BP singled out in 'dump the pump' petrol boycott

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The Independent Online

The "dump the pump" campaign for a cut in petrol taxes called on motorists yesterday to concentrate their protest on an "indefinite" boycott of BP Amoco filling stations, from next Monday.

The "dump the pump" campaign for a cut in petrol taxes called on motorists yesterday to concentrate their protest on an "indefinite" boycott of BP Amoco filling stations, from next Monday.

Gary Russell, the campaign's organiser, said the effect of a boycott on a single company would be harder hitting and more likely to lead to the company taking action.

Yesterday was the second day of a weekly protest during which motorists were being urged not to buy petrol, in an attempt to put pressure on ministers. But most petrol companies did not bother to monitor the impact of the boycott yesterday because of a lukewarm response to the start of the campaign last Tuesday.

Mr Russell, a computer consultant, insisted a single-company boycott had been considered about three weeks ago. He had received up to 3,000 e-mails on the subject and anumber of drivers had recommended BP as the most suitable initial target, he said.

"They are a petrol giant and very rich. If enough motorists get behind this and boycott BP fuel stations, it will get them to take this issue up with the Chancellor directly.

"I feel that we have probably three million motorists prepared to adopt a boycott. With this action directed at one fuel giant, we feel we will be able to get our message across much better." He added: "How long are motorists supposed to compromise our own lifestyle? There are 26 million motorists and, as the price of fuel goes up, we have no option but to buy it."

But BP warned that the main losers in the new strategy would be the small independent retailers that ran most BP petrol stations. "This could drive people out of business," a spokeswoman said.

She said BP had not attempted to assess the affect of yesterday's boycott. Last week's protest had meant a dip in sales of around 5 per cent, but sales for the rest of the week had made up for the loss.

Ray Holloway, the director of the Petrol Retailers' Association, said the "dump the pump" organisers were in danger of confusing motorists as to who was responsible for the UK's fuel prices. "It is not the oil companies or petrol retailers, all of whom have no choice but to apply policies decided by the Government," he said.

"As unpaid tax collectors, petrol retailers support calls for lower taxation," said Mr Holloway, who described BP as an innocent victim. "Fuel taxes are paid to the Government many days before the motorist buys fuel from a forecourt, so not buying today or any other Monday has absolutely no effect on the Chancellor."

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