Convener writes to Treasury Secretary

Approval of a fuel discount scheme for the Western Isles and other areas has been welcomed, but there is also concern about the escalating prices of fuel.

The Convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Cllr Alex MacDonald, has welcomed the step forward for a 5p fuel reduction scheme for Island areas but is questioning whether the scheme will actually benefit consumers in the light of prices already going up at Western Isles garages. Mr MacDonald has written to Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander suggesting that an alternative scheme could prevent such price rises through a maximum 5p per litre price differential between island and mainland garages.

Mr MacDonald said: “A 5p reduction for consumers would be very welcome but already fuel prices have gone up at many Lewis garages by 3p per litre. I’m not blaming the garages for this but I think questions need to be asked of the distributors as to whether or not they are doing this because of their anticipation of a 5p reduction in prices. There’s no point in reducing fuel by 5p a litre if the benefit is lost overnight and the consumers continue to pay inflated prices. The same thing happened when the Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, visited the Western Isles a few months ago and there was anticipation that he would announce the scheme. Almost overnight prices went up by 4p a litre. The real test of this scheme will be whether or not people in Island areas get the benefit of lower prices and one way to ensure that would be to introduce a scheme whereby there was a 5p maximum price differential between Island and mainland fuel retailers. Whatever the Scottish average, prices on the Islands would not go more than 5p higher per litre.”