WMN opinion: Some fuel tax relief cannot come soon enough in Westcountry
Have you heard the one about the unemployed guy from Exeter who finally landed his dream job in Plymouth?
He couldn't afford the petrol to get there!
It's not very funny is it? And the real trouble is, it's not even a joke.
For thousands of people living in the rural Westcountry there is no realistic alternative to travelling by car, whether it be to go to the shops, to visit the doctor or simply to get into work.
Rocketing fuel prices have quite simply been crippling for both family budgets and for the running costs of nearly all Westcountry businesses. If you have any doubt ask any one of the region's excellent hauliers.
So everyone living in the West will welcome news that beleaguered Chancellor George Osbourne is facing increased pressure this week not just to freeze tax on fuel – but to cut it.
This will pressure that will strike a chord with virtually everyone who has had to fill up the car in the past few days. Prices have gone from eye-watering to outrageous.
Petrol and diesel costs in particular are now having a significantly detrimental impact on the rural economy and the quality of life of many people in rural areas.
This week Conservative MPs will table a Commons motion urging the Chancellor to cancel a 3p-a-litre rise in fuel duty planned for September.
Families have already suffered from a 6p rise in fuel prices since the start of the year, and the Chancellor has been warned action to bring tax on diesel and petrol under control is now more important than raising the income tax threshold.
Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, also wants ministers to introduce a fuel discount for drivers in rural areas.
This is a move that has already been considered at Government level for some of the country's most outlying rural areas.
For many of us living in far-flung Devon and Cornwall, some form of relief in the cost of fuel can't come soon enough.
The AA has revealed that the average cost of petrol in the UK is 138.32p a litre. For those still thinking in gallons, that's more than £6 a gallon. Diesel's averaging 145.10p a litre.
Many MP's have already called for a investigation into the way fuel prices are manipulated, but the time has come for whole new look into fuel pricing. It is the Government tax levels that decide the final price we all pay – so it is within its remit to dramatically change that. In the United States motorists pay the equivalent of under 60p a litre for vehicle fuel.
The argument that high tax on fuel encouraged drivers to cut down on car usage – and, therefore, reduced greenhouse gas emissions – is no longer good enough to justify the tax level. Few drive more than they need to.
Also it must be of marginal benefit to the nation to be collecting all this tax when fuel prices are crippling the economy.