Fight breaks out on petrol station forecourt as panic-buying frustrations boil over

·3-min read

A fight broke out between a group of men at petrol station on Saturday, as tempers flared on some UK forecourts over fuel shortage concerns.

The brawl, reportedly between two families, took place at an Esso station in Chichester, West Sussex.

In a video of the fight recorded by onlookers, four men can be seen yelling at each other before a punch is thrown.

Two of the men then begin to fight, prompting others to join in. The altercation lasts for nearly a minute. 

The exact cause of the fight is unknown.

Since BP announced that it was rationing some fuel deliveries due to a shortage of HGV drivers on Thursday, petrol stations have been swamped with customers trying to fill up. The chaotic scenes have led to reports of altercations on a number of forecourts across the country.

Authorities have urged people to fill up as usual and avoid panic-buying behaviour, but long queues have developed at many stations and a handful of forecourts have been forced to close due to their inability to keep up with the unprecedented demand. BP has estimated that between 10 and 15 per cent of its some 1,200 filling stations in the UK have run out of one or more grades of fuel with a small number of them closed altogether.

Many people have rushed to the pumps to fill not only their tanks but also filling jerry cans, while long lines of drivers wait in queues, often honking their horns.

In an effort to avoid altercations like the one in Chichester on Saturday, some petrol stations have introduced £30 limits on all fuel purchases to avoid shortages.

Watch: Minister: Fuel crisis caused by Covid, not Brexit

The UK Petroleum Industry Association, the trade association responsible for the UK’s downstream oil sector, has said that distributors have been working tirelessly to replenish stocks, adding that there were no issues with “production, storage or import of fuels.”

A spokesperson said: “There has been an increase in demand for fuels this week which is above and beyond what is usual.

“There are no reported issues with the production, storage or import of fuels while distributors are working hard to replenish stocks at forecourts.

They added that “customers should continue to buy fuel as they would normally”.

Edward King, the head of the AA also reassured the public that issues surrounding fuel should pass in a matter of days, so long as drivers behave as normal.

Speaking on the BBC, Mr King said that the shortage of lorry drivers had only been a “localised problem” earlier in the week and added that the shortage had been exacerbated by “people going out and filling up when they really don’t need to”.

“If you think about it, 30 million cars out there, if they’ve all got a half a tank, if they all rush out to fill up the rest of the tank and the tank is about 60 litres, that will put a strain on the system,” he said.

On Saturday evening, the government announced it will extend temporary visas to 5,000 HGV drivers over the next three months, in order to limit disruption in the run-up to Christmas.

But the British Chambers of Commerce and the Road Haulage Association have criticised the plans as “insufficient” to alleviate the current shortfall which is estimated to be between between 90,000 and 100,000 HGV drivers.

Watch: Who is 'Insulate Britain'?

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