Petrol-hungry motorists were urged to remain calm today as lakhs of people went back to work.
Many had spent the weekend struggling to refuel in the crowded courtyards – up to 90 percent running dry.
Fights broke out and there were fears that schools might close and care homes could run out of food.
The government insisted there was no shortage of fuel and defended plans to send foreign drivers to transport the tankers. But critics slammed the plan as “throwing a drop of water on the bonfire”.
Last night the government agreed to break competition rules so that big fuel companies can work together to supply the sectors most affected by shortages.
Appealing for calm, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the crisis was being caused by panic and insisted it would eventually resolve on its own.
He insisted: “There is a lot of fuel within the country.
“If people normally fill cars, you won’t have queues and you won’t have shortages at the pump.”
no time to drive
Drivers desperate for petrol stand in line night and day over the weekend – as fuel crisis rages on the garage courtyard.
Some traded punches as their frustration flared up while they waited for hours before a new working week for millions of Britons.
Read our Petrol Crisis Live Blog for live updates on the crisis
The minister will keep the army on standby to start fuel delivery, it was reported last night.
The Times said Operation Escaline – the 2019 blueprint designed to handle the fallout from a no deal Brexit – was “highly likely” in action this week.
But it could take up to a week for them to be redeployed and ministers expect the crisis to be over by then.
Roads near petrol stations were blocked yesterday – making it difficult, if not impossible, for buses and emergency vehicles to pass through. An ambulance also collided with the back of a car in the queue.
One caregiver described how he tried every single petrol station in a town to fill up his tank to make important calls to vulnerable people – but still got no fuel.
Another motorist was forced to spend the night in his car after it dried up at a service station. Yesterday the Petrol Retailers Association said tanker deliveries and a lack of panic buying had left “between 50 percent to 90 percent” of its members’ garages.
The scene came after the government insisted that there was no shortage of fuel or there was any need to panic.
The man who scolded me was kicking so the other boy tried to pacify him and they got into a fight.
Amy, 35, of east London
But last night it agreed to break competition rules so that big fuel companies can work together to address gasoline shortages in parts of Britain.
Business Secretary Quasi Quarteng held critical talks with industry leaders, which will see the suspension of laws so companies can share information with each other.
Fears were growing yesterday that the problem – due to a lack of delivery drivers – could force schools to close and care homes running out of food.
Supermarkets registered huge demand and thousands of garages imposed a £30 limit to conserve supply.
Theater producer Amy Smith witnessed three ugly incidents when she tried to fill out South Mims on A1/M25. Amy, 35, from East London, said: “I tried to pull the ambulance in by pulling it aside at the big intersection leading into the service station. A boy thought I was trying to push in and got out of his car and Started abusing me.
“He was saying, ‘Everyone needs to queue, even the f******* ambulance.’ That’s when there was a scuffle between the pumps. The man who scolded me, He was kicking so the other boy tried to pacify him and they got into a fight.
‘Not enough to cover all my care calls’
“Then the man in front of me was holding everyone. I asked if I could help but he got angry and said, ‘Are you trying to push in?’ Then he pushed me. I jumped into my car trembling and shut the doors. ”
An ambulance collided with a car queuing for petrol in Bromley, south London, when it was trying to cross a gridlocked road.
One witness said: “The ambulance stopped the siren, parked and went to talk to the people in the car, exchanging details as they should by law. But there was probably a victim somewhere with immediate medical attention.” has been left in a desperate state of aid.”
The London Ambulance Service said: “As a result of the incident, a separate crew attended the patient.” Motorist Shane Pierson, 63, ran low on fuel as he made his home to Suffolk from the Ripon race in North Yorkshire. Without luck, after trying garages around Ritford, Norfolk, he turned to Markham Moor Services on the A1, but said both the northbound and southbound were out of fuel.
He continued: “I hardly had anything in the tank so I had to sleep overnight in my car. The pumps reopened the next morning.”
Kent-based care worker Michelle Keutenius said yesterday: “At 8 a.m. I went to every single petrol station in Folkestone. Nobody had fuel and I didn’t have enough to cover all my care calls.”
This country is full of fuel but it is the wrong place for the driver.
PRA President Brian Maderson
BP disclosed about 30 percent of its service stations – on many motorways – “currently have none of the main grades of fuel”. Brian Maderson, president of the Petrol Retailers Association – which represents about 5,500 independent outlets – said the forecourts were not already dry “partially dry and soon running out”.
He added: “There’s a lot of fuel in this country but it’s in the wrong place for the motorist.”
A war of words erupted over who is to blame for the crisis – which threatens to roll by Christmas, with turkeys and even supplies of toys at risk.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps defended plans to ship in an emergency force of foreign HGV drivers by issuing 5,000 temporary visas. He insisted there was “a lot of fuel” after checking with six refineries and 47 storage centres.
But Mr Shapps told Times Radio that the shortage of truck drivers “could take years to fully ease”. However, he was confident that his offer of 5,000 visas would reduce the “100 to 200” shortage of fuel tanker drivers he said was now needed.
He predicted that the queues would begin to “solve” themselves – partly due to the difficulty of stashing petrol. Tory MP Ben Everitt said: “Where the garages end up, it’s because of the panic.”
Where garages have ended is because of panic.
Tory MP Ben Everita
But the British Chambers of Commerce said the government’s plan was the equivalent of “throwing a drop of water on the bonfire”, while the Road Haulage Association said it “barely scratches the surface”.
Freight industry group Logistics UK welcomed the move, but said the country needed around 90,000 HGV drivers – 15,000 less than the level needed to keep shelves stocked with supermarkets alone.
Hannah Essex, co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Efforts to address the shortage of HGV drivers are a step forward, but it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the enormous impact of the current labor shortage. “
Truckers feeling totally worthless
By Billy Diamond, 64, Driver for 35 Years, Works
Last week, I covered 42 hours of driving, 63 hours of total work time over five days, and 1,820 miles.
Driving a 44-ton vehicle is no easy task, it requires a lot of attention. At the end of each shift, I went to a truck stop, cooked my food and slept in my cab.
In the pandemic, we were the main workers. I never took a vacation full time, but now people are starting to realize how important we are.
We work very hard and we want to be treated with respect, with better conditions. But we are made to feel worthless.
In Europe, drivers do not have to pay to park overnight and are waived as a priority when they go for fuel, as they are seen as an essential service.
Now we are going to get another influx of foreign workers who will cut our wages. I have no problem with someone wanting to make a better life for themselves, but they need to work for what we work for.
Stuffing is made out of hum drivers. I would not recommend this industry to anyone.