FRONT PAGE: Fuel duty U-turn after lobbyists meet Darling

Alistair Darling's Budget turnaround on fuel duty came after the Chancellor held an hour-long meeting with lobbyists fiercely opposed to the plans.

Haulage lobby: met the Chancellor to oppose the 2p rise in fuel duty
Haulage lobby: met the Chancellor to oppose the 2p rise in fuel duty

Darling announced on Wednesday that the planned 2p fuel duty rise, due to come in from April, was being postponed to October.

Representatives of the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) met the Chancellor in Feb­ruary to outline their res­istance. Darling ‘kept his cards close to his chest' during the hour-long briefing, according to FTA public affairs chief Jo Ingham.

But the Chancellor did not offer the same access to environmental campaigners in favour of the mooted 2p fuel duty rise, according to Friends of the Earth.

A spokesman for the charity said: ‘We requested a meeting with Mr Darling twice and had no reply. We met his number two Ang­ela Eagle last week for an hour. But that was to discuss all transport initiatives.'

After the initial meeting with the Chancellor, the FTA - backed by Citigate Dewe Rogerson's public affairs team - then proceeded to hold individual meetings with 19 MPs across all three parties, including meeting 10 MPs on the same day.

The FTA also lobbied at the grassroots level, with 1,000 of its members app­roaching their local MPs.

National Farmers' Union head of comms Anthony Gibson separately lobbied treasury ministers, including Eagle. ‘We set out the agricultural case,' he said.

5 February The FTA calls a meeting with seven other trade associations including AA, British Chambers of Commerce and Confederation of Passenger Transport

11 February The FTA and RHA meet Darling. The trade body coalition publishes a letter in The Daily Telegraph. National Farmers' Union also signs the letter

8 March The FTA organises 10 pre-Budget meetings with key MPs

12 March The fuel hike is postponed

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