Nick Bielby, 14 September 2015

Maitland has slipped to 40th in the list of the cheapest average unleaded petrol in NSW, according to the latest figures.

After it recorded the cheapest average petrol price in the state for two consecutive weeks, a 20c/l blow-out meant Maitland plummeted down the ranks for the week ending September 13, with an average price of 139.2c/l.

While the fuel price in Newcastle also soared to 140c/l last week, a ­comparison between several service stations in the Newcastle and Maitland areas on Monday revealed that ­unleaded petrol was up to 12c/l cheaper in Newcastle.

Driving instructor Graham Laney said huge fluctuations in fuel prices put financial pressure on businesses like his, Pothole Driver Training, which depended on fuel.

“I know that fuel companies put almost an excise on the price of fuel to cover transport, but obviously the ­proximity of Maitland to Newcastle … [that] it wouldn’t be a significant component of the price,” he said.

“It obviously has a dramatic effect on people who live in Maitland because the majority of households have more than one car and the majority of people, hopefully, have employment, so they need to get to and from work.

“In my business, if affects the profit-loss margin because I can’t vary my prices in accordance to the cost of fuel.”

NRMA president Kyle Loades said the 20c/l spike in the price of petrol was unacceptable.

He said Maitland motorists had a right to expect greater consistency in petrol prices.

“In this instance, a rise of some nine cents might have been acceptable,” Mr Loades said.

“Maitland had the best prices in the state last week. Now it’s ranked 40th.

“There’s no point artificially ­lowering prices only to drive them up so high the next. The oil companies are ­toying with consumers.”

Mr Loades has previously encouraged motorists to avoid filling up their vehicles at service stations that sell fuel for unreasonably high prices.

Extracted in full from the Maitland Mercury.