Page last updated at 13:22 GMT, Monday, 14 April 2008 14:22 UK

Fuel costs force haulier to close

Tim Harper
Tim Harper believes fuel rises affect "every man and his dog"

The owner of a haulage firm which is closing after 14 years due to rising fuel costs has warned that others could be forced to follow suit.

Tim Harper, of Harper Haulage, will auction off his 22 lorries later this month, making about 20 staff redundant in Prestatyn, Denbighshire.

He said it was no longer viable to carry on, and warned that fuel costs would affect "every man and his dog".

Another haulier said it was inevitable other firms would close across Wales.

Mr Harper, who also runs a builder's merchants, said fuel had been rising in price steadily - sometimes daily - and he was "getting out now while I can".

There's a tremendous amount of haulage companies that are hanging on by a thread
Dewi Jones, haulier

According to the AA, the average price of diesel in Wales in March was 115.1p per litre - the highest in the UK - and an increase of more than 23% from March 2007.

Mr Harper said: "It's sad. We have plenty of work, we're very busy and we have a cracking fleet, but it's not economical to carry on.

"The cost of fuel is rising and I can't see it coming down."

Harper Haulage will cease trading on 18 April and the 22 wagons will be auctioned on 26 April.

Mr Harper said he was lucky because the haulage firm was not his only business, but he feared others would also be hit hard, adding: "It's going to affect every man and his dog."

He claimed the firm had received "no help" from the Road Haulage Association, but acknowledged there was little they could do.

Lorries (library)
There's very little we, Alistair Darling or Gordon Brown can do about it
Road Haulage Association on rising oil prices

Another haulier, Dewi Jones, of OJ Jones and Son Ltd in Porthmadog, Gwynedd, said the price of fuel was "escalating at a tremendous rate".

The family firm, started in 1960, operates 12 lorries.

Mr Jones said: "There's no shadow of a doubt that other haulage firms will go out of business. It's inevitable.

"There's a tremendous amount of haulage companies that are hanging on by a thread.

"I think that's what's stopping them protesting at the refineries again - they can't afford a couple of hours off, let alone a couple of days."

Mr Jones said regular fuel cost rises made it impossible to price jobs.

He said: "We're being asked now to price work that won't be starting for a few months and we can't tell the customers what the job will cost, because we have no idea how expensive fuel is going to be."

He added: "This business has been running since 1960. But I have a 13-year-old boy and I'm doing my best to keep him out of this industry."


Mike Greene, of the South Wales Haulier's Association, said he had been forced to reduce his number of wagons from 10 to eight, and drivers across Wales were facing similar problems.

Mr Greene, of Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire, added: "There's a lot of us that have had to cut back.

"The way things are going, we will be closing the door completely, or laying more boys off."

Mr Greene said it cost roughly 600 to 700 per day to run his lorries, but said the rising costs were also hitting "Joe Public" hard.

Geoff Dunning, the Road Haulage Association's (RHA) regional director for the north, dismissed claims the body had done little to help struggling hauliers and said global factors were to blame for the rise.

He said the RHA had been "highly successful" in keeping duty rises to a minimum in recent years, and would continue to push for that.

He said the RHA could only try and help firms individually if help was requested - and he "cannot recall" anyone doing that.

Recent fuel price rises were due to global factors and the price of oil by the barrel, he said, adding: "There's very little we, Alistair Darling or Gordon Brown can do about it".

Mr Dunning encouraged hauliers to deal with their customers more "aggressively," and increase their prices to cover the rising costs.

video and audio news
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