Garage forecourt ceases fuel sales
PUBLISHED: 13:26 11 January 2007 | UPDATED: 10:06 31 May 2010
UNABLE to compete with cut-price supermarket forecourts, a garage in Saffron Walden has stopped selling fuel this week. Debden Road Service Station, which has been operating for 70 years, shut down in preparation for a move to Shire Hill, where it will si
UNABLE to compete with cut-price supermarket forecourts, a garage in Saffron Walden has stopped selling fuel this week.
Debden Road Service Station, which has been operating for 70 years, shut down in preparation for a move to Shire Hill, where it will simply be a garage.
Owner Chris White has been in charge of the business for 24 years and blames the lack of trade on significant undercutting by the Tesco petrol station on Radwinter Road.
He said: "The site here at Debden Road is just getting too old - we need a new roof, new pumps, new everything really.
"It would cost so much money that it wouldn't make financial sense.
"Petrol sales have really dwindled over the last few years and we haven't been making any profit from it, so it's time to sell up and get out."
The move will not create any redundancies as the three members of staff at the service station will all be transferred to the new location.
"Nothing will change apart from us no longer selling petrol," said Mr White, "we're just moving premises.
"The older generation are sad because we offer an old-fashioned service: we put petrol in their car and check their oil level and tyre pressures.
"Tesco is obviously the main reason, but there's no point in me having a go; they're just cheaper.
"It's not just Tesco, every supermarket offers cheap petrol and independent sellers like me just can't compete."
Mr White believes small petrol stations face a bleak future and that supermarkets offering cheaper fuel will increasingly dominate the market.
He said: "You've only got to look around the country, it's not just me. Tony Knight, who runs a petrol station in Newport, is packing up too.
"Over the last 24 years, while I've been here, I've seen seven service stations close."
Mr White, who bought the Debden Road site from a man who had been operating the garage for 45 years, has sold the premises to a housing developer.
Russell Green, Saffron Walden's longest-serving town councillor, said he was disappointed the petrol station in Debden Road would be lost.
"I think it's a very bad thing for the town as facilities like that are extremely useful," he said.
"I certainly hope it's not a sign of things to come for Saffron Walden, as small businesses are vital and a lot of people depend on them for their livelihoods."
Tesco, which has faced widespread national criticism for putting small shops out of business, was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.
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