By Betsy Everett
Trade at the Dalehead Garage in Hawes is up by 14 per cent since the Upper Dales Community Partnership took control at the beginning of November, the parish council has heard.
The takeover had been a catalyst for national media attention for the town and had been “an inspiration” to other rural communities, said chairman Councillor John Blackie.
“Taking on the garage underpinned all the other elements of the services we provide locally and have accumulated over the past 20 years,” he said. “It has given the town a really good name throughout the nation. The people of Hawes are self-reliant, independent, slightly cussed, and would never take no for an answer.”
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Because prices at the petrol station were keen, people had been coming along not just for a few litres of fuel, but with empty tanks to fill, rather than driving to Catterick to get cheaper petrol. The price per litre would inevitably fluctuate but would never be more than one or two pence above Catterick’s, said Mr Blackie.
In due course a grant would be applied for to make it a round-the-clock operation with a pay at the pump card system and once the three-year lease had expired a community buy-out would be launched, said Mr Blackie. The community would then own the garage in perpetuity or for as long as petrol was needed and early next year would have an electric charging point.
Four fuel companies were competing to supply the garage on a five-year contract.
“They want the franchise. They see it as the antidote to losing rural petrol stations. Twenty have closed in the past three years in North Yorkshire alone. To find a way of keeping them open benefits the community and the suppliers,” he added.
The five pence a litre government rebate was still in place, and while the Hawes garage was starting out suppliers were sending smaller tankers, helping the early cash flow.
The garage had a capacity of 26,000 litres of diesel and 28,000 litres of petrol. There were four part-time paid employees and two volunteers.