THE first community run filling station in England opened for business this week to a brisk trade in the market town of Hawes.

The Upper Dales Community Partnership, a not-for-profit community company backed by North Yorkshire County Council, is manning the petrol pumps in the village to guarantee there is fuel available locally seven days a week.

Nearly £5,000 was taken at the filling station on its first day of trading, serving up to 170 customers.

“The filling station provides a vital service to the communities in these deeply rural areas” said County Councillor John Blackie, who has been the Executive Chairman of the Upper Dales Community Partnership since it started 20 years ago.

“The huge support we have seen this week shows how much people appreciate the effort to keep our local petrol station open. In recent years rural filling stations have all but disappeared.

“Hawes retails a million litres of fuel annually to local people and tourists including 2,500 litres a month for our Community Transport service The Little White Bus. So you can see how dependent we are on having fuel available every day of the year.”

The Community Partnership has been supported long term by North Yorkshire County Council which is transforming services to help communities help themselves:

“We fully back this latest venture and are glad to see it get off to a good start,” said County Councillor Carl Les, North Yorkshire’s leader. “The county council is totally committed to the sustainability of our rural communities and continues to develop pioneering partnerships to keep services going.”

During the three year lease, the Upper Dales partnership intends to stage a community share offer to purchase the petrol station so the local community can own it in perpetuity, like the growing number of communities that now own their pubs.

Hawes is so remote it is one of a small handful of communities in the UK that receives a Government fuel duty discount of 5p per litre – passed on in full to customers - to address the high cost of delivering a tanker of fuel.