Forecourts reporting very busy trade

FORECOURTS in the region have reported an increase in motorists filling up with petrol as concerns grow over a haulage strike this weekend.

Anthony Bond

FORECOURTS in the region have reported an increase in motorists filling up with petrol as concerns grow over a haulage strike this weekend.

Tanker drivers working for two companies which deliver fuel to Shell forecourts began a four-day strike yesterdayover a pay dispute.

This has led to concerns that some motorists will panic-buy which could lead to fuel shortages.

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Sheila Winter, manageress of BP on the A12 at Stratford St Andrew, said: “We are busier but not a great deal and hopefully we will be okay. I would not say that people are panic-buying but we are definitely busier, but not to the extent that it is going to cause us any problems.”

An employee at the Shell garage on Grove Road in Woodbridge said it was much busier than usual.

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“We are very busy and everybody is just 'buy, buy, buy'. A lot of different people are coming in and it is not just the regulars. We are taking a lot more money and people are putting more petrol in than usual.”

Basil Underwood, owner of the Old Forge Filling Station in West Mersea, near Colchester, said he took a big delivery on Thursday night and does not expect to run dry.

“We have been busy since Wednesday because everyone is filling up,” he said. “I think it will tail off over the weekend though.”

Tothill Services in Stowmarket also reported being busier than usual as did Shell on Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, which also said it was running low on some fuels.

The AA warned that drivers queuing at petrol station forecourts wasted fuel with their engines running while a less convenient station may have pumps to spare.

Edmund Kind, president of the AA, said: “Fuel queues last night appeared to follow the usual pattern when shortages threaten. Drivers queued at the more popular fuel stations, such as supermarkets, while down the road forecourts charging the same price were comparatively empty

“Providing other drivers keep in perspective that the strike ends on Tuesday and that most of them have enough fuel to see them through, there shouldn't be a need to panic. Ironically, those motorists filling up now could be spreading normal weekend fuel consumption across three instead of two days - perhaps making the typical Sunday start-of-the-week refuel less busy than normal.”

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) said there had been a 25% rise in sales this week, meaning drivers had already filled their tanks in anticipation of a walk-out.

PRA director Ray Holloway said: “Sales were up by 25% over the industry and that normally happens before a Bank Holiday. Instead of people putting in their normal £25, they've been putting in £30. Our members have been busy but it's not panic-buying. That's healthy.”

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