Fleet News

Fuel duty furore in Ireland

HIGH fuel duty charges in the UK have forced one of the Government's own departments in Northern Ireland to fill up its fleet in the neighbouring Republic to save money. UK petrol retailers have slammed the decision by Northern Ireland's Western Education and Library Board to send some of its school buses into the Republic of Ireland for fuel in order to save money.

But the board says it would be 'insane' for any fleet manager to fill up in the UK when four miles away from its Londonderry base, across the border, savings of about £1 a gallon can be made. WELB, which has a fleet of 300 buses, says it is slashing £2,000 a month from its fuel bills by sending 40 vehicles which operate close to the border into the Republic to fill up.

Brian McClean, chief transport officer for WELB, said: 'We are charged with running vehicles as economically as we can. The savings we are making are equivalent to paying for a new teacher. We have checked the legal position and spoken to Customs and the VAT departments and there are no problems. We are just doing what everyone in this area does. Fleets and drivers would have to be insane to fill up in Northern Ireland when savings are so close.'

Ray Holloway, director of the petrol retail division of the Retail Motor Industry Federation, said: 'I was appalled to learn that in the interests of saving money, school buses are being taken into the Republic and filled there. As it is, petrol forecourts in the province are already struggling because regular motorists are taking their custom south of the border. This move by WELB adds insult to injury.'

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