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Petrol stations swamped as drivers panic buy fuel amid HGV driver shortage


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Petrol stations in Kent continue to be swamped by motorists trying to fill their tanks while firms struggle with fuel deliveries.

But the head of the AA and government ministers have said there is no shortage and no need to panic buy.

Roads across the county have been snarled up as the government urges drivers to behave normally.

This evening, queues remain across the county, with particularly heavy traffic in St John's Road, Tunbridge Wells, and High Street, Strood.

There are reports of no fuel at motorway services including the London-bound M2 at Medway and at Junction 8 of the M20 at Leeds Castle.

This afternoon, there was a glimmer of hope when the Financial Times reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had agreed to relax visa rules to allow more foreign drivers to fill vacancies, although that is yet to be confirmed.

Earlier, aerial photographs showed cars backed up as they headed for the Sainsbury's petrol station in Pepper Hill, just off the A2.

Traffic queueing at Pepper Hill Sainsbury's Picture: Skyshark Media
Traffic queueing at Pepper Hill Sainsbury's Picture: Skyshark Media
Queuing traffic waiting to access a petrol station in Wigmore, near Rainham
Queuing traffic waiting to access a petrol station in Wigmore, near Rainham
The M20 Junction 8 services have run out of fuel
The M20 Junction 8 services have run out of fuel

David Charman, the owner of the Parkfoot petrol station in West Malling, confirmed the station had run out of unleaded but should have enough diesel to last so long as people stop panic buying.

He said: "We ran out of fuel for 24 hours, then we had more delivered yesterday afternoon and it has been crazy ever since.

"We have run out of unleaded and I don't know when my next delivery will be because there's plenty of fuel, but it's a struggle to get it into the tanks at petrol stations because of the lorry driver shortage.

"The message is only buy what you need otherwise nobody can keep up with the extra demand because we haven't got the three days of stock we normally have.

Motorists have been urged to stop panic buying
Motorists have been urged to stop panic buying
Traffic is backing onto the road at Park Foot in West Malling
Traffic is backing onto the road at Park Foot in West Malling

"Fortunately we always have four members of staff on our tills so we pride ourselves on having few queues.

"The shop is open as normal and when we ran out yesterday, it was just as busy even though we didn't have petrol customers coming in."

Similarly, some diesel pumps have already been emptied at the Morrisons petrol station in Sittingbourne, which has seen cars queuing along the road this morning.

Traffic also built up around Sainsbury's petrol station at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre in Gillingham.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We’re experiencing high demand for fuel. We’re working closely with our supplier to maintain supply and all our sites continue to receive fuel.”

In Herne Bay, a bus passenger reported that cars were pulling out in front and behind buses as they desperately tried to access a petrol station this evening.

"It was a very near miss," they said, adding: "The bus driver had to work hard to keep everyone safe."

In Herne Bay, cars were pulling out in front and behind buses as they tried to access a petrol station Pic: Kirsty H
In Herne Bay, cars were pulling out in front and behind buses as they tried to access a petrol station Pic: Kirsty H
In Herne Bay, cars were pulling out in front and behind buses as they tried to access a petrol station Pic: Kirsty H
In Herne Bay, cars were pulling out in front and behind buses as they tried to access a petrol station Pic: Kirsty H

Cars trying to get to the BP garage on the A2 in Bapchild, near Sittingbourne, caused long tailbacks in Teynham. On the A249, drivers were trying to access the service station at the top of Detling Hill.

All three of the garages on the Isle of Sheppey have been impacted by the same problem.

The Tesco station in Bridge Road has run out of diesel and had a sign in the road. Staff members in high vis jackets were at the garage entrance turning away any drivers who needed diesel.

There were queues outside the BP garage at Queenborough corner and even longer ones for Morrisons garage at Neats Court.

There are long queues for petrol at the Morrisons garage at Neats Court in Sheppey
There are long queues for petrol at the Morrisons garage at Neats Court in Sheppey
There are long queues in Morrisons, Sittingbourne
There are long queues in Morrisons, Sittingbourne
Pumps in Esso, Boxley Road Maidstone, are now completely empty
Pumps in Esso, Boxley Road Maidstone, are now completely empty

Elsewhere, there have also been reports of vehicles queuing for fuel on the hard shoulder of the London-bound A2 waiting to access the Cobham Services.

In east Kent, several stations in Ashford have reported long queues, with severe traffic building up near the Tesco petrol station on Park Farm.

There was a large queue forming in Folkestone, Dover, to get to the BP petrol station near the York Street roundabout. Traffic was snaking all the way back to the Malvern Road junction.

A queue forming at Folkestone Road, Dover, to get to a BP service station
A queue forming at Folkestone Road, Dover, to get to a BP service station

There were queues building up on the main road into Sandwich as motorists wait to go into the nearby Gulf station.

Sandwich resident Charles Harman said: "I'd say there is about a mile's worth of tailbacks on the main road already. That station is hand operated, so they really are going to be there for a while!"

People have also been queuing outside Sainsbury's in Northfleet.

There are lengthy queues outside Sainsbury's in Northfleet
There are lengthy queues outside Sainsbury's in Northfleet

KentOnline reporter Alex Langridge said: "Queues are already around the roundabout for quite a way back it seemed. Traffic was moving slowly but there are significantly more people queuing than usual."

Residents in Aylesford reported long queues to get into the Sainsbury petrol station in Quarry Wood Industrial Estate.

One person said the queues have become such a problem, a one-way system with marshalls was introduced. Another said when she visited, the traffic stretched along Hermitage Lane, almost as far as the hospital.

The pumps at Valley View garage in Rochester were reportedly completely empty, with motorists warned that there was no delivery expected today.

Asda confirmed it had temporarily closed the forecourt at the petrol station in Gravesend, in order to carry out a scheduled delivery. The company said the forecourt would open as soon as the delivery was completed.

The Esso garage in Boxley Road, Maidstone, was completely depleted of fuel, while the Texaco in Ashford road was queuing down the road.

Traffic is backed up by the Tesco garage in Ashford. Photo: Maggie-Lou Brocklehurst
Traffic is backed up by the Tesco garage in Ashford. Photo: Maggie-Lou Brocklehurst
The Texaco garage in Ashford Road, Maidstone, is queuing down the road
The Texaco garage in Ashford Road, Maidstone, is queuing down the road
The situation at Sainsbury's Bybrook in Ashford
The situation at Sainsbury's Bybrook in Ashford
Queues at the entrance to Sainsbury's Bybrook in Ashford
Queues at the entrance to Sainsbury's Bybrook in Ashford

The BP service station in Beaver Road, Ashford, had run out of diesel, while queues were continuing to form for petrol.

When asked about the fuel problems, AA President Edmund King commented that there was "no shortage of fuel", with the vast majority of stations working without issue beyond panic buying.

Grant Shapps said on Friday that motorists should “carry on as normal” as he tried to dissuade panic buying.

Ashford Service Station on the ring road is backed up
Ashford Service Station on the ring road is backed up
The BP in Beaver Road, Ashford, has run out of diesel
The BP in Beaver Road, Ashford, has run out of diesel
Traffic forming at the garage on the A2 in Bapchild, near Sittingbourne, causing long tailbacks into Teynham
Traffic forming at the garage on the A2 in Bapchild, near Sittingbourne, causing long tailbacks into Teynham
There are long queues for petrol at the Morrisons garage at Neats Court in Sheppey
There are long queues for petrol at the Morrisons garage at Neats Court in Sheppey
A sign informing drivers that the Tesco service station in Bridge Road, Sheppey, has run out of diesel
A sign informing drivers that the Tesco service station in Bridge Road, Sheppey, has run out of diesel

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