Soaring petrol prices 'force car use cutbacks'

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The Independent Online

Near-record petrol prices are forcing families to cut back on car use and other expenditure, a survey revealed today.

Average prices at the pumps over Easter reached 119.46p a litre - falling just short of the record of 119.7p, it found.



However, average prices of 120.3p a litre were recorded in the Southampton area, while motorists around Guildford in Surrey were paying as much as 120.1p a litre.



The AA/Populus survey, of 17,480 AA members, showed that 67% were cutting back on car use, other expenditure or both.



This compared with a figure of 61% in November 2009 and 66% in November 2008.



AA president Edmund King said: "Soaring pump prices have fuelled inflation in recent months and UK petrol sales were down almost 10% in the last quarter of 2009.



"Over the weekend, some retailers who had put prices up 2p a litre, in line with the increase in duty and other costs, brought them back down. Such is the knife-edge between what drivers can and cannot afford to spend on fuel."



He went on: "That same knife-edge is what will produce some sharp exchanges for parliamentary candidates on the election trail.



"The AA/Populus surveys have in the past shown the Government taking half the blame for rising fuel prices. However, the AA voter will be looking to see how other parties respond to the burden of petrol prices soaring to a new record."



RAC motoring strategist Adrian Tink said: "It's now when, not if, petrol prices hit record levels. The latest fuel duty rise has put us on the edge of the record and the ominous rise in oil prices over the last few days will definitely push prices over it.



"This is a dark time for motorists, with the worst affected virtually paying £6-a-gallon for fuel.



"These rises are indiscriminate in who they hurt, from families to businesses to consumers - these rises hit us all.



"The real fear is that, if oil prices continues to rise, we'll have a perfect storm of high fuel duty, a weak pound and an increasing oil price - that could be disastrous. It's time that something was done by both the energy companies and the Government to protect motorists."

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