How motorists coped today at Norfolk’s and Suffolk’s petrol stations ahead of threatened fuel strike
14:46 29 March 2012
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Some petrol stations have closed and long queues are continuing into the evening despite calls for motorists to stop panic-buying fuel.
The potential strike action has not been confirmed and conciliation talks will not begin until Monday at the earliest. But although there is no national shortage of fuel, filling stations in the region have been overwhelmed by demand from motorists trying to stockpile supplies.
Earlier today, the Esso in Mile Cross Lane in Norwich ran out of diesel and petrol. It is not known when they will get their next delivery.
It was the same situation at the Mousehold Lane Esso station with no news on when a delivery will arrive.
As of 1.50pm, Hemsby service station had run out of fuel, with no news on the next delivery.
At the BP at the Hall Road roundabout, near the Hewett School, there were long queues but most drivers insisted they were not “panic buying” but needed the fuel for long journeys or because they were genuinely running low.
Elsewhere in Norwich, the Sainsbury’s filling station on Queens Road saw queues of motorists trying to buy petrol from the pumps for a number of hours.
An attendant at the station said there had been a queue of cars for much of the day.
The Sainsbury’s store at Pound Lane, Thorpe St Andrew and Tesco store at Blue Boar Lane, Sprowston, were also descended on by queues of motorists.
It was a similar situation at Morrisons on Riverside with about 10 cars queuing back to try and get into the petrol station at about 1pm.
But the Jet garage on Cattle Market Street, near Rose Lane, remained relatively clear throughout the day.
In Great Yarmouth, queues of motorists stretched back from the petrol station forecourt into the car park at both Asda and Tesco Extra.
Both had diesel and petrol stocks, though Tesco had run out of the Momentum line of petrol.
But the Jet petrol station in Southtown Road was out of stock at around 10am today, with a sign on the pumps telling motorists: “Sorry no fuel”.
However, some diesel pumps at the BP petrol station on the A47 near Swaffham were closed because of a leak, rather than a fuel shortage.
In West Norfolk there were reports of filling stations being busier than usual, but no real signs of panic-buying.
King’s Lynn’s Asda store saw queues of cars yesterday evening as motorists attempted to fill-up and the town’s Tesco was also busier than usual.
Broomhill Garage near Downham Market ran out of diesel, with a delivery due this afternoon, and the forecourt had been busier than normal, according to a spokesman.
The Shell garage in Gaywood, King’s Lynn, was also busy, but a spokesman said “it’s not chaotic, just busy,” and he added that the site had not run out of fuel.
Both Total garages in the area, one on the A47 at West Walton and the other at the Pullover Roundabout, King’s Lynn, were busier than usual but again reported no major problems.
This afternoon motorists turned to Beccles for petrol and diesel with some travelling from Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft to get fuel.
The petrol stations in the market town saw an increase in trade during the day, but not the long queues seen in other places in the region.
However, as the day has gone on the BP garage on the A146, in nearby Gillingham, said they had got increasingly busy as customers drove miles to get their fuel from them.
A spokesman said: “Everyone was coming in saying that all of them in Norwich and Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft are all out of fuel.”
The station was at least three times busier than normal, and despite a tanker visit in the morning they were needing another visit later tonight or early tomorrow morning.
At 2pm all pumps at Tesco, Morrisons and Total garages in the town were in use, with only one or two cars waiting in line.
A spokesman for the Morrisons station in George Westwood Way said they had seen queues for the last three days, with today 40-50pc busier than normal, however they had no problem with the supply.
In Halesworth, Hammond garage, in Norwich Road, ran out of diesel this afternoon but had a delivery scheduled for today, while the Co-operative filling station in Saxons Way, Halesworth, also had queues and expect to run out of diesel.
Queues have also been seen at the Co-operative filling station in Hillside Road East, in Bungay however no-one from the station was prepared to comment on the subject.
There was petrol panic in Lowestoft this afternoon as two of the town’s main filling stations closed.
The petrol stations at the Tesco on Leisure way and the Asda on Horn Hill closed leading to motorists trying to find other filing stations.
It is not known when they will re-open.
There was a large queue at the nearby Jet Garage on Yarmouth Road with frustrated drivers beeping their horns at the hold up.
The Morrisons petrol station in South Lowestoft was still open and said it has been “extremely busy” but it would not run out of petrol.
In Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft, the Carlton Colville Service Station on the Street said by late morning that it had seen the number of people buying petrol shoot up three fold compared to an average day.
Paul Corbett, who works there said: “It has been very, very busy.”
He added the petrol panic was the number one topic of conversation of customers.
Waitrose and BP petrol stations in Swaffham both said petrol sales had doubled yesterday, and they were very busy again today.
A worker at the Waitrose petrol station in Turbine Way, Swaffham, said: “Most people said ‘Isn’t it silly people are panic buying’.
“Today it’s very, very busy again. I expect we will sell double the usual sales again today.”
Motorists at the BP station on the A47 bypass were queuing up to the A47 this morning, but the petrol supplies were described as adequate following a scheduled delivery.
Swaffham service station in Lynn Road said it was a little busier than usual, but it had sufficient supplies.
Grahame Parrott, owner of Aerolite Garage in Norwich Road, Watton, said that yesterday’s sales were similar to three days worth of sales and today was no different.
He added: “People are panicking rather than listening to the news or other people.”
From this afternoon motorists have been limited to buying £20 worth of petrol and diesel to prevent it from running out over the weekend.
The garage is supplied by Murco Petrolium and the most recent delivery was made yesterday, which would normally last until the middle of next week.
Mr Parrott said that by this afternoon three quarters of that delivery had been sold and the next supply of unleaded petrol and diesel would arrive on Monday.
“Looking at how things are going at the moment we might run out over the weekend. I’m just hoping a lot of our locals have filled up,” he added.
At Dereham’s Morrisons petrol station, in Station Road, this afternoon there was a queue for fuel.
A delivery was made to the Lynn Hill Esso petrol station in London Road, Dereham, this afternoon but managing director Andrew Lawrence said he expected the supply to run out tomorrow (Friday) afternoon - a new delivery is due to be made on Saturday afternoon.
Earlier today a sign saying ‘Sorry No Fuel’ was at the entrance to the station forecourt.
There were long queues at the Morrisons garage at Diss this morning with staff on hand to direct drivers into the forecourt, off Victoria Road.
Stella Platford, who works at Morrisons petrol station in Fakenham said: “We have been incredibly busy. There have been queues 200 to 300 yards long all morning.
“We had a delivery this morning and we are not expected to run out of fuel any time soon but that has not stopped the panic.”
Sally Phillips, manager of Leftly’s petrol station in Burnham Deepdale, on the north Norfolk coast, said: “It’s been busier than normal but we are holding our own.
“We have got a delivery coming in tomorrow and one booked in for next week so we are not panicking.”
Queues also built up at some petrol stations in Norwich, including Morrisons at Riverside and the Sainsbury’s store at Pound Lane, Thorpe St Andrew.
Drivers are being warned not to panic buy after reports of a 45pc increase in the sale of unleaded fuel and a 20pc rise in the sale of diesel.
A Norfolk police spokesman said: “There is currently no shortage of fuel supply nationally or locally and people do not need to depart from their usual purchasing behaviour at this time.
“However, we are aware that demand is increasing at some filling stations around the county which may cause some short-term disruption.
“We remind motorists queuing for fuel that public carriageways must remain clear and not be blocked.
“People can be reassured that there is currently no impact on local policing services.
“We are, in line with government advice, currently reviewing our contingency plans to ensure our services can be protected and maintained in the event of strike action.
“Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service are advising against the storage of fuel at domestic premises.”
Andrew Lawrence, who owns garages in Hellesdon, Drayton, Dereham, Harleston and Sheringham and who is from Retail Motor Industry (RMI) Petrol, which represents independent petrol stations, said: “We’re extremely busy. Deliveries are just about coping with supply but the more the panic happens the more problems we’re going to get in running out of stock... Don’t panic – there’s plenty of supply if everyone works with a responsible attitude to the filling of their cars.”
Philip Dingle owner of the BP filling station off the A11 at Besthorpe, near Attleborough, said there had been a steady stream of drivers coming into the garage, but there were enough supplies to last until his next delivery.
“People are idiots. There is plenty of fuel out there and if people can not get it today, there is a good chance you can get fuel tomorrow. There is no strike and if there was they would have to give seven days notice,” he said.
In Thetford, a spokesman for the Esso filling station on Mundford Road said sales had been up by about 30pc, and warned the garage could run out of fuel before its next delivery on Saturday.
“If it comes late in the day we might run out, if not we might just have enough,” he said. “If I could have got a delivery before the weekend I would have but we have to give them three days notice when we place an order. “The thing is even if people fill up now, a strike won’t be for another week so they’ll have to fill up again by then.”
Meanwhile, the former Jet garage on Bury Road reported no signs of panic buying.
Are you filling up? Have you been to a station that has sold out? Have you got any photos of the queues at pumps or the ‘closed’ sign having gone up?
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