IT’S a suspicion seemingly held by many local motorists – that Luton drivers are paying more than people elsewhere when it comes to filling up their cars.
With petrol prices going up and up, drivers are keeping a close eye on prices at the pumps, and many are unhappy at what they’re seeing.
Last week one Luton News reader wrote in after visiting Leicester and seeing petrol up to five pence cheaper.
And according to data compiled by consumer website www.petrolprices.com, Luton does have a higher average price for fuel.
At the weekend, the average price per litre of unleaded in Luton was 134.1p, with the cheapest to be found at the Shell petrol stations in Castle Street and Eaton Green Road for 130.9p.
The average price of diesel was 139.0p, with the Shell garages cheapest again at 135.9p.
So how do nearby towns fare?
Watford had an average price of 132.3p for petrol and 137.3p for diesel, and averages in St Albans were 132.6p for petrol and 137.6p for diesel.
In Leicester you can pay as little as 129.9p for a litre of petrol, and in Bristol it goes as low as 129.7p.
But Luton certainly isn’t the worst-off for fuel prices – in Milton Keynes the average litre of petrol is 134.4p.
And pity poor Dunstable motorists, who pay an average of 135.8p for petrol and 140.8p for diesel.
The cheapest petrol there is at Sainsbury’s in Luton Road, where you’ll pay 132.9p for petrol and 137.9p for diesel.
Very little of the price paid is actually determined by the garage, with 60 per cent of the price per litre made up by fuel duty and tax.
The UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA) says fuel retailing is a low-margin business owing to strong competition driving down prices.
But despite this, motorists are at the mercy of where they live, as retailers such as Sainsbury’s say they set their prices according to local levels.
A spokesman for the company said: “Pricing is done in comparison with other local petrol prices – that’s how it’s done generally. It’s set by the market in the area.”
And there are a number of different reasons for the cost variations between different areas.
A Shell spokesman said: “Prices can vary from region to region. If this happens, this is due to a range of factors such as distance from the refinery or distribution terminal to the petrol station ,and the number of customers in the region.
“Greater distance means higher transport costs, while fewer customers means higher margins to cover costs.”
But even if Luton motorists pay more, they can take heart from one UKPIA statistic – that, excluding duty and VAT, fuel in the UK is consistently amongst the cheapest in Europe.
>>Where have you seen the lowest pump price? And should fuel duty be lowered to ease the burden on motorists? Have your say by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org