Ministers on Wednesday continued to urge motorists to return to normal fuelling habits. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the level of fuel at forecourts is stabilising amid calls to give essential workers priority access.
A taxi trade body boss said that at least a quarter of his members couldn’t work on Tuesday, and one local council has asked petrol stations to give essential workers priority access after it had to cancel school buses.
Motorists in the UK, particularly England, have been rushing to petrol stations since Sept. 23 after a handful of forecourts ran dry due to chronic shortages of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers and media outlets reported on leaked content of a meeting saying BP might have to ration its deliveries.
Lengthy queues have been seen across the country, with a number of clashes breaking out.
James Spencer, managing director at Portland Fuel, told the BBC that “sales at forecourts went up by 500 percent over the weekend.”
On Wednesday, Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced that the government’s reserve tanker fleet would start delivering fuel across Britain in the afternoon.
“The trucks are driven by civilians and will provide additional logistical capacity to the fuel industry,” Kwarteng wrote on Twitter.
“We are now seeing signs that the situation at the pumps has begun to improve with more stations getting more fuel,” the business secretary added.
“The sooner we can all return to our normal buying habits, the sooner the situation will return to normal,” he said, echoing the prime minister’s earlier remarks.
Johnson said the ministers had heard from the industry that supplies started getting into forecourts “in the normal way.”
It was previously reported that some people, including medics, had been unable to go to work because they couldn’t find fuel over the weekend.
Steve McNamara, the general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme on Wednesday that 25 to 30 percent of his members were unable to work on Tuesday.
McNamara called on the government to secure priority access to so-called “essential workers,” a request Johnson rejected, suggesting it was unnecessary given the easing of the situation.
However, there have been renewed calls for priority access as Buckinghamshire Council started its own priority system, according to The Telegraph.
The report said the Council wrote to petrol stations, asking them to cater for certain key workers, but the system only works when there’s “goodwill” and when the list is limited.
“Given that we have no actual powers, what happens when somebody who has been queueing for two or three hours suddenly sees somebody pushing in front waving a letter saying: ‘Hey I stack shelves, I’m a key worker’?” Councillor Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire Council, was quoted as saying.
“It’s really tricky, so we’ve tried to keep it limited at the moment and we’ll just see how this works before we consider extending it,” he said.