Petrol prices could leap by 4p a litre by the Bank Holiday weekend, fuel bosses have predicted.

And motorists should brace themselves for a triple-whammy in the New Year that could push prices above record levels, the Retail Motor Industry Independent Petrol Retailers Association (RMI Petrol) yesterday warned.

Drivers in Sussex are already coping with an “appalling fuel price lottery”, with prices varying by as much as 6p a litre, the AA said.

This is causing motorists to only partially fill up before drive off to find somewhere cheaper.

RMI Petrol, which represents around two-thirds of the UK's 9,000 petrol forecourt sites, said the cost of fuel will rise sharply in the next three weeks because of rising oil prices and a weakening pound.

In the New Year, two increases in fuel duty and the rise in VAT to 20% will cause prices at the pump to rise by 8% to an average of 125.9p per litre, smashing the current record high of 121.61p.