A COUNTY Durham MP got more than he bargained for after attacking the “unacceptable” petrol and diesel prices across the region – after residents pointed out that he was using extra fuel investigating the issue.

North West Durham representative Richard Holden took to his social media page over the weekend to tell his followers that some locations were charging ten pence per litre more compared to competitors just several miles down the road.

In the post, which garnered hundreds of responses and reactions since it was posted on Saturday (January 8), Mr Holden blasted the cost of rising fuel costs and the disparity between those that sell it – citing that it was affecting his constituencies by more than £5 each time they fill up the car.

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The MP chose to highlight both Tesco and Morrisons for price comparisons, focusing on the Consett and Bishop Auckland filling station from the supermarket giants.

Taking to his MP Facebook page, Mr Holden said: “Tesco and Morrisons have stores in Consett and Bishop Auckland, just 18 miles apart.

“The fuel arrives in tankers that hold 30,000 litres, and are 30 mins apart, so the travel cost difference is minimal.

The Northern Echo: The MP chose to highlight Morrisons for its different fuel prices in Bishop Auckland and Consett. Photos: RICHARD HOLDEN MP. The MP chose to highlight Morrisons for its different fuel prices in Bishop Auckland and Consett. Photos: RICHARD HOLDEN MP.

“Yet the petrol is almost 10p a litre cheaper in one than the other and diesel 5p a litre. For someone who needs to fill up an average car once a week, that makes £5 difference every time.

“So far neither company has bothered to make a reasonable explanation to me as to why this is the case despite me writing to them as far back as February 2020 on this very subject.

“I messaged both companies on Twitter last night and have not had a satisfactory response from either - and no response at all from Tesco.”

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After travelling around a few destinations trying to discover the fuel prices, the North West Durham MP confirmed that he would be raising the issue in the House of Commons, before urging people to fill up at small service stations instead of the fuel giants.

However, the Member of Parliament maybe didn’t envisage the responses that he would get on his post after some criticised Mr Holden for using fuel to investigate fuel prices.

One commentor said: “So you spent more driving yourself back and forth between the two stations than what the price difference is?” while another said: “Wagging your finger at Tesco's and Morrisons doesn't help me, my community or the rest of the North East.”

The Northern Echo: Tesco also came in for criticism from the MP during his 'investigation' into fuel prices. Photos: RICHARD HOLDEN MP.Tesco also came in for criticism from the MP during his 'investigation' into fuel prices. Photos: RICHARD HOLDEN MP.

Although some did criticise him, others supported the MP by saying: “Well done Richard; an MP who addresses local issues alongside national ones - a breath of fresh air,” while another social media user posted: “Well done Richard Holden MP it’s about time this was raised.”

Following the post, Mr Holden clarified his comments by telling The Northern Echo: “There are deep concerns among local people that a lack of competition locally mean that massive supermarket chains are abusing their market position to charge higher prices.

“It is difficult to understand why prices are up to 10p/litre different between Bishop Auckland and Consett when they pay the same level of tax and have very similar other costs.

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“If the supermarkets don’t remedy this issue in quick order, then I’ll be raising this issue in Parliament and with ministers to get something done about it.”

However, Morrisons and Tesco has hit back at the County Durham representative by saying that the prices differ in cities, towns and villages.

A spokesperson for Morrisons said: “In the UK, petrol prices vary from town to town and even neighbourhood to neighbourhood and we will always strive to be competitive in each local area. Occasionally this can mean price differences between different areas open up. We continually review our prices and will look to reduce this difference as soon as we can.”

A spokesperson for Tesco added: “We regularly monitor fuel prices throughout a local area to ensure we’re providing competitive prices for our customers.”

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