More than half of all non-motorway petrol stations have dried up over the weekend due to panic by panicked motorists, prompting ministers to consider giving notices to the military to move tankers to the forecourt.
The government has suspended competition laws to allow fuel companies to coordinate deliveries, and Boris Johnson is set to decide on Monday whether to send troops to ease the crisis.
The Petrol Retailers Association reported alarming shortages among its independent members as oil giant BP warned that nearly a third of its sites had no supply.
The government’s pleas to stop drivers from filling in “when they don’t need it” fell on deaf ears, as long queues formed in the forecourt, operators hauled supplies – and police were called to a scuffle in London.
With Christmas just three months away, buyers were also warned about turkey shortages, while toy sellers report delays and higher prices in shipping goods to Brexit Britain.
Trade Secretary Quasi Quarteng announced at 9 pm on Sunday that petrol firms were temporarily exempted from the Competition Act 1998. Officials said the “downstream oil protocol” would make it easier for firms to share information and prioritize the delivery of fuel across much of the country. need.
PRA President Brian Maderson revealed a survey of its members, who make up the majority of the UK’s 8,000-odd petrol stations.
“They serve main roads, rural areas, urban roads, and anywhere between 50 percent and 90 percent of their courtyards are currently dry – and those that are not dry are partly dry and ending soon. are,” he told the BBC.
“One of them told me that yesterday their demand had increased by 500 percent compared to a week ago, which is quite extraordinary.”
BP, which operates 1,200 petrol stations, said: “With strong demand over the past two days, we estimate that about 30 percent of the sites on this network currently have none of the main grades of fuel.”
Earlier, the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, sparked anger when he claimed that industrialists were responsible for the chaos despite the government acknowledging the shortage of lorry drivers. He was accused of “disrespectful attacks” on hard-pressed riders and “embarrassingly passing the buck” to queues.
row after mail on sunday A government source is quoted as saying that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) is “entirely responsible for this panic and chaos”.
The transport secretary backed up the claim, saying: “About 10 days ago there was a meeting, a private meeting, in which a freight association decided to leak the details to the media.
“And that, as we’ve seen, has created a lot of anxiety because people naturally react to those things.”
Describing the leaks as “irresponsible”, Mr Shapps told the BBC Andrew Marr Show: “The good news is that there is a lot of fuel. The bad news is that if everyone buys it when it is not needed, we will have queues.”
But RHA retaliated swiftly, stating that its managing director Rod McKenzie was not even at the meeting where a BP executive discussed stock levels.
A statement said, “As the government source claimed, he was not “aware of the comments” and certainly did not “weaponize” them in subsequent TV interviews.
“In fact he has repeatedly emphasized that there is no need to panic with purchases and there is sufficient fuel stock.
“RHA believes this shameful attack on a member of its staff is an attempt to divert their attention from the driver shortage crisis.”
Liberal Democrat business spokeswoman Sarah Olney said: “Grant Shapps is shamefully passing the buck for his own failures of government.
“Conservatives have repeatedly ignored calls from businesses to address the driver shortage. It is now a bit rich for ministers to blame the public and the road transport industry for the mess in which we find ourselves.”
Mr Shapps’ remarks came after the announcement of emergency visas for foreign lorry drivers to come to the UK to ease the crisis was dismissed as a damp squib.
As expected, the proposal would be given to 5,000 HGV drivers – as well as 5,500 poultry workers – but the visas would expire on Christmas Eve, triggering criticism they are too little, too late.
Keir Starmer suggested there is a need for 100,000 foreign drivers – the RHA estimate of the shortfall – saying: “We have to do that. We need to issue enough visas to meet the number of drivers we need.”
Labor leader said: “I am surprised that the government is not taking action knowing the situation today. PM needs to say today what he is going to do“
Meanwhile, a poultry association said that large firms have already reduced production of turkeys for the festive season, as they will not have enough staff to handle more orders.
Kate Martin, president of the Traditional Farm Fresh Turkey Association, said: “It looks like there’s a national shortage of turkey when we’re talking about supermarket shelves, rather than buying directly from your farm.”
Footage circulating on social media showed two helmeted men fighting among themselves at a petrol station in north London before police arrived at the scene.
One person was arrested and taken into custody on suspicion of assault, but no injuries have been reported.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /