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Can you afford petrol any more?

I have just watched the BBC lunchtime news and they had coverage of the record price of petrol and diesel. It included a live outside broadcast link to a garage in Leeds.

Well, no disrespect to Leeds but while the reporter was talking buses were passing along the road behind him.

That's a bus.... an omnibus. I might even have to describe one for many of our more rural readers.

Yes, the good people of Leeds have alternative transport available.

Lots of buses and even trains - again I might have to describe a train to someone living near to the empty trackbed of lines long since closed in West Cumbria.

I live in Cockermouth and I work in Penrith and Carlisle.

I don't work fixed hours and I do try and share travel wherever I can. Yes, I do drive a large car - driving and cars are one of my few passions - and I make no apology for refusing to forsake the Jaguar for something a little more frugal.

So, while I can probably stand the hike in prices although you will forgive, the occasional whinge, I know there are lots of people in this area who will be cutting down on food just to be able to afford to drive to the shops.

Already our beloved Chancellor of the Exchequer has ruled out freezing fuel duty and we can look forward to more price rises in the weeks and months to come because of his intransigence.

But what the residents of that lovely Home Counties village known as Westminster fail to recognise is that in the more remoter parts of this country a car isn't a luxury its a necessity.

Let's take a real example: You live in Dean and you need to visit the Doctor in Cockermouth. Options: well, if its Wednesday you can catch a bus. Only runs on a Wednesday at either 1002 or 1417. So, there you have it.

Be ill on a Wednesday or suffer.

And don't anyone start off by saying if you can't afford to live in the countryside then don't live there.

I know many of our local villages are chock full of second homes, ownership of which has destroyed the local school, post office and pub, leaving nothing of any use to real people who live there 52 weeks of the year, but there are also people who live there who have always lived there.

People born in the village who's children could never afford to stay there and who are now alone save for the Hoorays who visit 3 times a year and
complain that there is nothing in the village and it always rains.

What about the people who actually work in the countryside?

I know the Hoorays think that the green bits are created by Disney for them to look at and tramp all over (when it isn't raining) but that green bit provides food for the table and producing it needs muscle.

Maybe not as much muscle as it once did, unless your muscle is called John Deere or Massey Ferguson, but we still need people to work on the land.

Yes, its okay for the Hoorays and their Chancellor because they have an alternative - frequent and relatively cheap public transport while we have to rely on our cars just to get to those essential services city folk take for granted.

Let's tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we matter and let him hear our voice loud and clear. And if he doesn't listen, let's get one who does.


By Ashley Tiffen
Published: March 2, 2012


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