April 02, 2012

Petrol stations 'struggling to restock'

Petrol stations say they are struggling to restock after panic buying sparked by fears of a tanker driver strike.
Retail Motor Industry, which represents 5,000 independent stations, said 30-50% of garages had run out of some fuels.

Prices were "going crazy" because some retailers were buying fuel from new sources, it said. Ministers say they are working to keep prices down.
Some 2,062 fuel tanker drivers are in a dispute with employers over safety standards and working conditions. 

Conciliation service Acas said on Monday that employers were starting "exploratory talks" aimed at averting a strike.
The threat of possible strike action prompted widespread panic buying of petrol and diesel at the end of last week.

'Government created crisis'
Retail Motor Industry chairman Brian Madderson told BBC Radio 4's Today that 30-50% of all retail sites it had polled had either one grade or both grades of petrol out of stock.
"The withdrawal of fuel in such a frenzy in the mid part of last week has actually made the tankers roll back orders, so that some members won't be getting any fuel until later this week," he said.
Mr Madderson said some of his group's members had been given permission by their usual suppliers to source petrol from elsewhere if they could find it.

He said a member in the Midlands was among them. "He was selling unleaded at 137.9p a litre he's paid a fortune to get an extra load in, he's now selling at 147.9," Mr Madderson said.
"The government created a crisis where one did not exist... industry should have been involved much earlier."

The government has faced widespread criticism for urging motorists to keep their petrol tanks topped up, and calls have been made for the resignation of Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, who advised people to store petrol in jerrycans in case of industrial action.
'No urgency' to top up
On Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said motorists should go to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) website for the latest advice.
The website advises motorists there is "no urgency to top up your tank". The Downing Street spokesman said the advice had been updated after Unite had made it clear that its members would not strike over Easter.

The spokesman said the government was focused on putting "robust" contingency plans in place for any industrial action. He said David Cameron had full confidence in Francis Maude.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening told BBC Look North in Hull that the government had "worked hard to keep the cost of petrol down".
"We are making sure petrol stations can get topped-up... things are getting back to normal," she said.
On Sunday, Foreign Secretary William Hague defended ministers' actions, saying the country was now in a "better state of preparedness" for the eventuality of a tanker strike.
He said Mr Maude's comments - which prompted safety warnings by the Fire Brigades Union - were a "technical error".

Two days after Mr Maude's advice, Diane Hill was injured at her York home while pouring petrol from one container to another in her kitchen. It is not known if she had been storing petrol because of the strike threat. On Monday morning she was said to be in a critical but stable condition.
Labour's Yvette Cooper said on Sunday that government ministers had been "disgracefully irresponsible". 

The seven companies involved in the driver dispute - Wincanton, DHL, BP, Hoyer, J W Suckling, Norbert Dentressangle and Turners - are responsible for supplying 90% of the UK's 8,706 petrol stations. They also supply the country's airports. Workers at DHL and JW Suckling voted against strike action but backed action short of a strike.

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