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Medway traders hit by fence panel shortage following storms

By Jenni Horn

Medway has been hit by a fence panel shortage with tradesmen being forced to turn customers away in the wake of the winter’s storm damage.

DIY chains and hardware stores across the UK have run out of traditional lap fencing as demand has been driven up by the gales which have battered the nation since December.

The shortage has left people unable to replace garden fences

Del Peters, who owns Lakeside Timber in Napier Road, Gillingham, said they have had two instances where more than 300 panels have sold out in two days following high winds but now they can’t get hold of more supplies.

“We are waiting five or six weeks for panels,” he said. “We usually get them from a supplier in Shropshire but they can’t keep up with demand. We have been in business 25 years and it is the first time anything like this has happened.”

He added: “We can get a different kind of fence panel but they cost 50% more than the traditional ones so we either have to turn customers away or they have to pay for the dearer panels.”

It is a similar story at Payless Builders Merchants in Laker Road, Rochester, where they have seen the price of fence panels rise by 30%.

Managing director Kul Mattu said: “We just haven’t got the stock so we have had to turn people away. We haven’t been able to get any stock since January.

"We have had customers pay for orders and we are still waiting for supplies so we have had to stop that now and turn down custom.”

“We are witnessing demand that is upwards of five times the normal level” - John Gomersall at Forest Garden

It has been reported panels are now being offered on the black market, with some panic buyers paying up to £80 per panel - four times the usual price.

There are even reports of a spate of fence thefts as people turn to crime to replace damaged panels but police were unable to confirm if there has been a rise.

Forest Garden, which supplies fencing to Travis Perkins and Homebase in Chatham, and Dobbies Garden Centre in Gillingham, has taken on 100 new staff to keep up with demand.

Sales and marketing director John Gomersall said: “We are witnessing demand that is upwards of five times the normal level, and still increasing.”

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