Commuting costs in Uttlesford are fourth highest in the UK

THE cost of commuting in Uttlesford is amongst the highest in the UK, according to new figures.

Research by the Countryside Alliance shows that the district has the fourth highest commuting costs out of 381 local authorities across the UK.

The statistics were calculated using current fuel costs and distance to work figures provided in the recent census.

It has led to fears that the viability of rural businesses and communities may be threatened by the spiralling costs of driving.

But MP Sir Alan Haselhurst believes the figures are misleading.

“The truth is that the constituency of Saffron Walden, which makes up a large part of the district of Uttlesford, has got an unemployment rate of just 2.2 per cent,” he said.

Sir Alan added that although trade in the area was down, he believed it was more to do with the struggling economy than people emptying their pockets at forecourts.

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He said: “What the Countryside Alliance has said is not something to be casual about, and it may yet be an issue in the future, but there is counter evidence which paints a slightly different picture.”

The news comes in the wake of chancellor George Osborne’s decision to delay January’s 3p fuel hike until August 2012.

A further 5p increase originally planned for August has been abandoned.

The Countryside Alliance said residents in rural communities were the ones being hit hardest by rising fuel prices, for whom they said cars were a necessity due to long commutes and lack of public transport options.

The figures show that those living in rural areas spend almost �17 more on fuel each month than urban commuters.

Uttlesford’s average monthly commuting bill for November was �86.22 – up 7.7 per cent from �80.09 in January this year – and commuters in the district travel an average distance of 510.63 miles a month going to and from work.