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Clegg dashes hopes of fuel cost help for motorists


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Nick Clegg has downplayed the prospects of introducing a fuel duty stabiliser to curb rocketing prices that are squeezing Westcountry motorists.
The Deputy Prime Minister said he understood the "huge pressure" families were feeling, pointing to the fact it cost £80 to fill his people carrier last weekend.
But he questioned whether the Treasury could find a "workable" mechanism to keep fuel prices down, arguing it is not as simple as many argue.
His comments, made at a lunch with regional journalists, strike a more pessimistic tone than those made by David Cameron, who has put pressure on officials to find a way to ease the tax burden on motorists.
Mr Clegg said: "We have been very open about the fact that if we can find a way of making a fuel stabiliser work, we will seek to do so.
"But we don't yet know whether it is as workable as some people claim."
A fuel stabiliser would mean that, when the price of oil went up, the proportion of tax would go down, maintaining a steady price for consumers.
He said: "The idea is simple. If you have a sharp spike in oil prices, the burden is shared between the motorist and the Treasury.
"But equally if there is a great slump in prices the Treasury still gets its fair share.
"From the motorists point of view you still have a steady and reliable, predictable increase in prices rather than these very volatile spikes."
He went on: "I filled my Ford Galaxy last weekend and it was over £80. It takes you back. So this is a huge pressure for people. We are looking at ways of trying to do this but we haven't yet been able to conclude that work.
"There are great computers whirring away in some dungeon in the Treasury."
Earlier this week, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson was the latest politician to call for fuel prices to be kept in check.
Mr Johnson, whose family owns a remote rural home on Exmoor, said motorists in rural areas with poor access to public transport were getting "clobbered".
Mr Clegg also defended the deep cuts to local Government budgets initiated by the Government to help tackle the deficit.
Devon County Council and Cornwall Council have both spelled out deeply unpopular cuts programmes as a result of 27 per cent across-the-board funding cuts over the next four years.
But Mr Clegg said that while the local government settlement was "one of the toughest in living memory", councils have also been given increased powers to borrow money, for instance.
He said for the first time councils will be able to borrow against projected revenues of business rates for big developments.
He said: "They are not constantly having to wait for hand-outs from Whitehall and not constantly having to hand on bad news if there is a bad or strict local government settlement."

taken from Cornwall news, Jobs, Sports, Cars, Homes | This is Cornwall