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Sainsbury's in Otford only offering fuel to emergency services


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A supermarket petrol station is now only allowing emergency service workers to get fuel.

The Sainsbury's in Otford put up a sign at the entrance to the forecourt which said 'emergency services fuel only'.

The move comes at the end of the third day of motorists facing long queues as they try and get petrol ready for work for the week.

Thousands of petrol stations have run out of fuel after the first sign of problems resulted in 'frenzied' panic buying.

It began on Thursday night as BP announced it was "experiencing fuel supply issues at some of our retail sites in the UK" and had to temporarily close a handful of sites. This included two in Maidstone.

On Friday, petrol stations were swamped as drivers began panic buying and causing congestion across the county.

This has carried on throughout the weekend leaving motorway services empty and the price of fuel began to soar.

Sainsbury's petrol station in Otford is only open for emergency services. Picture Alex Jee
Sainsbury's petrol station in Otford is only open for emergency services. Picture Alex Jee

Meanwhile, the government has announced plans to solve problems by filling the shortage of HGV drivers - the main cause of the issues.

A temporary visa scheme will see 5,000 foreign HGV drivers allowed into the UK on three-month contracts up to Christmas Eve in an attempt to tackle fuel delivery difficulties.

Letters to nearly one million people with HGV licences will be sent out over the next few days convincing them to return now wages have risen.

The visa plan has been heavily criticised.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the “limited scope” of the government’s announcement had “surprised many” and called for a “Cobra-like” committee to help alleviate the short term pressures being experienced as the economy bounces back after the coronavirus pandemic.

Queuing traffic waiting to access a petrol station in Wigmore, near Rainham (51577871)
Queuing traffic waiting to access a petrol station in Wigmore, near Rainham (51577871)

Union Unite said the visa initiative was an invitation to “plunder workers from other nations” that amounted to “propping up a broken and exploitative system”.

The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents almost 5,500 independent outlets, said around two-thirds of its members were reporting that they had sold out of fuel, with the rest of them “partly dry and running out soon”.

During Sunday broadcast interviews, Mr Shapps called for the public to be “sensible” and only fill up their cars when needed as there is “plenty of fuel” available.

But he admitted to Times Radio that the truck driver shortage could take “years to fully unwind”. The Cabinet minister admitted he “didn’t want” to allow foreign workers in to fill the workforce gaps, having said only on Friday that importing labour could drive down wages, but said the government had acted to reassure queueing motorists.

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