Alliance Party representatives, Castlereagh Councillor Michael Long and Strangford Alliance Chair Kellie Armstrong are to hold a meeting today with the Consumer Council to raise their concerns about the use of local pricing policies by petrol retailers which has the effect of pushing up petrol prices in some areas. They want an end to the use of different prices for petrol and diesel by the same retailers and instead see the introduction of regional or national pricing.
Cllr. Long said, “There is a wide variation in petrol prices across Greater Belfast and only yesterday prices ranged from 139.7 pence per litre to 145.9 pence. Clearly it is important that consumers shop around for the best price but we are particularly concerned by the fact that in many cases the same retailer is charging substantially different rates at stations only a few miles apart as part of their local pricing policies. Today we are raising the matter with the Consumer Council and asking that they work with us to campaign for national pricing policies so that retailers are not raising prices in areas where there is less competition.
“Given that recent surveys have shown that Northern Ireland has the highest diesel prices in Europe and petrol prices in these islands, we feel that it is important that we highlight these price disparities. We hope that today’s meeting will be another step in the right direction to ending the practice where some retailers charges significantly different rates in locations which are only a few miles apart where there are clearly no differences in the cost of providing the fuel. We feel that all retailers should adopt national pricing policies rather than local ones so that people across the country are all getting the best deal for their fuel.”
Kellie Armstrong added: “It is amazing to see the change in the price of petrol as you travel from the Ards Peninsula to Belfast with prices in Newtownards consistently up to 5 or 6 p per litre less than in either the Peninsula or in East Belfast. These differences soon add up and can result in consumers paying several pounds more to fill up their tank. Whilst some retailers like Asda charge the same amount across Northern Ireland, other companies do not. In recent weeks, I have seen examples of the same retailer charging up to 4 pence per litre more at some locations than others.”