Fears of petrol shortages across London have caused a spree in panic buying from desperate drivers, despite the Government urging motorists to “carry on as normal”.
There have been reports of arguments breaking out at petrol stations and drivers blocking each other from getting fuel.
South London has been badly hit on Friday (September 24) with the Mottingham BP garage running out of petrol by late morning, queues building on the Sidcup By-Pass to get to the Shell station on Sidcup Road and 20 minute long queues to just get onto the forecourt of the Shell garage on Footscray Road, New Eltham.
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The Transport Secretary has tried to dissuade drivers from panic buying petrol, after BP was forced to close down a handful of its forecourts across the country.
Grant Shapps said on Friday that motorists should “carry on as normal”.
“The advice would be to carry on as normal, and that is what BP is saying as well,” he told Sky News.
At the moment West London has the least reports on social media of shortages across the capital.
One Twitter user described desperate drivers trying to grab fuel in East London, she said: “A man cut me off and blocked me on my way into an ASDA supermarket car park.
“He was so desperate to get into the petrol station which was jammed.”
Photos from Maidenhead and Leeds showed cars trying to reach the pumps on Friday morning. This hasn’t stopped people living in other parts of the country throwing shade at Londoners.
“To all the people in London panic buying petrol and creating an unnecessary shortage – you are all complete morons,” an angry Twitter wrote.
(Image: PA Wire/PA Images)
Another Twitter user spoke of heightened tension in East London with ‘two men squaring up to each other and swearing’ because of the frustration long queues at the pumps had caused.
On Thursday BP said it had closed a “handful” of its petrol forecourts due to a lock of available fuel.
A “small number” of Tesco refilling stations have also been impacted, said Esso owner ExxonMobil, which runs the sites.
To the BBC’s Today programme Mr Shapps promised he would do what is needed to ensure that petrol gets to drivers.
“I’ll move heaven and Earth to do anything that’s required to make sure that lorries carry on moving our goods and services and petrol around the country,” he said.
He denied that Brexit was the culprit in the UK’s recent shortage of lorry drivers, arguing that the split from the European Union has helped the Government react.
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At a meeting a week ago BP reportedly told the Government that the company was struggling to get fuel to its forecourts.
Its head of UK retail Hanna Hofer described the situation as “bad, very bad”, according to a report by ITV News.
BP had “two-thirds of normal forecourt stock levels required for smooth operations”, she said, adding that the level is “declining rapidly”.
On Thursday Rod McKenzie of the Road Haulage Association trade body said that the Government had allowed the driver shortage to get “gradually worse” in recent months.
“We have got a shortage of 100,000 (drivers),” he told BBC’s Newsnight.
“When you think that everything we get in Britain comes on the back of a lorry, whether it’s fuel or food or clothes or whatever it is, at some point, if there are no drivers to drive those trucks, the trucks aren’t moving and we’re not getting our stuff.”
He added: “I don’t think we are talking about absolutely no fuel or food or anything like that, people shouldn’t panic buy food or fuel or anything else, that’s not what this is about.
“This is about stock outs, it’s about shortages, it’s about a normal supply chain being disrupted.”