Clearly if a policy is good enough to be announced once, it is good enough to be announced twice.
I would not want to be dismissive of the stories in the media about the government looking at ways of making data about fuel prices at motorway service stations more transparent to drivers i.e. putting up signs with the information before drivers pull off the carriageway. Indeed, that is very positive. But why, one wonders, is there all this fuss today, because this is not just old news, it is positively ancient.
The announcement actually came in the Budget back on 20 March when the Chancellor, or at least the Budget document, said:
“In response to OFT recommendations, the Government will work with motorway service areas and other relevant bodies to improve the availability and visibility of motorway fuel price information for motorway users.”
The Office of Fair Treading reference relates to the organisation’s report, published at the end of January, into the workings of the petrol and diesel fuel sector which concluded that overall the market was working well but raised concerns about the gulf between high street fuel prices and those found on the motorways:
“While these differences may be explained to some extent by the higher costs associated with running motorway forecourts, the OFT is concerned that drivers are not able to view prices until they have pulled into the service station. It has therefore asked the Department for Transport to consider introducing new road signs that would display service station petrol and diesel prices for motorway drivers.”
The conclusion must be that this matter has become news again today because a) at Budget time there were plenty of other stories vying for headlines and b) this latest announcement is being pushed by the Number 10 policy unit and hence the Prime Minister.
Here at the RAC Foundation we would like to think that we – alongside campaigners like Robert Halfon MP and Fair Fuel UK – helped push fuel prices up the political agenda through our transport poverty work and this is part of why the PM is making a song and dance of the matter now (that and the realisation that drivers have about 35 million votes between them).
Of course, there are only so many times the same policy can be announced before drivers demand to see the outcome. Time for words to be turned into action.