MOTORISTS are rushing to Huntingdonshire’s fuel pumps over fears supplies will dry up despite Unite say there will be no Easter strike action.
Queues were forming at the Shell garage at THC Ford, in Stukeley Road, and at BP in Hartford Road yesterday (Thursday) and the petrol station at Buckden roundabout was running low after the rush to the pumps was prompted by advice from the Government on Wednesday, recommending that motorists “top-up” their tanks ahead of a possible strike by fuel tanker drivers.
The Total garage next to the Vindis roundabout is the only petrol station in St Ives to have fuel after the BP garage on the ring road is believed to be sold out and the Shell, in Ramsey Road, sold out of fuel earlier. Managers are preparing for a delivery later today (Friday). The Shell in Fenstanton is also believed to be empty.
A spokesman for the Total garage in St Ives said last night they had an emergency delivery. “We had five out of eight pumps not working yesterday because we had run out,” she told The Hunts Post.
“We had a delivery to fill our tanks but that’s running out fast. We should be ok for today. We have the normal people who are filling up like normal but there are some will be just topping up.”
A Hunts Post reader rang to say that people were coming as far as Cambridge to fill up. She said: “I only just about managed to fill up. There’s a lot of people shouting ‘I want to fill up my tank get out of the way’ and a lot of people beeping their horns.”
Cambridgeshire police are not at any of the county’s petrol stations at the moment.
Unite announced today (Friday) that there would be no action at Easter as the union confirmed they wanted to start talks through conciliation service Acas.
Unite assistant general secretary, Diana Holland, said: “We will not be calling Easter strike action as we focus on substantive talks through Acas. We do still retain the right to call strike action for after Easter should those talks breakdown.
“It should be stressed that what we are seeking is reasonable and no more than what is in place elsewhere in the industry. There have been minimum standards governing the offshore oil industry since 2000 covering health and safety, training and terms and conditions.
“This is not a political dispute. It is an industrial dispute and the government’s recent rhetoric will not help us achieve a negotiated settlement. The government must set aside its political objectives and work with us, the employers, retailers and oil companies to achieve an outcome that is good for the industry and the country.”
Colin Boswell, a plumber is St Ives, said that because people were panic buying he was not able to fill up his work vans. “It doesn’t make sense for people to have a full car sit on their driveways when businesses can’t get the fuel to keep them going,” he said.
“It’s affecting me quite badly as I’ve had to limit what we do today just in case there’s an emergency and we run out of petrol on the way.”
AA president Edmund King said: “There is no fuel tanker strike and therefore if drivers followed normal fuel buying patterns there would be no fuel shortage whatsoever.
“We now have self-inflicted shortages due to poor advice about topping up the tank and hoarding in jerry cans. This in turn has led to localised shortages, queues and some profiteering at the pumps.”
Mr King continued: “Even if we do have a strike which is unlikely, there will be seven days’ notice of strike action, and therefore time for drivers to fill up. The AA has advised all along that drivers should follow their normal fuel buying patterns.”
A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said: “There is still no indication that strike is imminent as Unite would have to give us seven days notice, which we haven’t received.
“The fuel supply into this county is not being affected. Any shortages are a result of panic buying. People are advised to not panic buy or stockpile fuel which could create problems when there isn’t one.”
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