PERHAPS they were miffed at not filling up the previous day, but motorists, both private and commercial, were certainly not in the highest of spirits as they faced record pump prices on the forecourt at Selkirk’s Shell station on Tuesday.
The hike in VAT imposed at midnight on Monday, allied to the fuel duty increase of New Year’s Day had conspired to see unleaded petrol retailing at 127.9p and diesel priced up at 131.9p per litre.
“If we were French, we would not be standing for this,” opined Jim McGlasson as he spent £110 topping up the large recycling vehicle he drives for Kelso-based Key Waste.
“We’d be burning bales of hay, blocking ports, doing something, but here, we just accept things,” he added ruefully.
Mr McGlasson’s firm collects and disposes of waste from shops and companies.
“VAT going up to 20 per cent is a double whammy for us because it also pushes up the price of disposing every tonne of waste at landfill,” explained Mr McGlasson. “When that’s included, the cost of running one of these trucks is a staggering £120 a mile ... and all this apparently to help the economy. It’s a nonsense. We need to get people spending again.”
Retired electrician George Marles was in little better fettle after putting £74 worth of diesel in his Mitsubishi Pejaro 4x4.
“The tank was already a quarter full so a full tank will now cost me £100,” said Mr Marles, 75. “I do a little work, but not much and I will definitely be looking to change my vehicle this year ... I cannot afford these fuel prices.
“I do not know how politicians in this country cannot control the price of fuel for the benefit of the voters. That is their job, but it seems our fate is still in the hands of greedy people.
“I despair of the cult of celebrity and greed, and the thought of future generations paying for the profligacy of the banks. I remember that, after the war, my father was wanting to start his business and was told by his bank manager to raise the money he needed by selling his car – which was his only means of getting to work.
“Little has changed in that attitude as far as I can see, yet some politicians are still convinced bankers are the only people with the expertise to get us out of this mess. What a joke!”.
Retired plumber Dennis Henderson was more sanguine, despite noting he would have saved more than £2 by filling up his BMW XI the previous day.
“I think the average motorist can just about absorb the VAT on fuel, but it’s all the other stuff that will add to household bills and stop people using the services of local businesses.
“I really don’t know if the current government has got it right, but I do know that small firms who have to travel far to get to jobs in the Borders, which is so large and rural, will be hit by the fuel prices.”
The fourth member of our random forecourt sample was Nicky Maybury whose husband James is a self-employed industrial design engineer.
After forking out £71 to replenish the family’s Peugeot Boxer, she told us: “Of course we would all like to see the deficit reduced, but while the VAT increase will impact on all Borders families in so many different ways, the bankers are still getting their bonuses and that is really galling.
“My husband must use our vehicle to get to his work and, because we live in Selkirk, this involves extensive mileage. It would be tragic if the cost of living here proved just too high in future for families like us when the real answer is to restore honesty and integrity to our banking system.”