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A SURVEY by the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce has revealed that most businesses in the region would be in favour of a fuel price regulator to keep a lid on escalating pump prices.

The poll was the first conducted of chamber members since the budget last month, and has revealed that 61 per cent were in favour of the regulator.

Captain Jimmy Chestnutt, chief executive of Hampshire Chamber, said: ‘There are encouraging signs of a return to growth, but we are still in very choppy waters.

‘Rising fuel prices, notwithstanding the 1p cut in the Budget, are putting a huge strain on business.

‘A regulator would be one way of building fairness into the pricing system and enabling companies to predict and stay on top of their running costs.’

The survey found that nearly twice as many businesses in Hampshire took on staff in the first three months of this year compared with the last quarter of 2010, 28 per cent as opposed to 15 per cent.

Three times as many expect to increase their workforce in the next quarter, 30 per cent as against nine per cent previously.