'They're being a bit miserable - we could have done with at least 10p off'

Motorists
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Indy Politics

Despite his cuts and concessions, most motorists simply scoffed and shrugged at Gordon Brown's efforts. "It's just not enough," said Jay Preston, a 45-year-old fishmonger. "They're being a wee bit miserable about fuel prices, and 3p is not much. We all could have done with at least 10p."

Despite his cuts and concessions, most motorists simply scoffed and shrugged at Gordon Brown's efforts. "It's just not enough," said Jay Preston, a 45-year-old fishmonger. "They're being a wee bit miserable about fuel prices, and 3p is not much. We all could have done with at least 10p."

Standing nearby on the BP forecourt on Ferry Road in Edinburgh, a few miles south of Mr Brown's constituency, Norman Hodgson, a vending machine operator, leapt to agree with Mr Preston's judgement.

The Chancellor's freeze in fuel duties, cutting the cost of petrol by 3p, was "a laugh", Mr Hodgson said. "I think this is going to come back to haunt them. I would have thought a 15p reduction would be far more reasonable. It's not going to make very much difference to the haulier and I'm behind them if they protest again. It will cause me chaos but I don't care as long as they make their point."

At petrol stations across the country came the same reaction. Far from winning over the most critical audience of this year's Budget, the motorist, Mr Brown appeared last night only to have deepened their cynicism.

Only Clifford Phillips, 68, a black cab driver from Reading who has driven taxis in London for 44 years, applauded the measures. "I am pleased the fuel tax is going to stay the same because it has been going up and up. The Budget is good for the lorry drivers as well."

The Chancellor will hope that most motorists will be as positive as Mr Phillips or as pragmatic as John Bhai, 45, a shopkeeperin Edinburgh. "It doesn't really make a difference," Mr Bhai said. "People queue up for petrol whether it's sky-high or not. I hate to pay for it but at the end of the day it's a necessity and a fact of life. I don't even look at prices 99 per cent of the time. If you need fuel, you need fuel."

Michelle Honeyfield, 27, a primary school teacher from Reading, was neutral. "I will continue to put petrol in my car for the foreseeable future because public transport is not good enough. It will take quite a large hike in the fuel tax for me to stop using my one-litre Nova."

Jill Body, 50, a book distributor and director of the Brecon Jazz Festival, was far less charitable. Based in rural Powys, she drives 12,000 miles a year and spends £30 to £40 a week on petrol. Her Audi 90, although a gas guzzler, is essential in an area with no bus services and no trains.

"There was absolutely nothing in the Budget," she said. "It will help farmers around us a bit, but for the rest of us, he might just have not said anything. I sat through the speech saying, 'Come on man, give us something.' Now I feel quite fed up and wish I hadn't watched it.

"Drivers in rural areas lose out in all sorts of ways - the high price of petrol, no street lighting, poor road surfaces. We always seem to be last in line."

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