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Petrol pumps run dry as drivers top up their tanks
PANIC buying at petrol pumps prompted MPs and local politicians to call for an end to the “hysteria “ as service stations ran dry in York.
Garage forecourts throughout our region saw motorists queueing out on to the roads as many ignored Government advice and filled up their cars amid fears of a strike by tanker drivers.
In York, many petrol stations had run out of diesel by late morning, while a few put up notices saying they had no fuel at all.
In Hull Road, the Shell petrol station had closed by lunchtime, saying it had no fuel on site, while the nearby Jet garage saw its supply of diesel exhausted.
The Co-op petrol station in Tadcaster Road also ran out of diesel by noon but said it was expecting another tanker at 11pm last night.
The scenes were repeated in Selby. June Corkhill, manager at Millgate Service Station, said customers were “going mad” to fill up just in case.
“It’s very very busy”, she said. “We ran out of fuel this morning, and had another tanker in later in the day.
“A tanker lasts us just over a week normally, and we’ve had two already this week.”
The petrol station at Tesco in Portholme Road, Selby, was also reported to have run out.
Customers ringing the company’s helpline were told that demand for fuel was “exceptionally high”.
A Tesco spokeswoman said: “Customers are putting more fuel in their cars and we are experiencing an increase in sales in some areas, but customers can be reassured that the fuel supply chain is working hard to meet increased demand.”
Yesterday saw Prime Minister David Cameron try to quell the panic by reminding motorists that strike action by tanker drivers was not imminent or even certain. He said: “It is now clear there will not be a strike before Easter, and I’m sure the whole country will welcome that news.
“It is vitally important the trade union in question enters these talks on Monday constructively.
“The most constructive thing they could do would be to call off the strike entirely.”
Nigel Adams, Conservative MP for Selby and Ainsty, blamed the media for people stockpiling fuel in jerry cans.
He said: “I don’t think it was helpful the way comments about ‘jerry cans’ was reported.
“The way the media and broadcast media reported the ‘jerry cans’ remark has been hysterical, and that is what people react to.
“I think people should just go about filling up their cars as they would ordinarily, but obviously, the Government is mindful that the trade union has threatened strike action, so we have to be prepared.”
However, City of York Council leader, James Alexander said: “I’m afraid the Government has not handled this situation well, and its energies should be directed at getting around the table with workers’ representatives rather than exacerbating the problem. Unfortunately Francis Maude’s comments make him sound more like Jeremy Clarkson than the Cabinet Minister for the British Government.”
In Ryedale, some garages reported panic buying had died down and business was back to normal yesterday afternoon.
The Tyke 2000 filling station in Church Street, Malton said it had “no problems “.
A spokesman said: “We have had a tanker today and it’s fine. It was a bit panicky yesterday but everything’s fine now.”
Meanwhile, JB Motors, also in Malton, said it had had a “steady stream of people throughout the day but no long queues.”
Motorists ‘queue for £5 worth’
Motorists are getting into a “feeding frenzy” in their efforts to avoid fuel shortages, an industry leader warned last night.
The UK Petroleum Industry Association is reported to have described the fuel crisis as "self-inflicted insanity" in a leaked email to the Department of Energy. Chris Hunt, director general of the association, said his comments were not a “stab at the Government", but aimed at those drivers needlessly filling their tanks when strike action had not been announced.
Mr Hunt said: “It’s unlike any crisis before, one which we are inflicting on ourselves. It’s disappointing and totally unnecessary.
“There is no problem with the primary supply. It is the motoring public – which I include myself in this – getting into a feeding frenzy.
"I've heard of people queuing to put £5 worth of petrol in their car. Where is the sanity?"
The union representing 2,000 fuel tanker drivers ruled out the threat of strikes over Easter and said it wanted to focus on peace talks.