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First signs of panic at the pumps as drivers warned price of petrol 'will double'!!


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First signs of panic at the pumps as drivers warned price of petrol 'will double'


By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 6:14 PM on 11th June 2008


Crucial talks aimed at averting a strike by hundreds of tanker drivers were held today amid signs some drivers were panic-buying petrol.

As long trails of cars formed on garage forecourts, industry insiders predicted petrol would rise to 230p a litre.

Leaders of the Unite union met officials of two companies working on Shell contracts in a bid to resolve a row over pay.


Motorists queue up at a petrol station in Aintree, Merseyside, today


Queues had also formed at Tesco superstore filling station in Fforestfach, Swansea

The talks looked likely to adjourn later and continue tomorrow, with time running out on averting a four-day stoppage from 6am on Friday.

One in 10 filling stations across the UK could be hit by the strike.

The Government has urged drivers not to panic-buy fuel, but there were queues at some garages today with one woman admitting: 'I am panic buying.'

A Downing Street spokesman said: 'We want the public to continue to buy as normal so as to avoid creating problems that might otherwise not exist.'

Contingency plans include allowing suppliers to share information about stocks without falling foul of competition laws.

Fuel supplies to the emergency services would also be maintained in the event of shortages.






The pay row has erupted because members of Unite claim they are paid the same now as they were in 1992, just under £32,000 a year, despite their working week being 11 hours longer.


Bernie Holloway, spokesman for Hoyer, the biggest of the two transport companies involved in the dispute, said it was 'disappointing' that Unite had rejected an improved pay offer last week.

'We believe this was a very good offer that would take the average driver's pay up to around £39,000,' he said.


Driving instructors from Sunderland on a 'go slow' protest' at the rising cost of fuel


The company said its improved offer, made during a meeting last week, was worth 6.8%.

Unite repeated its call for Shell to get involved in the dispute and stop 'sitting on its hands'.

Unite assistant general secretary Len McCluskey said: 'It is no use Shell bosses, who have themselves enjoyed 15%-plus pay increases in the last year, sitting on their hands.

'They should start focusing on avoiding the disruption this will cause to the general public, who are already mindful of the staggering profits Shell rakes in.


'Shell tanker drivers are earning exactly the same today as they were 15 years ago while working for a company that makes £1.3 billion every month, profits our members' hard work helps deliver.


'So Unite is saying to Shell bosses, stop hiding behind your sub-contractor and help us sort out a solution.'

However, the petrol giant is refusing to get involved, and has reiterated calls for the two sides to resolve the dispute.


A spokesman for the Business Department said it was 'inevitable' that some petrol stations would run out of fuel if the industrial action went ahead.

'If the strike were to affect other retailers it would have a more significant impact,' he added.


The Petrol Retailers Association said it had not received any reports of panic buying from members.


Petrol sales had remained steady, although buying patterns suggested households were using second cars less frequently.


A spokesman said: 'Anecdotally our members are saying petrol consumption is staying the same, but consumers are using it differently.


'It could be that people are doing more errands in one journey and leaving their second cars at home.'

Despite the reassurances, queues began building at one petrol station near Aintree in Liverpool.


Delays: Motorists wait at a Sainsburys garage, in Wigan, Lancs

By 1pm at the Asda petrol station near Aintree racecourse, staff put up a sign saying that they had run out of diesel.


Dave Alty, one of the Asda porters who placed the sign on the forecourt, said: 'We are normally quite busy here but drivers are just panicking today.


'There were around 40 cars queuing this morning. Drivers are saving up their petrol.'

Driver Amanda Holland, 40, an account manager for Yellow Pages who lives near Buxton in Derbyshire, said: 'I am panic buying. I live in Derbyshire and I have already had calls from friends who are working in different cities including Manchester saying there are people queuing.'

Warnings that a litre of unleaded could hit 230p followed Russian energy giant Gazprom's prediction that crude oil was set to sky-rocket to $250 a barrel 'in the forseeable future'.


It peaked last week at a fraction under $140.

Diesel prices are poised to soar past £6 a gallon.





Fuel rationing could be imposed on motorways and in isolated rural areas to prevent drivers becoming stranded. Motorists would be limited to a £20 fill-up.


Supplies would be prioritised for essential users including the police, emergency services, hospitals and the armed forces.


But there are fears the 'don't panic' call could make things worse if it simply alerts drivers to possible shortages.

It has emerged drivers have already started to cut back on the on the amount of fuel they used because of the soaring costs.

'British motorists are clearly driving less,' according to the International Energy Agency.


It said filling stations sold an average of 350 million barrels a day in March compared with 445 million a year ago, a 20 per cent fall.

Meanwhile a survey found that one in six commuters said the cost of driving to work had made them consider quitting their job and looking for work closer to home.


The research, by insurance comparison website insurance.co.uk, found that the average commuter had seen fuel bills rise 21 per cent over the past year.

Driving instructors also joined the protest today by staging a 'go slow' through Sunderland city centre.

Cars were emblazoned with the logo: 'Get off our backs, cut the fuel tax.'


One onlooker said: 'It caused traffic chaos in the city but most people didn't mind.

'The fuel tax is hitting everyone who drives so they got a lot of support.'





article-1025495-0190CF0E00000578-387_468x316.jpg There were also queues at petrol stations in the Midlands today

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