Busy trade at forecourts as strike looms

MOTORISTS are being urged not to panic-buy as some forecourts in the region have noticed a sharp increase in trade over fears of a petrol strike.

Anthony Bond

MOTORISTS are being urged not to panic-buy as some forecourts in the region have noticed a sharp increase in trade over fears of a petrol strike.

The AA has warned that panic-buying will collapse the system following concerns over a petrol tank drivers' walkout this weekend which could lead to deliveries at Shell petrol stations being disrupted.

Abbey Road Service Station in Leiston has been so busy that it is limiting the amount of fuel that non-regulars could have and stopping them from filling up petrol cans.

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Employee Carl Prior said: “We have definitely been busier. I think most customers are concerned and they look at the news and get frightened by it. They are told not to panic-buy but they do the opposite. We have only got small tanks and not getting a delivery until next week so probably we may run out.”

Justin Pearson, an employee at Shell Orwell, close to Ipswich's Orwell Bridge, said: “Everyone is filling up to the rafters and buying as much as possible but there is no need to panic-buy because we have got enough fuel to last us into the end of next week.

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“We have had queues out of the door and up the A14. The sheer volume of people buying is double what they are normally buying.”

Despite this, not all petrol stations had noticed panic-buying. Sainsbury's in Bedingfield Way, Bury St Edmunds, reported that trade was “brisk” but supplies were holding up.

A spokesman at Total in Great Barton said: “There has been a higher volume of customers than normal but I wouldn't call it panic-buying. We are expecting a delivery of fuel tomorrow so we will be fine.”

A spokesman at the Springlands Way Tesco in Sudbury said: “It has been pretty busy and people have said it has been hell with a queue right up to the roundabout but we're quite alright for supplies.”

A spokesman for the Petrol Retailers' Association said: “We have not noticed any instances of panic-buying ourselves so if people buy their normal amount everything will be fine. Regarding the Shell situation, they represent one in 10, so nine out of 10 petrol stations are completely unaffected by strike action.”

Andrew Howard, of the AA, said: “There are contingency arrangements being made and everything should be all right. The one thing the system cannot cope with is panic-buying. If everybody in the country puts half a tank of petrol in there car in the next few days the petrol system will not cope and will collapse because normally we fill the car up once a fortnight.”

The average price for unleaded petrol in Suffolk is currently 116p while Diesel is 129p.

Last night, crucial talks were being held aimed at averting a strike by hundreds of tanker drivers.

Leaders of the Unite union met officials of two companies working on Shell contracts in a bid to resolve the row over pay.

The talks looked likely to continue today, with time running out on averting a four-day stoppage from 6am on Friday.

The Government has urged drivers not to panic-buy fuel. A Downing Street spokesman said: "We want the public to continue to buy as normal so as to avoid creating problems that might otherwise not exist.''

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