Excessive regulation on fuel and tobacco forcing petrol forecourts to close in Northamptonshire, claims industry association

Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Ten petrol stations have closed in Northamptonshire in the last five years, according to figures released by the Petrol Retailers Association.

The closures equate to a drop of 18 percent, similar to the pattern for the rest of the East Midlands.

The RPA estimates that the closures across the region have led to more than 550 lost jobs.

Brian Madderson, chairman of the PRA, said: “The closure of each petrol forecourt in the East Midlands means the loss of local jobs for local people and has a negative impact on the economy in the area. It is also the loss of a local convenience not just for those seeking to purchase fuel but other every day essentials that so many sites now offer their customers.

“Forecourt retailing is one of the most heavily regulated industries, and as a result our members continue to suffer disproportionally from unfair competition with the big chains and excessive regulations.

“Unfortunately a forecourt retailers’ biggest selling product categories – fuel and tobacco – are the most regulated; and whilst regulation is needed in many cases, the government needs to do more to ensure the impact on businesses is not ignored – especially for the sake of politicking in the run up to the general election. Whilst the larger chains have the resources to cope with these regulations, our independent forecourts don’t.

“The recent consultation into standardised packaging of tobacco products is a prime example. It is not good enough for the Government to simply say retailers “already need to be planning their future business strategies… and thinking about how to cope with all the trends and shocks that are likely to affect them”. Petrol Retailers are increasingly opposed to Government proposals to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products and think it will harm honest retailers because it will fuel illicit trade and people will buy their cigarettes from the black market. Such unproven regulations risk further burdening this industry.

“The PRA is calling on the Government to do more to support retailers during these times of austerity by avoiding implementing onerous and unnecessary regulation. Our members are naturally very nervous about what additional and burdensome regulations lie ahead and the impact these will have on their businesses.”