Pays to shop around

A lack of competition has been blamed for the revelation that Mt Barker motorists are paying up to 11c more a litre for petrol than their neighbors.
An investigation by The Courier last week found petrol stations in the Hills’ regional centre were the most expensive in the district. That comes despite Mt Barker having a large commuter population that relies on cars to get to work.
The State’s peak motoring body, the RAA, believes a lack of competition in the town is at the heart of the problem.
Compared with the nearest major centre, Murray Bridge, petrol retailers here were up to 11c dearer a litre.
There is no doubt the Murraylands centre has more competition, with a larger number of petrol stations serving a greater volume of traffic. But that does not explain why smaller Hills centres such as Littlehampton, Bridgewater and Oakbank are substantially cheaper than Mt Barker.
It is a frustrating result for motorists, but the power to change the situation ultimately rests with them.
They should shop around to find the best prices and vote with their feet by filling up elsewhere if it is cheaper.
Grumbling at the bowser won’t change the major retailers’ ways, but a hit to their bottom line will.

Community changes

The Adelaide Hills Council’s draft Community Plan has revealed some amazing statistics.
The council district is evolving from a farm-based community to a commuter-based community.
While the increase in traffic on the freeway and the decline of large scale farming is self-evident, what isn’t so obvious is who is moving into the district and from where.
According to the plan, the council has about 40,000 people and 23,000 of them shifted house between 2001 and 2006.
In the 12 months leading up to 2006 a quarter of the population shifted house including about 7000 people who moved to the Hills from outside the district.
That presents some unique challenges.
How do you make people feel a part of their community and how do you get them involved in local groups and causes?
How does the CFS communicate life-saving bushfire protection messages to people who may never have lived in high or medium risk bushfire zones before?
How does the CFS recruit volunteers to protect the Hills when the people who live there actually spend most of the working week in Adelaide?
All of these issues need careful planning and new approaches.
Residents would be well advised to submit their views when the Community Plan comes out for public consultation at the end of the year.