Rapid closure of independent petrol stations leaving cut-off communities high and dry

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Rapid closure of independent petrol stations leaving cut-off communities high and dry

New figures released by the Petrol Retailers Association reveal that a total of 175 independent garages have closed in the last year, meaning those living in more remote communities are now having to travel miles to fill up.

Independent petrol stations are heading the same way as local shops and pubs, boarded up due to astronomical overheads and fierce competition from larger chains and supermarkets.

Brian Maddison of the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents forecourt operators, told The Mirror: "Local filling stations are vital.

"At this rate, we'll be left with only motorway services and supermarket forecourts."

Around 5,300 garages have shut in the past decade. The problem is particularly prevalent in rural, hard to access areas such as the West Country, Wales, Scotland and East Anglia. North of the border, around 100 closed down between 2010 and 2012, representing a 14 per cent decline and the fastest rate of closures anywhere in Britain.

Industry experts are blaming supermarket chains, which according to data now control 40 per cent of the market.

Competition is so fierce between the supermarket giants that they regularly undercut rivals by subsidising fuel prices with store profits.

Many independents are locked into five-year supply contracts and cannot buy fuel cheaper elsewhere.

Tory MP Robert Halfon, who has campaigned on petrol prices, said: "I am alarmed at the decline in petrol stations.

"Britain is being taken for a very expensive ride by some of these oil companies, who are crushing the independent retailers."