Hawes residents offered cheap fuel in return for buying shares in local garage to secure its future

A remote town in the Yorkshire Dales has launched a scheme urging residents to invest in their local garage in return for a discount on their petrol or diesel.

The community-run Dale Head garage in Hawes, North Yorkshire, is the only 24-hour filling station catering for locals, farmers and tourists all year round.

Campaigners say it is the lifeblood of the town, helping to support the local post office, library and access bus.

And they claim those essential services could be jeopardy, as the pension fund which owns the site is putting it up for sale.

The Upper Dales Community Partnership (UDCP), which currently operates the garage, has launched its plan to buy the filling station for the town.

And investors could benefit from discounted fuel at a time when filling up cars is reaching record highs.

The UDCP is consulting with residents over the plans which would raise the cash through a combination of government and charitable grants, alongside a share scheme.

That would see private investments of a minimum £1,000 receive an annual interest rate of around four per cent as well as a reduction on the pump price of fuel of approximately four pence per litre.

David Colley, chairman of the UDCP, said: "If the garage is taken over by a private owner, clearly a private owner wouldn't dedicate the profits from the garage to support those services.

"We want to make everyone, in the area served by Dale Head Garage, aware of the proposal and the opportunity to participate in securing the future of the garage as a genuine community-owned facility."

People living in the area are being asked to give their opinions on the scheme

The town's post office – the only one for 17 miles – has been dependent on the UDCP and funding from the garage.

It is based in the town's community hub which also houses the library and takes bookings for the Little White Bus service, with routes including the nearest hospital and local schools and colleges.

Abbie Rhodes, general manager, said: "Residents love what we do here and they want to sustain it themselves. If things did change at the garage we would have to look at what we were doing and adjust, hopefully accordingly."

Reaction to the scheme has been positive.

Hotelier Angus McCarthy said: "We need to get people involved and keep it as a community garage.

"The pubs have done it throughout the country and this is what we want to do for the garage."

The owners of the site are sympathetic to the community's cause and negotiations with the UDCP are ongoing. They have around six months to secure their bid.

People living in the area are being asked to give their opinions on the scheme. If there is enough interest the UDCP will hold public meetings with greater detail about how it would work.