Record year for community-owned Dales garage with fuel sales of £1.5m

Cars queue at Dale Head Garage.

A community-owned Dales filling station has had a record-breaking year thanks to fuel prices that rival – and often beat –  the supermarket.

With diesel costing 1.225p a litre, community-owned Dale Head Garage, in Hawes, is cheaper than many Asda, Tesco and Morrisons – despite the supermarkets this week lowering their prices due to a price war.

Petrol, which costs 1.195p a litre, is also as cheap as many of the national chains.

The low prices mean motorists are travelling long distances to take advantage, with some coming over the border from Cumbria just to fill up.

With the queues sometimes stretching down the road into the Market Place, diversions have been needed to keep traffic flowing.

The filling station, which still runs a monthly credit account for locals, became the first in England to be run by the community when the previous owners sold up in November 2017.

This means the garage doesn’t have to make big profits and can keep prices low.

Because of its rural location, the filling stations also benefits from the Government’s 5p a litre rural fuel rebate scheme.

Cllr John Blackie, chair of Upper Dales Community Partnership (UDCP), the not-for-profit community company which runs the filling station, said turnover for the last 12 months had been around £1.5m – double that seen by the previous owners.

The filling station was now taking delivery of 30,000 litres of fuel every five days with a tanker coming all the way from Ellesmere Port on Merseyside.

“It’s been an incredible success,” said Cllr Blackie, who is responsible for buying the fuel and setting the price.

“It’s been such a success firstly because the local community is very supportive of what we do and secondly being from the Upper Dales they are very keen on a bargain, and it’s definitely a bargain.”

Cllr Blackie said they study the prices closely to make sure they are not losing money, but he added: “If the wholesale price goes up I’ll wait a week to see if it was just a one-off before increasing the price.

“We don’t rush to put the prices up but we certainly rush to decrease them if the price to us drops.”

The low prices have changed people’s shopping habits locally, according to the councillor.

“Perhaps previously people would got to Tesco at Catterick to do their shopping on a Saturday and fill up before they come home

“Now people come to Hawes and maybe go to the Spar or the grocers Elijah Allen, then perhaps have a drink in the pub, before getting their fuel  from us.

“During busy times there’s had to be diversions in the high street because there are so many drivers queuing to get on the forecourt.

“People are travelling from far and wide and are coming over the border from Cumbria to stock up.

The first customers at the garage after it was taken over by the community.

Cllr Blackie said the cheap prices were helping to boost economic growth in the area.

“Affordable fuel is totally invaluable if our rural communities are to have a bright future,” he added.

A terminal has been installed allowing drivers to purchase fuel 24/7.

The machine is proving popular with sales of around £750 most nights.

On Christmas Day and Boxing Day the terminal took £1,700 and on New Year’s Day it sold £3,000 worth of fuel.

The 24/7 filling station is of benefit to local businesses and the whole community, believes David Hartley, managing director of the Wensleydale Creamery, in Hawes.

He said: “With a number of employees travelling to Hawes, fuel consumption is essential and can be costly.

“The competitive prices offered by the local filling station, help all employees to manage and reduce the cost of travel.

The flexibility and availability of the 24/7 is most welcome and improves the options for travel for employees who work during the ‘manned’ filling station hours, or have to set off early or return late.”

The petrol station now has plans to install two electric vehicle charging bays.

1 Comment

  1. Well… just proves that Community Run And Owned businesses are better! And friendlier. 😀

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