Panic at the fuel pumps

Petrol queues at Sainsbury's Archer Rd
Petrol queues at Sainsbury's Archer Rd
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PANIC buyers have been queuing at petrol pumps across South Yorkshire - with staff forced to act as forecourt marshals to prevent tempers fraying.

Motorists flocked to the pumps ignoring calls not to queue after the Government told drivers to fill up half-empty tanks.

Filling stations reported a massive increase in trade - with some running out of fuel because of the high demand.

A worker at the Tesco petrol station on Abbeydale Road, Sheffield, said it was ‘horrendous’ on the forecourt.

The employee said: “We opened at 6am and within 15 minutes we were busy and had queues.

“At certain points in the day we had people queuing on the main road outside - it was horrendous.

A Morrisons spokesman said staff at their petrol station on Poplar Way, Catcliffe, acted as marshals to reduce congestion and prevent arguments.

Motorist Gemma Vause, a teacher, aged 35, of Treeton, said: “I wouldn’t say I am panicking but when my car was on empty I went to the petrol station and put more in than I normally would have done, just to be on the safe side.”

Police urged today urged South Yorkshire motorists to stay calm and act responsibly as panic buying swept the pumps.

Temporary assistant chief constable Bob Sanderson said: “A strike is not imminent and the unions would have to give seven days’ notice of any strike, so there is no need to queue to buy petrol.

“We agree people should take sensible precautions, such as topping up their fuel tanks and using their vehicles economically. And if you do find a large queue at a petrol station, then please move onto the next available garage, to prevent any road safety issues.”

Panic has been sparked by 2,000 tanker drivers in the Unite union - who supply around 90 per cent of UK forecourts - threatening a strike over working conditions and pay.

Motorist Vicky Lincoln, aged 32, from Totley, said she visited the Tesco on Abbeydale Road at 9.30pm on Wednesday when it would normally be quiet, to find a queue of cars and only three pumps selling unleaded petrol.

She said: “The government advised people to fill up, everyone has got to get to places and I needed petrol so I filled up. It is normally very quiet at that time but I had to queue for about 15 minutes.”

Filling stations reported a huge surge in trade.

Sal Alsadon, of Darnall Service Station, Sheffield, said: “We are very busy because of panic buying but we have lots in the ground and deliveries planned.

“There is no need to panic but people with businesses are queuing up because they don’t want to run out. People need to calm down.”

Elaine Bosworth, a petrol attendant at Sainsbury’s on Vulcan Road, near Meadowhall, Sheffield, said: “We have got two filling stations and they have both been very busy.

“There have been short queues but they are not queuing off the forecourt yet. We’ve managed to keep them flowing.

“People are denying they are panic buying and many are saying they need to fill up anyway and are driving off vapours but then they are filling their cars right up.”

Duminda Rathnayakage, sales assistant at Shell on Netherthorpe Road, said: “It has been really busy because people are panicking. We have got almost no diesel.”

Mark Elliott, manager of Mega on City Road, said: “We have seen panic buying but we have still got plenty of fuel. On Wednesday we sold double what we’d normally sell. It has been really busy but people are not queuing off the forecourt. We have got plenty of supplies and a tanker coming in on Friday.”

Jackie Riley, manager of BP on Bramall Lane, said: “We’ve not had people trying to fill drums up but there has been a steady flow and we can cope with two tills going. ”

In Doncaster The Pitstop in Church Street, Armthorpe, described business as ‘manic’ and some pumps had been shut down but they still had supplies and more were expected today.

Iqbal Patel, of Shell, Bentley Road, said they had plenty of fuel but demand was ‘very high’.

But many motorists were not caught up in the panic buying.

Anthony Forder, 30, a counsellor for the deaf, from Carter Knowle, said: “I drive to Doncaster every day and Manchester once a week for work so having access to petrol is essential to my livelihood. The public transport is too slow and fragmented to rely on so having a car is mandatory - but I haven’t filled up yet.”

James McVeigh, 31, from Hunters Bar, who works at the University of Sheffield, said: “I am really not bothered by this because I only live half an hour’s walk from home but, that said, I am going to Manchester tomorrow and I haven’t got much petrol in the car so I hope I can get some.”

David Allen, 47, a health and safety manager, from Dinnington, said he saw a huge queue of motorists at Catcliffe Morrisons.

He said: “I was merely an astonished spectator. The queue was so long that Morrison’s had to deploy five traffic marshals in order to maintain traffic continuity and organisation. I wouldn’t expect that it is too long before they run dry.”