DRIVERS claim a postcode lottery at the pumps is fuelling their anger.

Motorists in Oxfordshire last night hit out after an Office of Fair Trading report into the fuel industry played down claims of varying prices and independent garages unable to compete with supermarkets.

Last night the Oxford Mail found fuel prices in the county varying by up to 13 pence with petrol on sale for 130.9p per litre in some places, and 143.9 per litre at the M40 Oxford Services near Wheatley.

But the report by the Office of Fair Trading played down claims of price differences between neighbouring towns, and dismissed claims independent traders were failing to compete with supermarkets.

Private hire driver Richard Barlow, 59, said: “Down near Swindon you can get petrol for £1.27 or £1.28 per litre, so why is it £1.34 in some places? It just doesn’t make sense.

“I don’t know how they have come up with these findings, it’s crazy that they can say there’s nothing in it.”

He said he would rather pay higher car tax than pay duty on petrol, and said drivers were hit twice by the taxman.

According to comparison website last night, a driver can fill up with unleaded for 130.9p a litre in Banbury, but motorists fuelling their vehicles a few miles away in Bicester have to fork out between 133.9p and 135.9p.

Steve Radband, who runs Bampton-based SJ Radband Haulage Ltd, also reacted with anger to the report.

The 50-year-old said: “I think it’s ludicrous that these people think it’s fair.

“If you got fuel from a Texaco in Witney and then from a service station, I guarantee it would be about six or seven pence difference. How is that fair?”

The report said the OFT had received complaints about discrepancies between neighbouring towns, but the evidence showed “it did not appear that price differences were as great as those complained of”.

It said independent retailers had complained they were unable to compete with supermarket and oil company-owned sites.

But it added: “We have not at this stage received sufficient evidence of any practices being used against independent dealers to justify investigating these allegations further.”

It also said it had found “limited evidence” of prices rising quickly in response to an increase in the price of crude oil, but falling slowly after a decrease.

OFT chief executive Clive Maxwell said: “Our analysis suggests that competition is working well, and rises in pump prices over the past decade or so have largely been down to increases in tax and the cost of crude oil.