Think local when filling your car

Remember when getting a loaf of bread or a pint of milk meant just a short walk if you lived in any North East town (or a short drive in Aberdeenshire) to the local corner shop? Now you probably make a family excursion to your nearest Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury's or Morrisons. Now think about refuelling your car. Remember when refuelling the car was something you did when the fuel light came on? Oh, fuel light on, there's a station... fill up.

Not any more.

In the future we are going to have to be more organised. Get the groceries. Fill the car.

Our filling stations are currently closing at the rate of one per day, according to the Petrol Retailers' Association!

I can believe it. The only remaining non-supermarket filling stations I can think about in the central part of Aberdeen are BP on North Esplanade West and the Ruthrieston Filling Station on Holburn Street - and it has a 'For Sale' sign on it, so it probably won't be long until it becomes more houses.

The situation is as bad in Aberdeenshire. Our local town is expanding rapidly, but it lost its filling station some years ago.

All this is bad news for road users who can no longer rely on filling up conveniently. It's bad news for people like me who hate queuing, because - as the number of filling stations dwindle - the only ones remaining get busier and we have to queue for the privilege of filling up our cars.

It's also another nail in the coffin of local shopping. Most local filling stations have a small shop. It very possibly stocks some local produce, bakery, milk, plus local papers and magazines. Supermarkets don't. So an alternative local sales avenue to the corner shops closes down.

Finally, it is bad news for local economies the length and breadth of this land.

Local filling stations employed local people. The money they generated went into the local economy. They often helped local business.

Let's start supporting local businesses. My wife and I deliberately fill up at Five Mile Garage, Kingswells, as much as we can. We really don't reckon there is any significant difference in the money we spend on fuel. But we feel good that we are supporting a local business that supports local businesses (have you noticed how hard they promote local newspapers and magazines like Leopard?).

So when you have the option, think local. Even if it costs a penny or two more you may feel better about it.

Otherwise the only winners will be the big supermarkets.... and most of our hard earned money will head down the road to head offices in England.
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