Leader: Fuel prices

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YOU can almost feel the money draining from your pocket as the counter on the petrol pump spins round faster and faster.

But you don’t have to be a hard-pressed motorist to be affected by the price of oil, we are all in one way or another a hostage to decisions often made on the other side of the world.

Whether it is the rise in the cost of your bus or train ticket, groceries, or heating bills, it is impossible to avoid and is there for you to see in black and white on your bank balance. The AA predicts that sterling’s slide against the dollar, coupled with market speculation, could push prices on the forecourt to record levels by Easter.

Few will take the time to understand the reason why it is happening but as the Evening News finds today, prices are already hitting eye-watering levels in some places in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Petrol has risen by an average of 6.24p since early January, adding £3.12 to the cost of filling a typical 50-litre tank.

Clearly, pressure is being put on the UK Government and the Chancellor in particular to cancel the planned rise in fuel duty later in the year, which may provide some respite but will do little to solve the immediate 

The Office of Fair Trading found last month that Britain would have some of the cheapest fuel prices in Europe if ministers had not raised taxes so much over the last ten years. It did, however, decide not to launch an inquiry into the 38 per cent rise between June 2007 and June 2012, and you feel a tax cut is about as likely as an overflowing bin being emptied in Edinburgh.

The city council has taken an important step by choosing a hybrid car for the Lord Provost, while the plans to increase the number of charging posts across the city will also make owning an electric car an option for more people in the future.

But while it is good to see the council leading the way, the cost of such a switch makes this simply unrealistic for the vast majority of families. Instead, the message for the majority today has to be to shop around – whether for your petrol or groceries – for the best deal. Just don’t drive too far.