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April 4 - 10 2012 No. 1080
THE WEEKLY WORLD EDITION OF The Daily Telegraph AND The Sunday Telegraph telegraph.co.uk/expat
THEHEATIS ON England close to losing their No1 status
:: SPORT PAGE 44
Rural victory Campaigners cheer planning reform changes :: NEWS P3
By James Kirkup and James Hall PANIC buying broke out at petrol stations throughout the country last week as ministers were accused of spreading fear by telling motorists to stock up on fuel in case of a strike by tanker drivers.
Some filling stations ran out and others began rationing petrol and diesel after ministers’ warnings of a major disruption to fuel supplies.
Tanker drivers from the Unite trade union have voted for industrial action, raising the prospect of a strike that could affect supplies to 90 per cent of fuel stations.
No date has been set for a strike, but ministers had suggested that action could begin as soon as this week, disrupting the Easter weekend.
Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, urged motorists last Wednesday to consider storing petrol at home. “As and when, when it makes sense, a bit of extra fuel in a jerrycan in the garage is a sensible precaution to take,” he said.
Soon afterwards, David Cameron suggested that drivers should fill their tanks. “If there is an opportunity to top up your tank if a strike is potentially on the way, then it is a sensible thing if you are able to do that,” he said.
In York, a 46-year-old woman suffered 40 per cent burns when petrol ignited as she was pouring it from a jerrycan into a jug in her kitchen. Mr Cameron said
A petrol station in Brighton was one of many forced to close after panic buying by motorists led to its supplies finally running out that his “heart goes out” to Diane Hill, who was critically ill in hospital last week.
She suffered injuries to her hands, face and back when her clothes ignited as she poured out petrol for her daughter, Grace, at their home in York.
Two hours earlier, Miss Hill, 18, had written on Twitter that she was low on fuel but had no money, and was worried about petrol stations running out of supplies.
Mrs Hill was pouring the petrol from a jerrycan into a glass jug for her daughter’s hatchback when the vapour was ignited by the gas cooker at 6pm last Thursday. As Mrs
Hill jumped in shock, the jar tipped over, spilling petrol all over her clothes, which went up in flames.
On Friday, Mr Cameron ordered tanker drivers to extend their working hours, and the Government said on Saturday that it was no longer urgent to fill up because Unite had ruled out any strike action before Easter, and warned against queuing for fuel.
Organisations representing 999 crews warned that lives could be put at risk if the Government did not put into action the National Emergency Plan for Fuel to relieve the pressure on filling stations. The emergency fuel plan to close designated forecourts to all but essential vehicles can be put in place within 24 hours, but so far, ministers have refused to consider it.
Paul Maloney, the southern England regional secretary for the GMB union, which represents ambulance drivers, said there had been “widespread” problems in getting hold of fuel.
“Crews are telling us that they can’t fill their tanks up fully. They are going around low on fuel, with half-empty tanks or worse, when they should be full,” he said. “Ambulances are having to wait in line and are being rationed just like everybody else. The Government needs to introduce emergency measures.”
One fuel industry leader said in a leaked email to the Department of Energy that the country was in the grip of “insanity”, which was “self-inflicted” following the Government’s advice to motorists to fill their tanks, despite a threatened strike by tanker drivers being at least 10 days away.
By Saturday, some petrol stations had put up the price of unleaded petrol by up to 10p a litre after earlier
Continued on page 2
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