Panic buying leads to misery for motorists

Steve Bamber: Owner of Spring House Garage on Barnsley Road, South Kirkby. See a massive increase in fuel sales over the last week.
Steve Bamber: Owner of Spring House Garage on Barnsley Road, South Kirkby. See a massive increase in fuel sales over the last week.

WORRIED motorists caused petrol shortages across the Express area after panic buying fuel last week.

The Tesco filling station, Market Street, Hemsworth, sold out of regular unleaded petrol on Thursday, with the Shell Garage, Minsthorpe Lane, South Elmsall, selling out of regular unleaded petrol and diesel on Friday. The Grade Filling Station, Doncaster Road, South Elmsall, also sold out of diesel on Friday.

Fears that fuel tanker drivers in the Unite union would go on strike kick-started the panic-buying, despite the union having to give at least a week’s notice before it could go ahead.

Unite has called for minimum working conditions covering pay, hours, holiday and redundancy for its drivers.

Government minister Francis Maude fanned the flames further by suggesting that people should stockpile fuel in jerrycans, advice that was later withdrawn after the Fire Brigades’ Union warned that storing petrol at home was extremely dangerous.

All stations in South Elmsall and Hemsworth are now trading as usual after Unite said the strike would not go ahead over the Easter weekend as talks to attempt to resolve the dispute were set to start yesterday.

One staff worker at the Tesco supermarket said on Friday: “We have been really busy - everyone is panic buying.”

Steve Bamber, manager of the Springhouse Garage, Barnsley Road, South Kirkby, said he had more business than ever last week.

He said: “There was so much more custom than normal, it was crazy the amount of people that were coming for fuel.”

He had a delivery last Wednesday before the rush had started so had plenty to go around.

Mr Bamber said: “It’s all down to the government though - telling people to make sure they had enough.

“And the public did just that but they did go a bit too far. But I can’t complain as it was good for business.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “For nearly two years, we have been trying to persuade the fuel distribution sector to work with us to defend best practice across the industry.

“It is vital that common, minimum standards on safety, training, wages and pensions are agreed to put a floor of best practice in the sector.