Pumps run dry as panic sets in

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Petrol stations have begun running dry after panic buying emptied pumps.

Frenzied drivers blocked forecourts across the north of the county with a third of pumps at Sainsbury’s in Wellingborough out of petrol and diesel by yesterday afternoon.

Darren Boothby, home and leisure manager of Asda in Kettering, which still had petrol and diesel, said: “It’s heaving. Absolutely rammed.

“They are queuing back out into the car park.”

Mr Boothby reassured customers Asda would not run out of fuel.

Queues stretched out of forecourts blocking roads at supermarkets, where fuel is often cheaper.

Lines of cars snaked out of Morrisons in Kettering, blocking Northfield Avenue.

Vehicles also backed up at Tesco and Sainsbury’s in Wellingborough, Waitrose in Rushden and Morrisons in Corby. Patient supermarket staff were called out to police the waiting motorists in a bid to ease gridlock.

The queue was so bad at Tesco Extra in Carina Road, Kettering, at 10.20pm on Wednesday driver Nick West, 49, of Millennium Close, Kettering, turned back and went to the Total garage in Barton Road.

He said: “It was only half open but people were queuing out to the roundabout so I went to Barton Road and that was empty.”

At Asda in Northfield Avenue, Kettering, yesterday drivers encircled the petrol station awaiting their turn at the pumps.

Describing the military-style manoeuvres, Mr Boothby said: “It’s a bit hectic, but we’ve got enough staff.

“They were directing traffic on the forecourt so people can get in. We are taking the fuel traffic away from the main shoppers.”

Morrisons in Corby reported more customers than normal.

Mandy Keyes, marketing and community co-ordinator for Waitrose in Rusdhen, said: “It has been a bit hectic. It’s busy but it’s business as usual. It’s about keeping an eye on queues and making sure safety is a priority.”

Queues were shorter at non-supermarket petrol stations, which are often more expensive, such as BP on the A14 eastbound and westbound and Jet in Rockingham Road Corby.

Halfords in Corby reported a jump in jerry can sales as drivers appeared to heed Cabinet Office Minister’s advice to stockpile fuel.

The store in Kettering said sales were about normal.

A spokesman from Sainsbury’s head office said: “We’ve been working hard to minimise the impact of this situation on our customers.

“At the moment our supply chain and delivery services are performing well thanks to the hard work of our colleagues and fuel suppliers.

“We are experiencing higher than usual demand for petrol and diesel, but currently the vast majority of our petrol filling stations are open and operating well.”