MOTORISTS fuming at record fuel prices were given some reasons to stop overheating in the Chancellor’s budget.

While drivers might not have been overly impressed with the meagre 1p reduction in fuel duty which came into effect at 6pm last night, Worcestershire is set to get £3 million to mend its pothole-ridden roads.

The surprise cut in fuel duty combined with a year-long delay to the inflation rise planned for next week means consumers will effectively be about 6p better off at the pumps than they would have been, although prices still remain at record levels.

In a bid to stop them spiralling Chancellor George Osborne announced the introduction of a fair fuel stabiliser with the aim of keeping costs down in the future.

That will be funded by an increased levy on oil and gas companies.

The news was met with a shrug of the shoulders by many motorists and Martin Pinches, a director of haulage, storage and distribution company M Pinches and Sons, Blackpole Trading Estate (West), Worcester, said: “It’s a nice gesture and everything is helpful but it doesn’t get to the crux of the matter.

“It’s a step in the right direction but it doesn’t go back to when we broke the £1 barrier.”

Alice Barnard, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, agreed when she said: “High fuel prices and lower disposable incomes mean people living in the countryside are becoming even more isolated.

“A car is a necessity in rural areas, not a luxury. This budget could and should have gone further to ease the fuel burden on ordinary families who are struggling.”

Yesterday afternoon the highest fuel prices in Worcester were 141.90p for unleaded and 147.90p for diesel.

The average was 134.85p for unleaded and 141.42p for diesel.

Speaking to your Worcester News after Mr Osborne made his announcements yesterday afternoon Transport Minister Philip Hammond admitted: “They are not going to make a huge difference to the price of petrol but that is determined by the world oil price.”

When the higher-than-average fuel prices in Worcester were pointed out to Mr Hammond he said: “I don’t know the situation on the ground in Worcester but there is no reason why prices should be any higher than anywhere else.”

When asked whether the Government could do anything to bring prices back in line with other areas Mr Hammond said it could not, saying they should be determined by healthy competition.

With reference to the extra £100 million set aside for repairing winter potholes Mr Hammond said: “Worcestershire will be getting over £3 million.

“The cheque will be in the post in the next couple of days and that will make a real difference to damaged roads.”

We previously reported in your Worcester News how 7,000 potholes on the county’s roads have been repaired since temperatues started to drop in late November.

Councillor Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association’s economy and transport board, said the extra pothole money was “good news” but added that councils across the country faced a £9.5 billion backlog in road repairs.

In other motoring news Mr Osborne announced that the vehicle excise duty car tax would increase with the rate of inflation but added it will be frozen for heavy goods vehicles.