Drivers urged to 'think before filling up' to protect essential services
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Think about the county's vital services before you buy petrol - that's the message from Suffolk leaders and organisations as panic buying continues.
Healthcare workers, utility staff and emergency services are just some of the key sectors reliant on travel; they must be able to get fuel when needed and to avoid queues.
Warnings not to panic buy have only increased motorists' concerns - leading to garages running out of stock and queuing as people waited for their turn on the forecourt.
Leaders and organisations from across the county have come together in the message that people should stick to their normal routine and only fill up their cars as needed.
A West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: "Many of our staff across the county rely on their vehicles to deliver vital healthcare to the sick and the vulnerable, so we would ask everyone to be responsible and buy fuel as normal.
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"Please also be considerate and help keep the roads moving so that everyone who needs to can get to our hospitals without delay."
Suffolk Constabulary said: "We are aware of drivers queuing at some petrol stations in Suffolk. Keeping highways clear is essential for public services but particularly emergency responders and hindering them could cause a public health risk.
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"Please follow the latest government guidance around buying fuel."
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said he is "confident in the government's contingency plans to ring-fence fuel supplies for essential services", adding: "I urge individuals to think before they fill up. It’s important that we work together while this temporary supply chain delay is resolved.
"I have full confidence that the Secretary of State for Transport will resolve this issue rapidly, and must emphasise that there is no cause for panic while that resolution is reached."
Many keyworkers will travel to and from work on public transport, which is also reliant on fuel deliveries and clear roads.
A spokesman for First Buses said that most services in the county were running around 10 minutes late but that there were more serious delays over the border at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.
Paul Simon, from the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: "The HGV driver shortage has been developing for many years due to a number of reasons, but its impacts on businesses are becoming greater and greater by the day.
"Suffolk Chamber has been intensively lobbying our MPs to persuade the Home Office to use the controls it now has over our borders to include HGV drivers on the Occupation Shortage List to boost their numbers over the next 12 months.
"At the same time, government needs to redeploy its resources to clear the accumulated backlog in HGV tests for existing drivers.
"Nationally, it is estimated that 40,000 HGV tests were cancelled last year and as at end of July this year there was still a testing backlog of 25,000.
"In the longer-term, we are pressing for a greater business voice in identifying and helping to deliver the local and regional skills needed by our key sectors, including haulage and logistics. "
Are you a keyworker who has been affected by the petrol situation? Email us at email@example.com.