Chamber urges businesses to back MP's petition for a petrol rebate
Cornwall Chamber of Commerce is urging businesses to back a petition calling for a 5p a litre cut in petrol prices in the Duchy.
St Ives Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George launched the petition earlier this month, saying that he wanted to persuade the Treasury to bring in a similar price cut to the Isles of Scilly.
This follows an announcement that Devon and Cornwall were included in a list of 36 remote rural areas which could benefit from a concession designed to ease the pain on motorists facing the highest costs.
Chamber chairman Kim Conchie said: "The rebate already applies to the Isles of Scilly and we feel that Cornwall is still the poorest county in England and that the combination of a low starting point and the rural nature of the economy mean that we should benefit in the same way.
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"There is such a distance between the east and west of Cornwall and 22,000 VAT-registered businesses, not all of whom are the type of businesses that can Skype.
"A lot of them have to move stuff round the county and further afield to other parts of the country and it all takes longer from Cornwall."
Mr Conchie said he believed the rebate should apply to all rural parts of the country but he said that Cornwall should be a priority because of its low GVA.
At present, 2,000 people have signed the online petition, with letters due to be sent out shortly to filling stations in Cornwall asking them to display paper copies of the petition in order to drum up further support.
Mr George said: "Anything that makes transport costs in an area like this more affordable is good for workers and shoppers and for commerce in general. A rebate would be good for those who need to commute long distances or who have goods to move.
"This is all about moving things in the right direction and creating the right kind of mood music and encouragement for people just to lift some of the heavy burden that I know people are experiencing in the present climate."
He added: "It's August so we haven't really done much to let people know that the petition is there, it's just online, but we will be sending out letters to filling stations with petition forms so that people can show their support."
Mr George said he was also pressing for concessionary travel for 16 to 25-year-olds in rural areas to help them access jobs and education. "It would help to drive the economy and to improve the lives of young people," he added.
The Treasury has said it is most interested in identifying areas where prices were consistently similar to those on the islands that currently fall under the scheme.
Places where prices were consistently lower than those on the islands currently covered are "extremely unlikely" to be included in any extension of the discount scheme.
The rebate would require the approval of both the European Commission and 28 EU members states.
The fuel duty petition can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/s/RXDF6J9.