Panic at the pumps

PUBLISHED: 13:59 17 June 2008 | UPDATED: 21:55 15 June 2010

FUEL shortages caused chaos across the Axe Valley during a four day strike with panic buyers queuing up in the early hours of the morning.

FUEL shortages caused chaos across the Axe Valley during a four day strike - with panic buyers queuing up in the early hours of the morning.Tesco petrol station in Axminster reported that people started queuing on Monday at 5.30am - even though the tills do not open until 6am. And, by midday, fuel was limited to the emergency services.The strike, which started on Friday because of disputes between haulage firms contracted to Shell and their tanker drivers, caused a number of petrol stations to run dry.Others, such as the BP service station in Seaton Down Hill, Seaton, rationed fuel to prevent panic buying. A petrol station assistant said: "It's been mad. I think a lot of people have been panic buying. We've rationed fuel to £10 a person. "But many have just been getting what they need. I think the problem is both a result of panic buyers and the strike - where other drivers will not cross the picket line."Talks aimed at averting another strike this weekend failed to make a deal - and garage owners fear last weekend's frenzy will be repeated.Musbury Garage owner Julian Rinaldi said: "We received a delivery today (Tuesday) but, as demand was so high over the weekend, unleaded was unavailable for four hours. If it happens again, we could be back to the same situation."But Colyton Garage was one of the few to escape the affects of the strike.Director Chris Shepperd said: "We weren't noticeably affected - I'd say we were one of the lucky few. I should think it's unlikely to be a problem this weekend, but we will have to wait and see."Devon and Cornwall Police set up contingency plans to deal with any issues of disorder, which may occur as a result of any potential fuel shortages over the next few days. The force has stocks of fuel for its own vehicles, which will last months.

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