Pumps start to run dry as dash for fuel goes on

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QUEUES continued on county petrol station forecourts yesterday as motorists continued to panic over threats of strike action by fuel tanker drivers.

Petrol station pumps ran dry and forecourts were jammed with queuing vehicles as people rushed to fill up their fuel tanks on Government advice.

The much-talked about pressure at the pumps showed no sign of easing despite union Unite’s sassurance a walk-out by tanker drivers would not happen before Easter.

ASDA, BP and Jet in Corby, Jet in Rushden, BP and Sainsbury’s in Kettering all ran out of petrol during the day.

Texaco in Corby ran out of diesel, Budgens in Thrapston ran out of diesel and Shell in Wellingborough ran out of unleaded.

Texaco in Corby, Rothwell Service Station and Total in Kettering all expected to run out of all fuels last night.

The situation not only left pumps dry but caused problems on the roads as queues snaked from the forecourts and onto the highway.

As the situation escalated, businesses in the region voiced their concern over the impact of a fuel shortage if it continued.

Andy Foster, of Arrows Taxis in Kettering, said his firm was not affected yet, but said he was concerned some of his cars may be forced off–road.

Then, he said, the business may have to turn down customer calls which could cost him thousands of pounds a week.

Driving instructors who rely on a constant fuel supply for their livelihoods are also potentially affected by the crisis.

Billy McArthur, of Chariots School of Motoring in Kettering, said a continued fuel shortage would impact his job and learner drivers.

However, haulage companies in the region said they were not concerned at this point, as did coach companies.

Paul Gillett, of Gibsons Haulage, said they had a back-up plan which would fuel his trucks for at least a month.

East Midlands Ambulance Service and Northamptonshire Police both said they also had contingency plans set up to combat the fuel shortage.

Yesterday morning Unite announced that there would be no strike over Easter, following early fears it would take place then.

The region’s MPs are split over the situation.

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone urged people to stay calm and criticised the Government’s handling of the situation.

But Corby MP Louise Mensch said people should keep their fuel tanks topped up and blamed the unions for causing the panic.