THE first community run petrol station in England is up and filling.

The Upper Dales Community Partnership, a not-for-profit community company backed by North Yorkshire County Council, is now manning the petrol pumps at Dale Head Garage in Hawes to guarantee fuel is available in upper Wensleydale seven days a week.

It took nearly £5,000 in its first day of trading, serving up to 170 customers.

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County councillor John Blackie, who has been the executive chairman of the Upper Dales Community Partnership since it started 20 years ago, is delighted the facility is up and running.

He said: “The filling station provides a vital service to the communities in these deeply rural areas.

“The huge support we have seen this week shows home much people appreciate the effort to keep our local petrol station open.

"In recent years rural filling stations have all but disappeared.

“Hawes retails a million litres of fuel annually to local people and tourists including 2,500 litres a month for our Community Transport service The Little White Bus.

"So you can see how dependent we are on having fuel available every day of the year.”

The Community Partnership has been supported long-term by North Yorkshire County Council.

Council leader Carl Les said: “We fully back this latest venture and are glad to see it get off to a good start.

"The county council is totally committed to the sustainability of our rural communities and continues to develop pioneering partnerships to keep services going.”

During the three-year lease the Upper Dales partnership intends to stage a community share offer to buy the petrol station so the local community can own it in perpetuity, like the growing number of communities which now own their own pubs.

Hawes is so remote it is one of a small handful of communities in the UK which receives a Government a fuel duty discount of 5p per litre – passed on in full to customers – to address the high cost of delivering a tanker of fuel.

If the petrol station had closed, residents would have faced a 36 mile round trip to the nearest alternative full-time petrol station.