This winter will be a cold and costly one for many families.

The latest wave on hugely unpopular fuel price increases will put an extra 30'000 pesetas on an average family's monthly bill and in the Balearics, with transport costs being forced up, families will find the monthly cost of living rise by as much as 35'000 pesetas. Consumer groups yesterday complained that the free falling Euro and the mighty Dollar are holding Spanish and Balearic households to ransom. The post Euro-tumble rise in interest rates means, on an average mortgage, homeowners will be now paying an extra 20'000 pesetas per month, on top of a 6'000 peseta increase in fuel expenditure and this winter, heating costs will be 3'000 pesetas more per month than last year. Cushioning the Dollar and trying to continue living with the failing Euro will cost an average family an extra 360'000 pesetas per year, pending no further fuel price hikes, which sadly are expected. Since January unleaded fuel gas gone up by 20 pesetas per litre, super 25 pesetas, diesel 21 pesetas and heating fuel a further 20 and consumer groups yesterday called on the government to take a reality check on the situation. Consumer association bosses demanded that the government stop telling the public that Spain has the lowest prices in Europe what the government fails to account for, or fails to recognise, it that Spanish wages are some of the lowest in Europe as well. As it is Balearic families have the biggest problems in reaching the end of the month. Petrol companies were yesterday accused of “scandalous” behaviour and lacking any respect whatsoever for the general public. Consumer groups and local resident associations in the Balearics yesterday backed nationwide calls for protests and demonstrations and the commercial and industrial sectors are also locked in talks about strike action. Only one month ago the Balearics was brought to a standstill be fuel depot protests against an increase in fuel prices, but the exasperated industrial sector is not quite sure what the best action is to take in order to have a long lasting affect. As I wrote in the Bulletin yesterday that charter airlines were going to have to increase flight prices, yesterday afternoon a spokesperson for the Association of Spanish Airlines said that members will be putting their prices up “immediately” because of the strength of the Dollar. The Association represents 25 airlines with a total fleet of 100 aircraft and a suspected price rise of around 10 percent, higher than the earlier forecast of eight percent, should enable airlines to account for the high Dollar.