PETROL and diesel prices in Alnwick are dictated by competition – or lack of it – bosses behind the town’s only filling station have admitted.
Readers contacted the Gazette again this week to complain about the ongoing disparity between Willowtree Services and forecourts elsewhere in Northumberland, with the cost of a litre of unleaded fuel differing by as much as seven pence, or nearly 33p a gallon, between Alnwick, Berwick and Morpeth.
As of Monday, the cheapest place for unleaded between the three towns was at Morrisons in Berwick, at 128.9p a litre, followed by Tweedmouth Asda at 129.7p. Alnwick’s nearest local rival, Motorcare in Amble, came in at 132.9p.
By comparison, Willowtree Services – which is run by The Co-operative and supplied by Total – had a price of 135.9p.
The Co-operative’s other filling stations in the region were also cheaper. At Rotary Way in Gosforth, it was 133.9p, the same as at Moorfarm near Cramlington, while its Prudhoe station was charging 134.9p.
One former customer, who now refuses to fill up at the Alnwick garage, said: “It would be bad enough if the offending business was owned by Rupert Murdoch, but the ‘caring, sharing’ Co-op? An organisation originally started by the workers to protect themselves from the grasping capitalists? They are now holding this community to ransom.
“It is perhaps significant that they no longer use the ‘caring, sharing’ description. It’s now ‘Good with Food’, but perhaps it should be ‘Cruel with Fuel’.”
The Gazette contacted The Co-operative to ask why prices remained high in Alnwick, compared to other parts of the county.
A spokeswoman said: “In common with other retailers, The Co-operative’s fuel prices differ across its store network.
“Prices at each filling station are reviewed daily, depending on factors including local competition and the effects of fluctuating exchange rates and wholesale oil prices.”
Alnwick county councillor Gordon Castle said: “Given the nature of The Co-operative’s historical relationship with its customers, this is very disappointing and extremely frustrating.
“There are other parts of the country where distribution costs play a part in high prices, but it’s now clear that The Co-operative is taking advantage of the lack of competition in Alnwick.”
PRICES WITHIN 20 MILES OF ALNWICK
Station Unleaded Diesel
Asda Ashington 128.7 137.7
Morrisons Morpeth 129.9 137.9
Shell Ashington 129.9 138.9
Fairmoor Morpeth 130.9 139.9
Stannington Services 130.9 139.9
Motorcare Amble 132.9 140.9
CO-OP ALNWICK 135.9 142.9
Station Unleaded Diesel
Rotary Way Gosforth 133.9 141.9
Moorfarm Cramlington 133.9 142.9
Prudhoe 134.9 142.9
ALNWICK 135.9 142.9
Prices checked Mon, January 9