Urban and rural fuel pump price gap closes

The petrol pump postcode lottery, meaning rural drivers lose out to town and city motorists on price, appears to be coming to an end.

The gap between prices in country and urban areas has closed from around 5p a litre to as low as 2p, according to the AA. This dip in rural prices contributed to a general nationwide fall in the cost of petrol – now averaging 129.63p a litre compared to 130.46p in mid-January.

The lowest petrol price over the last four weeks was 129.30p a litre on February 2 – the lowest average figure since February 2011. Diesel now averages 137.02p a litre rather than 138.24p in mid-January.

The AA said strengthening of the pound against the dollar accounted for much of the drop in pump prices.

Yorkshire and Humberside has the cheapest petrol – at an average of 129.2p a litre – with Northern Ireland the dearest at 130.0p.

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The East Midlands has the cheapest diesel, at 137p a litre, while Scotland has the most expensive at 137.6p.

AA president Edmund King said: 'Across whole towns, for months if not years, drivers and businesses have been charged 4p to 6p a litre more for petrol compared to what retailers charged for the same fuel in neighbouring towns. It was called 'local price-matching' and it was supposed to be consumer-friendly.

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'But without retailers prepared to challenge the inflated status quo, it was a curse and led to complaints.'

He said competition authorities should consider a trigger where places charging 4p or more a litre higher than their neighbours were flagged up to the official watchdog which could then check why that was happening.

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