in 2010 and a third time earlier this month. Another rise is planned for April. The price of fuel has also been increased by VAT hikes and the rising cost of crude.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said ministers needed to act immediately to cancel a third proposed fuel tax increase planned for April.

“The government can put pressure on Opec to increase the production of oil, as we saw Gordon Brown do in 2008, but it also needs to scrap plans for the April increase of 1p per litre plus the price of inflation. That was conceived before the latest VAT increase and is totally unsustainable,” he added

The AA, which says the average price of diesel has reached £1.32 per litre compared with £1.33 in July 2008, argues that the wider economy risks being damaged because road transport allows trade, and shopping, to flourish.

King says supermarket petrol stations have yet to pass on some of the 3p-per-litre extra costs from the tax rises, and when they do the fuel price will hit record levels, perhaps as soon as this week. “Mondeo man began to protest when the price of petrol just went up every time he went to fill up,” said King. “Most people recognise the wider problems that led to VAT increases but if they are faced with continual tax and fuel price hikes then we could have that 2000 [protest] effect again.”

Carroll and other hauliers involved in previous protests have launched a new campaign group and website, Britishtruckers.com, which is aiming to draw public attention to their plight and put pressure on government to help.

Their concerns appear to be born out by industry website Roadtransport.com, which reports that seven firms have been driven into receivership over the last month alone. SHL Logistics in Crewe, Transport Resourcing of Southampton and JD Hull Haulage of Preston are three of the latest corporate casualties, according to the website.

The price of truck fuel has been steadily rising alongside the value of crude oil on the global energy markets. The average weekly bill for bulk-bought diesel reached 105.97p per litre, not counting VAT, in the week before Christmas, which is 13% higher than it was during the same period of 2009.

That is not far short of record highs seen in 2008, according to the Road Haulage Association.

Tax makes up around 70% of the pump price of diesel but the basic cost is also rising because of the escalating value of the crude oil from which it is produced. Since the start of the new year, oil on global markets has hit 27-month highs of $92 per barrel and City analysts are predicting it is only a matter of time before it breaks through the $100 mark.

Carroll, a former leader of the TransAction truck lobby group, has recently sold his Seymour Transport business, saying he has not got the commercial scale to operate in such difficult trading conditions, while another former leader of TransAction, Mike Presneill, said he knew of “two dozen companies which have gone to the wall” in recent times.

“This is a terrible time for the British haulage industry. Good companies are going out of business suffering from crippling tax and petrol prices and foreign competition,” said the owner of Kent-based Presneill Tipper Contractors.

Britishtruckers.com is arguing that UK firms are more at risk because of competition from abroad with foreign vehicles able to operate in Britain using cheaper fuel picked up on the continent.

While the UK government has direct control over fuel taxes, it has little influence over Opec and the wider forces that shape the global crude price.

Paul Horsnell, head of commodities research at Barclays Capital, said he had increased his average Brent crude price forecast for 2011 to around $91, from $80 in 2010 and $62 in 2009, adding: “I think we are going to see the price above $100 for periods during this year.”

Oil has been driven up by heavy demand in China but also stronger than expected energy needs in the west. Oil companies are struggling to keep up with demand and their capital expenditure has been ramped up by more than 10% for the next 12 months.

The price of crude is most influenced by what happens at Opec, the oil cartel, which as recently as last month decided to hold back output from member countries, which pushes up the value of oil.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) warned last week that Opec needed to change this strategy because oil prices had entered a “dangerous zone” which could derail the global economy.

The criticism launched by Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the IEA, has been relatively isolated so far, compared with the political furore that was kicked up the last time prices rocketed.

That was 2008, when global crude prices hit $147, British truck drivers took their protests to Park Lane in the centre of London and prime minister Gordon Brown went to Saudi Arabia and pleaded for the oil taps to be opened up.

Pressure from Brown and other world leaders did encourage Saudi Arabia and other Opec members to open the floodgates but those producers are now wary because the $147 price was soon followed by a slump to $40 brought about by the collapse of world economic growth.

This time around, the slow pace of the fuel increases has meant the issue has yet to become a major political story. Horsnell, King and especially Carroll all think that is about to change.

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24 comments on “Truckers plan fuel protests over soaring fuel prices
  1. Peter James says:

    I totally support a camapign to force the government into action, they work for us and not the other way around. Can I say though that ordinary motorists need to get involved as well. For those of us who have to travel in our self funded cars (living in a rural location with little or no useful public transport) we need to stand up and be counted.

    • martin worrall says:

      dont u think the best time 2 have a go slow. so it has maximum impact would b thee upcoming wedding no doubt most of the government will b attending makes sence 2 have a go slow on the m25 happy days!

    • chris says:

      HI THERE I JUST WANT TO SAY THAT I TOTALY AGREE WITH ANY ACTION THAT IS TAKEN TOWARDS THESE SCUM BAG POLITICIANS AND THE GOVERNMENT
      WE THE PEOPLE OF THIS ONCE SO CALLED GREAT BRITIAN NO LONGER EXCIST WE ARE JUST SLAVES TO THE WIDER RICHER ESTABLISHMENT OF THIS COUNTRY
      IM UP FOR ANY SUCH PROTEST AGAINST THIS DIRTY GREEDY SLEEZY SLIMMEY ROBBING SCUM BAGS WE CALL POLITICIANS
      WHAT WE REALY NEED IS FOR PEOPLE TO STAND UP FOR THIS COUNTRY DONT JUST SLAG THIS GOVERNMENT OFF AND NOT TAKE A STAND IF WE CARRY ON LETTING THESE BIG COMPANIES GET AWAY WITH IT THINGS WONT CHANGE WE NEED ACTION NOW NOT JUST ABOUT FUEL BUT EVERY HOUSEHOLD BILL GAS ELECTRIC CAR TAX ITS ALL JUST ONE BIG CONN BECAUSE WE NEVER STAND UP TO THESE SCUM GOT TO TAKE YOUR HAT OFF TO THE FRENCH AT LEAST THEY STICK TOGETHER.
      THATS ALL FOR NOW
      PS I NEVER KNOW WHEN OR WHERE THERE ARE STRIKES PLANNED BUT IF ITS CLOSE ENOUGH AND IM OFF WORK COUNT ME IN

  2. Ian Streten says:

    I am behind any process to bring down the price of fuel. Obviously the blockade proposed by the hauliers will have some effect. The problem is it will inconvenience every motorist with delays to nearly all road users. Many years ago I tried to instigate a campaign where all road fuel users should boycott one particular fuel suppler. i.e Esso and this would create a price war between the fuel suppliers. I understand that this type of campaign was successful in Sweden many years ago. So Peter Carroll can you put your energies into a boycott campaign rather than a blockade

  3. Trevor Sharkey says:

    Funny how under the Labour government , protests came in when the price of petrol was at an astonishing 85p per litre!! Now of course we have a tory government and guess what? Not a protest in sight from their farming etc friends! You hypocates!!

  4. Kal says:

    Totally agree with the need to protest, hubby is LGV driver and at this rate he’ll be out of a job. If the RHA were to support a 3 day “down tools” by transport co’s then the gv’t would have to see sense. I’m sure the majority of drivers would back such action as a way of keeping their jobs in the long run. Good luck to all those who partake in any action that brings about a commonsensical approach to the way the country is run. After all the MPs were employed by us so its about time they worked for us!

  5. Chris Amsdon says:

    My son in laws business DJF Logestics folded due to the constant increase in fuel prices causing the businesses he was sub contracting to deceiding not to use sub contractors. They then found they could not run without the sub contractors, so took them back on at vastly reduced rates which eventually caused the collapse of DJF Logistics. I myself, run a diesel car so have felt the increases in fuel prices and as a pensioner particularly feel the increases. I am willing to join in any demonstrations you wish to organise in the London area as I have been strongly against fuel price increases for years as this is one of the increase that most effects the cost of living. I remember the protests when fuel reached £1 a gallon but as usual did not complain. Look where it has got us now!! PROTEST NOW or loose your business

  6. p.hoger says:

    its not a political dispute… it dont matter who you vote for, if you live in the sticks the fuel price is killing you. us farming lot are up for it. we are going to blockade .

  7. I fully sympathise with the UK Road Haulage companies, and especially with all the competition they have to face from the European hauliers that operate into this country having obtained lower price diesel on the continent. Are we back to the days when you are still in pocket from sending a tractor unit across to France, or Belgium to fill up with lower price fuel to help keep your home based fleet running more economically. As for motorists, with the continuing hike of rail fares commuting by car can make sense as I know only too well, plus the additional convenience of not having to depend on the trains linking with a non-existant bus service to get you to your life long home in the country.

  8. roland says:

    I know it might be easy for me, I’m retired but why not have a day at home, do not,go out at all
    Not illegal do’es not cost anything if you were thinking of having a day of to protest your going to gain No fuel bill no haresment and if it could be do on a big enough scale and organised through the webb maybe ie a do not drive a car day.

    • Carla Smallman says:

      I totally agree with you. If all the people who care about not being used constantly as a government cash cow, were to down tools for just a day or two, this would be far more effective than blockades. Only mass protest will ever change things. I am not a greedy risk taker and or a heavily subsidised politition. Come on British. Lets do it together !!

  9. Chris Watts says:

    I am run my own courier business along with many other one man operations in the uk and the cost of fuel is killing an already extremely competitive market place. How much is it going to cost the government to keep me when I can no longer afford to keep my business going. How much extra is the rise in fuel price going to cost a family without a vehicle as the rise in transport costs and the rise in VAT will be passed on to the end customer in what they pay for their goods? We as a country do not like standing up for ourselves (unlike the French) but unfortunately the only way I can see for this government to take any notice is for some kind of demonstration!!! I know we are still in a recession but let us not forget what caused the recession THE BANKS and GOVERNMENT and these people are not hugely affected by price rises as banks are still getting immoral bonuses and the government get travelling expenses plus other perks i.e. allowances for properties etc etc.
    I have worked all my life and never had a job that will pay you to travel to work!! Its about time they lived in the real world and maybe the title for the next reality tv show should be something like MP’s keeping their families whilst earning the minimum wage for a year.

  10. victor says:

    Come on everybody lets stop hedging the issue. This is just simply hit the motorist (in whatever guise to get more back door tax.
    THE ONLY WAY TO REVERSE THIS IS FOR ACTIONS SIMILAR TO THE TANKER DRIVERS RESPONSE A DECADE AGO.
    HOW LONG WOULD IT TAKE THE GOVERNMENT TO RETHINK THEIR ACTIONS IF THE M25 WAS REGULARLY GRIDLOCKED BY SLOW TRAFFIC (and heathrow was effectivly blockded)
    who agrees with me on this Who would join such action

  11. rob says:

    lets face it ,the price of fuel will affect every single person in the uk,whether you work in haulage,or any industry that uses transport,even if you dont,and just use your car to travel to work and back,and even if you dont drive and use public transport,how do you think buses and trains are powered,the goverment know this and that is why nothing will be done by cameron and cronies,the higher the price of fuel the more revenue the get in taxes,so its time we said enough is enough,they dont put up with this in france,so ill be there at the next protest.

  12. Dave Forbes says:

    The ‘Panic Buyers’ could also contribute to any future protest , along with the media , who always , without fail , hype everything up out of all proportions. The last time any fuel protests took place , petrol and diesel was a mere 84p per litre , I wondered when talk of fuel protests would rise again. Just watched ‘Newsnight’ on BBC2 (13th January 2011) and one of the protest leaders amazed the studio by telling them that this would occur in three weeks , which would mean middle of February. Good on them!

  13. Scott archibald says:

    This I complete disgrace , the situation is becoming intolerable and a complete disgrace , I will be in the blockade 100% and I’m sure everyone else will feel the same .
    To be treated like this by a government who is technically employed by us the tax payer we need to make a stand

  14. p.hoger says:

    we got us a convoy’ this here is the rubber duck we anit gonna pay no toll,let them truckers roll,10 4 . lets show the french how to do it i am up for it, so are the taxi drivers, bikers,farmers and 11 long haired friends of jesus in a shortrupes microbus ive just been told the driving instructors are up for it allso,

  15. Big Al says:

    Totally up for a blockade. Something has to be done. And done quickly. As one of many small business owners, I am constantly under pressure from rising fuel prices. The alternative suggested by the government… Use public transport?? What world are these politicians living in…. Come on mr Cameron, you can carry my tools and spare parts on the buses and trains with me…. I challenge you! Some things simply need a vehicle!

    Also having grown up in agriculture, I know the tight margins farmers operate on, often making a loss once their own labour is taken into account… These price rises are crippling food production here so soon we will all be living on imported food, where is the sense? The public need to support by always buying british, so keeping the markets alive.

    Bring on the protests, I say.

  16. Howard Sellick says:

    I agree with the protest this goverment is going way too fast with reforms this rise in fuel is another backdoor tax hurting everyone and putting anyone off willing to travel distances for employment.
    Does this also include the greedy energy companies and british rail who seemed to jump on the bandwagon, Cameron and is liar deputy need to listen to the British public before they make this country too expensive to live in.
    Anyone reading this article should send it to a friend

  17. pete, cumbria says:

    I have tried to organise some small protests with friends, they never want to be involved in any thing that may help them cause upset, or bring home to the government that which is patently obvious, that living in a rural country area and always paying over the odds for fuel, is a liberty taken by fuel companies and suppliers. Excuses are always the same,e.g a long way from depots, many filling stations are a whole mile away! I digress, small jams at key junctions would be all that was nessessary, when you hear the police coming disperse and move a couple of miles and do it all again, and again,and again. Regards, Pete.

  18. Dave Woods says:

    I live rural,lost my job after 10 years.Jobcentre 20 miles away,no bus service.Been for interviews for employement but told im not suitible for the job i would need to take vehicle home,and as im out of the way,fuel cost would be too much…
    I will be at any protest in my car,this word needs to get out more………….id like to see as much support for fuel price vat to to be changed as there was in the early Poll Tax demonstrations.
    Too add i went LPG to do my bit for my pocket and enviroment,i recently changed my car but did not go for LPG version,as the price of LPG has gone up faster than petrol.
    So why arent the enviromentalists screaming at the government too with us…….

  19. Tam McKinney says:

    I no longer drive HGV and live in Scotland, let me know where and when Scotish drivers protests and I will join in. May have to save up for a gallon of diesel though.

  20. jimbo says:

    if peter carol could have a word with all the big haulers in the uk like .nyk stobart wincanton mtl dhl ups and all the big stores ie tesco sainsbury asda argos john lewis/waitrose and any transport company who employs more than 15 drivers to let all yes all there drivers book a weeks holiday at the same time.and warn the goverment unless they bring down the cost of fuel we will bring them down remember we are the strongest group in the u k but only if we stick together

  21. jimbob says:

    please please lets get these fuel prices down. I am 73 years old still having to work, still paying income tax. and will soon be forced off the road with the cost of fuel road tax and insurance. lets get together

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