THE area's politicians have joined forced to tackle Tesco and Morrisons over a 'fuel price cartel' they are running at local forecourts.

Ronnie Cowan MP and Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan are ramping up the pressure on the supermarket giants to cut prices - saying their current approach of charging more here is no longer acceptable.

Mr Cowan has accusing both of operating 'cartel pricing' instead of helping customers, while Mr McMillan says the situation is crippling households alongside the cost of living increase.

Both politicians have written letters to the firms' head offices asking why locals are being charged significantly higher prices than motorists in other comparable areas.

They responded saying pricing in the area was different due to 'competition' and would strive to keep prices 'low.'

Mr Cowan labelled the supermarket giants' position as 'not good enough.'

He said: "If I buy a sandwich from a supermarket in Inverclyde, I may not like the price but at least I know that if I buy the same sandwich in the same supermarket in Paisley or Dundee, the chances are the cost will be the same.

"Like the UK Government, both operators just seem to be saying that the differences in fuel prices is down to market forces.

"I say that's not good enough. The operators continually say they are competitive locally, but I would suggest that if Morrison's drop their price Tesco will too, and vice-versa.

"Otherwise, it suggests a cartel where each is charging what the market will bear, as opposed to trying to help my constituents and their customers.

"I hope that these two huge concerns, who make lots of profits from all supermarket sales in Inverclyde, can see a way forward to see that people are not being unfairly discriminated against in this cost of living crisis."

Mr McMillan has started highlighting the cheapest stations to fuel up locally on his social media channels in a bid to 'shame local suppliers into bringing down their prices'.

He said: “I will continue to keep the pressure on fuel retailers to ensure that their pump prices are fair, but I also want to see the UK Government take tangible action.”

The MSP penned a letter to then-Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, asking the UK Government to consider his proposals as well as implementing standardised fuel pricing.

In its response, HM Treasury rebuffed the request, stating that fair pricing is best maintained through competition and that it expects those in the supply chain to pass the fuel duty cut through to consumers as soon as possible.

Mr McMillan added: “The reply from the Treasury doesn’t even recognise that the temporary 12-month cut to duty on petrol and diesel of 5p per litre has long been cancelled out by the rapid rise in fuel pump prices.

“What’s more, the UK Government’s response dismissed my calls for standardised fuel pump prices – siding with the big businesses and supporting their localised pricing policies that are harming my constituents."

He has also contacted Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes to ask the Scottish Government to step in and turn up the heat on Westminster.

The MSP added: “I will continue to put pressure on Tesco, Morrisons and BP to get a fair deal for local motorists, public services and businesses, but ultimately the Scottish Government’s hands are tied, especially when the UK Government shows no interest in genuinely getting to grips with the- cost of living crisis that it has helped to create.”