MACCLESFIELD’S motorists are being charged more for their fuel than drivers in neighbouring towns.
Many are travelling to forecourts in Wilmslow and Leek to fill up their tanks for as much as five pence a litre less.
Today, the Macclesfield Express launches an appeal to persuade the town’s service station bosses to lower their prices to the same level as others across the borough.
Unleaded and diesel prices in Macclesfield yesterday (Tuesday, October 7) were up to three pence a litre more expensive than in Wilmslow, just five miles away, and one pence a litre more expensive on average. And just across the border into Staffordshire – a matter of ten miles – Leek motorists were buying unleaded at five pence a litre cheaper.
The price discrepancies did not go unnoticed in the town centre, with many Maxonians saying they shop around for their fuel.
Karen Simm, who works in Macclesfield, said: "I don’t buy petrol in Macc, unless I have to – when the light goes on. If I’m thinking ahead I go to Chelford or somewhere else, because it’s cheaper."
Mum Sarah Burke, who runs sandwich shop Simply Scrummy, on Churchill Way, said: "Last year, it would cost me £55 to fill up my car (1.8 litre Vauxhall Zafira). This year it costs me £70.
"The £60 didn’t seem that bad, but when it hit £70 for a full tank, I couldn’t believe it. I used to take my daughter to the nursery two days a week, but now she’s older we go five days a week. A full tank now lasts about two weeks, when it used to last three. If I could save three or four pence a litre by going further away, a couple of miles to Wilmslow, I would."
Her husband Richard Burke, who lives with Sarah on Victoria Road, said: "We filled up at the Trafford Centre the other day, and paid 105.9p. In a way, the £2.50 we saved (as opposed to filling up in Macclesfield for an average of 109.9) paid for our trip to Manchester."
Keith Lans, 48, of Rugby Drive, Tytherington, said: "Tesco are offering five pence a litre discount if you spend £50 instore. This is not a saving! It’s merely claiming a discount you should already be getting. Tesco get none of my business at all now. I never buy fuel in Macclesfield."
But when pressed for an explanation, the companies behind the prices didn’t seem to have an answer as to why fuel costs more in Macclesfield than other areas nearby.
A spokesman for Esso said it was "a matter for the company how prices are set", but could not give a reason why the Esso garage in Wilmslow was cheaper than five miles away in Macclesfield.
He added: "There are many factors which determine our pump prices. We set the pump prices at our company-owned sites on a site-by-site basis. Retailing of motor fuels is a highly competitive business and we vigorously compete with competition. Fundamentally the market sets prices. We aim to be competitive. Pump prices are affected by changes in many factors such as taxes and duties, international product prices and the £/$ exchange rate. We do not set the prices at Esso branded sites which are operated by independent dealers."
A spokeswoman for Shell said: "Each service station operates within its own competitive environment, so each service station is looked at individually regarding fuel pricing, taking into account a number of different factors different levels of competitive intensity, the proximity of competitors, traffic flows, customer base (local regular customers or transient customers), throughputs, and operating costs".
A spokesman for Tesco, which had a higher price in Macclesfield than Shell, said: "We check the prices at our own petrol stations versus our competitors daily, and we are confident that the local customer is getting a great deal on fuel. As with the vast majority of petrol retailers in the UK, including the oil majors, such as BP, Shell, and Esso, and other supermarket groups, Tesco does not operate with one national price.
"Our clear goal for customers is to endeavour to be competitive on petrol and diesel in the local catchment area for each store. There could be times when Tesco may not be the cheapest in the locality. Over an extended period of time we would expect to offer great value on fuel, with the added benefit of Clubcard points.
"Overall, we believe that Tesco has the best offer on petrol in the market. Every single one of our petrol stations has local competition. If we are not competitive in that locality, then our customers could choose to fill their cars elsewhere."