Post office and library in Yorkshire Dales town of Hawes at risk of closing unless locals buy the petrol station

A Yorkshire Dales community is hoping local drivers can be persuaded to invest in a fully community-owned petrol station in return for cheaper fuel.

The Dale Head filling station in Hawes is currently run by the Upper Dales Community Partnership, who lease the site and use profits to fund the town's library, post office and access bus.

Yet the forecourt is owned by a pension fund who have recently announced that they intend to sell it on the open market if the UDCP cannot afford to buy it themselves - putting the future of other community services at risk.

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Dale Head serves a large area and is the only 24-hour pump for around 20 miles, meaning fuel availability is vital for both the tourism industry, farming and residents' quality of life.

Dale Head petrol station in Hawes could become entirely community-owned

The UDCP's solution is to now make Dale Head the first entirely community-owned petrol station in England, similar to pubs and village shops run under such a model.

Investors would pay £1,000 for a block of shares that would entitle them to a 4p reduction per litre of fuel they buy.

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A similar bid is underway in Reeth, where the only garage in the area is now closed after the last private owner left and a 'consortium' of residents including a farmer, a gamekeeper and a hotelier are attempting to buy the business.

Profits from fuel sales fund the post office, library and access bus in the Dales market town

UDCP director David Colley said: "We have around 15 months left on our lease and if the petrol station is then sold to a private owner, that puts our other services - the post office, library and bus - in serious jeopardy. Our profits go towards funding the others. It was actually the pension fund who suggested we buy it and they've given us a six-month moratorium to raise the investment.

"We want to start a community benefit society, and we are now putting the message out there to everyone in Wensleydale and Swaledale. You will get 4p off a litre of fuel and interest on your money. We've already had interest from locals and we would rather have 100 people living in this area than a few big investors.

"The nearest fuel stations are at Bainbridge and Aysgarth, around nine miles away, and we are the only one with 24-hour service. It is vitally important for both locals and tourists. We also have two electric vehicle charging points and intend to grow that."

They also hope to fund around half of the project with grants from the government's Community Benefit Fund and Richmondshire Council.

"We are the only post office for 20 miles now, and are providing an extra outreach service as Thoralby's has just closed. These services depend on the income from the fuel sales."