Van drivers can expect longer than usual queues for petrol this morning after a government minister encouraged motorists to fill up whenever possible and store fuel in jerry cans.
With the threatened strike action by tanker drivers hanging over the country as it approaches the Easter break, motorists have started panic buying, causing long queues at petrol stations throughout the country and leading to some garages running out of fuel. Commercial drivers accustomed to driving to tight schedules are now facing delays due to what is now being described as ill thought advice by a cabinet minister.
Yesterday David Cameron chaired a meeting of ministers to discuss the implications of a strike by tanker drivers and it was after the meeting that Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude suggested drivers could prepare for a strike by filling up any spare Jerry cans they have full of fuel. The message was widely reported in the press and TV and within hours queues were developing at garage forecourts across the UK. Opposition MPs as well as motoring organisations were quick to criticise the minister’s statement saying not only was it scaremongering but dangerous. Safety experts confirmed that members of the public should not store that amount of fuel and van insurance providers said private delivery drivers should not be storing fuel in the same place as their vehicle at any time.
The Unite trade union that represents the tanker drivers involved in the dispute have been quick to say that no date for a strike has been announced and they are hopeful that the dispute won’t even lead to a strike. They also pointed out the public would have plenty of time to fill their tanks up anyway as they would have to give seven days notice of any strike action.