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Christine Jones, of East Grinstead-based P Jones Haulage, says: “We are debating whether to throw the towel in. We have been driving for 42 years. And the government does not seem to want to listen – they are blind.” David Sanderson, chairman of S&S Distribution, says: “If we don’t make a profit, the government does not take the tax. We need some level of growth. Our customers are being pressured by their customers, and this is all because of the high fuel price.
“We are making ourselves uncompetitive [as a country] because if we are to increase our exports, the components need to be delivered. Twentyfive years ago, the Kent Transport Federation used to have 100 members – now we have six. The pallet networks cannot find anyone in Kent because there aren’t enough firms around. There are so many people clinging on by their fingernails. The only ones who survive will be those who did what the last government didn’t do – put money aside.”
Jon Tobbell, commercial director at Hermes, says: “[We are] spending more than £12m a year on fuel and have seen these costs increase by 26% in the past year. It’s impossible for us to try to absorb the additional overheads, so reluctantly we are forced to pass them on to our clients, which in turn results in price increases for the consumer.”