THE Government has been asked to do more to level up fuel prices between town and countryside communities.
Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger is urging Ministers to discuss with fuel suppliers ways of reducing discrepancies in pump prices, which he said were piling up extra costs for families in rural areas.
Mr Liddell-Grainger, who represents West Somerset and will be the Conservative candidate for the new Tiverton and Minehead constituency taking in much of the area around Wellington, said motorists were now paying less for their fuel in large towns and on motorways in line with falls in wholesale prices.
But, in rural areas the cost of filling a tank still remained several pounds higher.
Mr Liddell-Grainger said there was a clearly a need for discussion with fuel companies about introducing some form of cross-subsidy - effectively balancing a reduction in prices charged to rural garages through a modest increase in petrol and diesel supplied elsewhere.
He said: “Since the volumes of fuel supplied to supermarkets, motorway service stations, and urban garages represent by far the greatest proportion of all sales, it would only require a minor tweak on the price to release enough cash to support sales in the countryside.
“We all know about the rural premium, the extra cost of delivering everything from broadband to a tin of beans and, indeed, fuel to the countryside.
“But the fact is that this particular issue is entirely capable of being resolved given a little goodwill, and some lightly-applied Governmental stick.”
Mr Liddell-Grainger said rural fuel prices had a compound effect, putting up the cost of everything from shopping trips to visits to hospitals or doctors, yet with country bus services reduced to a skeleton, most families had no option but to keep running a car.
He said: “But the price of fuel is one area where the Government can intervene to relieve the relentless extra costs now being faced by virtually everyone living in rural Britain.”