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Fuel crisis UK – live: 5,000 visas to solve HGV driver crisis as panic-buying causes traffic gridlock

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Ministers have announced plans to offer emergency visas to 5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers, in what businesses have dismissed as an “insufficient” attempt to tackle Britain’s fuel crisis.

However, the right for foreign lorry drivers to work in the UK will run out on Christmas Eve, triggering immediate criticism that the move will fail to halt the scenes of long queues at filling stations and fears of festive shortages.

The British Chambers of Commerce said the fix was “insufficient” and too short-term, while the British Retail Consortium said supermarkets alone needed 15,000 extra drivers for the Christmas season and that 5,000 visas would “do little to alleviate the current shortfall”.

It comes amid continued panic buying at petrol stations across the UK, which the chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, Brian Madderson, told Sky News is “going to get worse before it gets better” – and suggested it could affect emergency services and other “really serious jobs”.

The president of the AA, on the other hand, described the supply problems as a “temporary blip” caused by panic buying rather than fuel shortages.

Long queues continued to form at forecourts across the UK on Saturday morning despite pleas from ministers and police, who urged motorists to be “sensible” to prevent exacerbate the situation.

Some of the largest UK operators have already started to ration fuel, with EG Group setting a limit of £30 per customer at nearly 400 stations, while pumps at some BP, Esso, Tesco and Shell sites were closed.

Follow our live coverage below

Read More

Is there a shortage of fuel and why are petrol stations closing?

BP and Esso petrol stations closed as lorry driver shortage hits UK

Petrol shortage: Some Shell petrol stations run out of fuel as panic buying triggers ‘larger queues’

Key Points

  • Emergency visas for 5,000 foreign lorry drivers will run out on Christmas Eve...

  • ...as BCC warns U-turn ‘insufficient’ and too short-term

  • ‘A lot of people are going to go without fuel’, warns trade body

  • Hundreds of petrol stations set £30 fuel limit amid panic-buying

  • Petrol crisis only a ‘temporary blip’, says AA president

  • Social media erupts with criticism of HGV visa scheme

Ministers ‘blame ex-BBC boss for petrol pump crisis’

23:58 , Sam Hancock

PoliticsHome’s Adam Payne questions the government’s apparent attempts to shift blame for the fuel crisis away from Brexit and onto Rod McKenzie, as reported by the Mail on Sunday.

Recruitment boss throws support behind HGV visas

23:45 , Sam Hancock

In response to the announcement of temporary visas for foreign HGV drivers to ease the driver shortages, Neil Carberry, the chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), said:

“It’s good to see government has finally listened to the REC and logistics industry bodies and introduced temporary visas for HGV drivers. This is a welcome step that should provide relief to companies and consumers across the UK, helping to get fuel to petrol stations and put food on shelves.

“It will help to fill crucial vacancies while the sector works with government on measures to train and attract more home-grown drivers.

“These changes must now be rolled out quickly and in partnership with the industry to ensure it works for everyone.”

BBC reporter Phil McCann goes viral after reporting on fuel crisis

23:35 , Sam Hancock

‘About time’ ministers relaxed HGV driver visa rules, says Iceland boss

23:25 , Sam Hancock

Richard Walker, managing director at Iceland supermarket, said it was “about time” ministers relaxed immigration rules in a bid to solve the HGV driver shortage.

It comes as a three-month visa scheme was announced by the government to allow 5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers to take up employment in the UK until Christmas Eve.

Mr Walker told PA:

“I’m sure I speak for all retail leaders in saying that this announcement is critical in terms of easing the situation and quickly getting much-needed stock through supply chains - and it’s about time.

“It is unfortunate that this situation has now created a fuel crisis.

“Until this eases key workers including food retail workers need to be prioritised at the pumps so that we can keep hospitals operating and food shops open, and the nation safe and fed.

“HGV drivers are skilled workers and their contribution to keeping the country going should never be underestimated again.”

Social media erupts with criticism of HGV visa scheme

23:12 , Sam Hancock

BCC: ‘We face the very real prospect of serious damage to our economic recovery’

23:00 , Sam Hancock

Here’s what Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, president of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said of the visa U-turn today.

“The supply of EU labour was turned off with no clear roadmap as to how this transition would be managed without disruption to services and supply chains.

“Now some action has been taken, but additional testing will take time and the low number of visas offered is insufficient.

“Even if these short-term opportunities attract the maximum amount of people allowed under the scheme, it will not be enough to address the scale of the problem that has now developed in our supply chains. This announcement is the equivalent of throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire.

“Without further action, we now face the very real prospect of serious damage to our economic recovery, stifled growth as well as another less than happy Christmas for many businesses and their customers across the country.”

HGV visa scheme ‘insufficient’, says British Chambers of Commerce

22:45 , Sam Hancock

Here are some snippets from our deputy political editor Rob Merrick’s report on the 5,000 visas for HGV drivers.

The British Chambers of Commerce has branded the government’s U-turn on HGV driver visas “insufficient” and too short-term.

Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium said supermarkets alone needed 15,000 extra drivers for the Christmas season and that 5,000 visas would “do little to alleviate the current shortfall”.

“Christmas is about more than just food, so to avoid disappointment for millions of households during the festive season we urge the government to extend this programme,” said Andrew Opie, its director of food.

It comes after confirmation of a temporary visa scheme, which will see opportunities created for 5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers to take up employment in the UK until Christmas Eve, in a bid to keep supermarket shelves stocked with turkeys and toys and counter delivery difficulties at petrol stations.

The Road Haulage Association estimates the shortage being at 100,000 drivers, and partly blames Brexit for the crisis – something ministers have been criticised for refusing to accept.

Emergency visas for 5,000 foreign lorry drivers will run out on Christmas Eve

22:31 , Sam Hancock

Emergency visas for foreign lorry drivers to tackle the fuel crisis will run out at Christmas, ministers have announced, as businesses dismissed the move as no more than “throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire.”

As expected, 5,000 HGV drivers – together with 5,500 poultry workers – will be offered the right to work in the UK, a move repeatedly rejected by ministers despite warnings of a supply chain crunch.

But the visas will last only until Christmas Eve, triggering immediate criticism that the move will fail to halt the scenes of long queues at filling stations and fears of festive shortages.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more:

Emergency visas for 5,000 foreign lorry drivers will run out on Christmas Eve

Watch: Customer antagonises Londis petrol station staff

22:22 , Sam Hancock

Images from Saturday show the fuel crisis gripping Britons

21:05 , Sam Hancock

Cars queue outside petrol station in in Slough, Berkshire (PA)
Cars queue outside petrol station in in Slough, Berkshire (PA)
A Shell garage employee holds a sign on the side of the road informing a queue of traffic that they do not have unleaded petrol (Getty)
A Shell garage employee holds a sign on the side of the road informing a queue of traffic that they do not have unleaded petrol (Getty)
An aerial view shows customers queueing in their cars to access an Asda petrol station in east London (AFP via Getty Images)
An aerial view shows customers queueing in their cars to access an Asda petrol station in east London (AFP via Getty Images)
A man carrying multiple fuel containers at a Tesco petrol station in Bracknell, Berkshire (PA)
A man carrying multiple fuel containers at a Tesco petrol station in Bracknell, Berkshire (PA)
BBC reporter Phil McCann went viral on Saturday while reporting on the fuel crisis live from a petrol station (BBC Breakfast/iPlayer)
BBC reporter Phil McCann went viral on Saturday while reporting on the fuel crisis live from a petrol station (BBC Breakfast/iPlayer)

Petrol stations already rationing fuel due to panic buyers

20:42 , Sam Hancock

The president of the AA said earlier some petrol stations had already begun “rationing” the amount of fuel customers can buy, prioritising essential workers looking to fill up.

Mr King told ITV news: “Some petrol stations are rationing the amount of fuel and only allowing £30 to be purchased and that means it does go further so that essential workers can get fuel.

“Some garages are giving priority to essential workers, some delivery vehicles have been given priority.”

The motoring boss stressed, however, “there is plenty of fuel at source” and so issues would be a “short-term thing”.

Mr King said the majority of garages closed on Saturday should be reopened “within 24 to 48 hours once they are refilled”.

A closed petrol station in Ashford, Kent (PA)
A closed petrol station in Ashford, Kent (PA)

What is going on with the transport indsutry?

20:24 , Sam Hancock

LBC’s Ben Kentish asks the important question.

Timelapse footage shows queue for petrol stations

20:05 , Sam Hancock

Timelapse footage shows traffic queuing along the A325 towards a Shell garage in Farnborough, Hampshire, as motorists continue to fill their cars amid fuel crisis.

It also captures one motorist rocking his car in an attempt to get more fuel in his tank.

The president of the AA, Edmund King, says panic-buying, rather than supply chain issues, is the driving force of fuel shortage at some petrol stations.

Watch: Timelapse footage shows how long cars queue for to access petrol stations during UK fuel crisis

Taxi boss warns panic buying will endanger vulnerable people most

19:43 , Sam Hancock

A taxi chief has criticised panic buyers, saying black cab drivers are unable to fill their vehicles with fuel and warned vulnerable people are being left without essential transport.

David Lawrie, director of the National Private Hire and Taxi Association, based in Manchester, told the i newspaper:

“We’re in the same situation as the toilet roll panic buying at the start of the Covid crisis.

“There isn’t actually a real shortage of fuel, but a shortage is being created by the panic buying and people are filling their tanks up when they don’t actually need the fuel – and then some of them are actually booking taxis to take them places to preserve their own fuel.

“What they don’t seem to realise is that for taxi drivers, it is their living and if they can’t get fuel, they can’t work – and that has a huge knock-on effect on the public too.”

Mr Lawrie also warned that if the panic buying crisis continues, taxi drivers will have no choice but to stay at home and turn down work. He told i:

“Special education needs children won’t be able to be transported to school, the elderly, housebound and disabled won’t be able to leave their homes and vulnerable people won’t be able to go out and get their shopping. The problems are not down to a shortage of fuel, but because people are panic buying and some selfish people are even filling jerry cans to hoard.”

Journalist helps push a car into petrol station amid fuel crisis

19:05 , Sam Hancock

Footage shows a man pushing his car into a petrol station in Bristol, amid a lack of fuel caused by panic-buying, before he asks a journalist recording the long queues to help him.

The footage had to be muted in part because of the strong language used during the frustrating situation.

Long queues keep forming at forecourts across the UK, while ministers and police urged motorists not to panic-but and to be “sensible”.

Watch the clip here:

Watch: Journalist helps push a car into petrol station amid fuel crisis

AA: ‘Panic buying is the issue, not the supply chain’

18:50 , Sam Hancock

In case you missed this, the president of the AA criticised panic buyers and said it was this rather than supply chain issues which was “driving the shortage of fuel”.

Edmund King, the president of the AA (Automobile Association), told BBC Breakfast this morning the problem should pass in a matter of days if drivers stuck to filling up when they needed it, adding “there is plenty of fuel at source” and that a shortage of lorry drivers had only been a “localised problem” earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, Tony Danker, the director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said it was “a shame” that queues had to form before the government acted, but described ministers’ expected post-Brexit U-turn on visa rules for foreign HGV drivers as “a huge relief”.

Mr Danker told the BBC: “Hopefully it is going to happen and it is a huge relief. We’ve been calling for it for three months, we could see this problem coming and more problems coming, and so it’s a shame the government needed queues at the pumps to move, but move I hope they have and it will help.”

Frustrated customers fight on Esso forecourt

18:11 , Sam Hancock

Shocking footage shows the moment a massive brawl breaks out as frustrated customers fight on Esso forecourt amid UK fuel crisis.

It is believed to have started over fuel with video showing parents scuffling on the car bonnet and the younger boys fighting on the floor.

After the scrap, the group then help each other off the floor and pat each other on the back as onlookers watch on.

Watch: Frustrated customers fight on Esso forecourt amid UK fuel crisis

Elderly man misses A&E appointment because of garage queues

17:54 , Sam Hancock

A 75-year-old man has told of how he missed his emergency appointment at Barnet General Hospital in London thanks to traffic queueing for the nearby Esso garage.

Raymond Cohen, 75, had felt faint this morning, prompting his wife, Jackie, to drive him to see a doctor.

Jackie told MailOnline the queues were “horrendous” and were not being controlled at all.

Mr Cohen was told to visit A&E by his doctor, but what should have been a 10-minute journey ended up taking over an hour.

He has now made it to the hospital and is having tests, according to reports.

Twitter continues to make light of BBC reporter Phill McCann’s name

17:16 , Sam Hancock

A BBC reporter went viral on Saturday while reporting on the national fuel crisis.

Phil McCann took to Twitter to make light of his interesting day, positing an image of him at a petrol station giving the thumbs up.

Later on in the day, a social media user pulled together a collage of some of the times a journalist or expert’s name has echoed the subject they’re reporting on or their job in general.

Here are the results...

Watch: Long queues at petrol stations across UK amid fuel crisis

17:01 , Sam Hancock

Watch: Long queues at petrol stations across UK amid fuel crisis

Fight breaks out at petrol station amid fuel crisis

16:44 , Sam Hancock

Tensions were running high at a petrol station in Portsmouth this morning as motorists headed en masse to stock up on fuel.

Two groups of men began “screaming” at each other before one group chased another trying to make a quick getaway in a van, according to reports.

The incident happened at around 8.30am in Hilsea.

“People were queuing throughout the night. Pumps are almost dry,” a witness told Sky News.

After the men began shouting at each other, he said: “One group got into their van and drove off out of the city as the other group gave chase and hurled stones at the retreating van. It’s utter madness.”

Government ‘letting people down’ over fuel crisis, says Starmer

16:28 , Sam Hancock

Keir Starmer accused the government of ‘letting people down so badly’ over the fuel crisis as he arrived at Labour Party conference.

The Labour leader told reporters: “I’ve just been up the road (and seen) three petrol stations, one of them with a massive queue and two of them with no fuel. So this is our opportunity to set out the alternative”.

Watch: Keir Starmer attacks government over energy crisis as Labour conference begins

Tory MP claims Brexit is reason HGV visa change can occur

16:26 , Sam Hancock

Dr Liam Fox, who was a staunch supporter of Brexit, has urged the government to move ahead with visa changes that would let thousands of EU lorry drivers work in the UK amid the HGV driver shortage.

The UK’s divorce from the EU has been partly blamed for the lack of lorry drivers, so Dr Fox’s claim that Brexit is what will allow the visa rule change is probably going to ruffle a few feathers.

Ambulance workers join queues for fuel amid panic buying

16:12 , Peter Stubley

Ambulance workers have reported struggling to find fuel for their vehicles because of panic buying at the pumps.

One emergency care assistant tweeted: “To everyone that panicked and went to fuel their cars when it wasn’t needed, well done on shift on an emergency ambulance, low on fuel and struggling to find somewhere that isn’t sold out.”

Another posted on Facebook that they had to go to five garages before refuelling.

Yesterday South Central Ambulance issued a tweet - since deleted - urging motorists not to rush to petrol stations to fill up.

“Every day our teams routinely use petrol stations to refuel vehicles so that we can continue to get to our patients, and, like many, continue to get to work,” the service said.

“Today they have joined the queues with others to refuel which on some occasions has taken time.

“Please could we encourage everyone to follow government advice and only refuel should you need to.”

Video: Customer confronts petrol station worker amid fuel crisis

15:54 , Peter Stubley

Video footage shows the nasty moment an argument flares up between a Londis petrol station worker and an angry customer amid the current fuel crisis in the UK.

The customer can be seen shouting at the member of staff before storming off to his car.

Watch: Customer antagonises Londis petrol station staff amid fuel crisis

‘A lot of people are going to go without fuel’, warns trade body

15:21 , Peter Stubley

The fuel crisis ‘is going to get worse before it gets better’, according to the chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association.

Brian Madderson told Sky News that “a lot of people are going to go without fuel” as a result of panic buying.

“This could be emergency services, it could be deliveries to supermarkets, it could be NHS workers, doctors, firemen, people who have really serious jobs that need 24-hour requirements for fuel,” he said.

“I think this situation is going to get worse before it gets better.”

He blamed the crisis on a government leak to the media about BP’s decision to restrict fuel deliveries to around 100 sites (out of a total of 1,200) due to HGV driver shortages and low stock levels.

“That leak to a broadcaster has brought about the quite catastrophic situation we’re now in where there is panic buying,” said Mr Madderson.

Tempers flare amid petrol panic buying

15:08 , Peter Stubley

Fights have broken out at petrol stations as motorists queue for fuel, according to unconfirmed reports on social media.

Witnesses told Portsmouth News that two groups of men clashed on a Shell forecourt in Hilsea, ending with one group chasing the other and throwing stones at their van.

A Twitter user also told how a fight broke out after fuel ran out at a garage, describing the scene as “Post Brexit Wild West”.

“There is no shortage,” says Asda

14:33 , Peter Stubley

Asda has also sought to reassure motorists by pointing to “increased demand” from customers as the main issue behind any supply problems.

“There is no shortage, but increased demand from customers rushing to fill up means that the main issue is keeping up with that and refuelling the tanks at stations,” a spokesperson for the supermarket told Sky News.

“None of our stations have closed other than temporarily to refuel.”

Morrisons and Sainsbury’s also said they were working to maintain supply.

An aerial view of the queue at an Asda petrol station in east London (AFP via Getty Images)
An aerial view of the queue at an Asda petrol station in east London (AFP via Getty Images)

14:08 , Peter Stubley

One of those queuing for petrol is ITV reporter Paul Brand, who says he has spent the whole morning looking for fuel because he only has six miles left in the tank.

“It’s getting pretty rowdy,” he says from the scene in Hanwell, west London. He adds: “We are not panic buying, just on empty trying to get to an appointment!”

Starmer hits out at government over fuel crisis

13:43 , Peter Stubley

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer referred to the petrol crisis as he arrived at the party conference in Brighton.

He told supporters that the Conservative government was “letting people down so badly” over shortages of food and fuel.

“I’ve just been up the road (and seen) three petrol stations, one of them with a massive queue and two of them with no fuel,” he added.

Essex Police call for ‘calm’ at petrol stations

13:25 , Peter Stubley

Essex Police says it received more than 100 calls over the last 24 hours from motorists stuck in traffic queuing for petrol.

The force added: “We know it’s frustrating but unless there’s a collision or a crime’s been committed, being stuck in traffic isn’t a reason to call us. We’d also urge people not abuse staff at petrol stations.”

Chief Superintendent Jenny Barnett said: “Thank you to the majority of you for buying fuel when you need it and being calm and considerate.”

Petrol crisis only a ‘temporary blip’, says AA president

13:15 , Peter Stubley

Drivers rushing to fill up with petrol when they don’t need to are putting ‘strain on system’, the president of the AA has warned.

Edmund King said the initial supply problems in some areas - caused by a shortage of HGV drivers - was being made worse by panic buying.

However he predicted that it was just a “temporary blip” and that the crisis should ease within a few days.

Panic-buyers exacerbating ‘temporary’ petrol supply crisis, says AA president

Some petrol stations prioritising fuel for essential workers, AA boss suggests

13:07 , Andy Gregory

Some petrol stations are prioritising key workers and delivery drivers, the president of the AA has said.

Edmund King told ITV News: “Some petrol stations are rationing the amount of fuel and only allowing £30 to be purchased and that means it does go further so that essential workers can get fuel.”

“We do know that some garages are giving priority to essential workers, some delivery vehicles, we’ve heard, have been given priority. So people are acting sensibly there,” he said.

Recalling that, “in the past, when we’ve had fuel blockades, priority was given to key workers”, he suggested: “We’re not really there yet, because supplies are getting through.”

13:03 , Andy Gregory

A company providing palliative care has warned that its staff are struggling to get to patients’ homes due to fuel pressure, according to ITV’s UK editor.

Visa scheme likely to be ‘short-term solution’, reports suggest

12:48 , Andy Gregory

With an announcement on a possible temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers expected over the weekend, Downing Street insiders have said it is to be a “short-term solution” to ease pressure on deliveries in the run-up to Christmas.

Up to 5,000 temporary visas could be granted for HGV drivers, The Financial Times and the Telegraph reported, while the former also said a similar number would be approved for food processing workers, especially in the poultry industry.

Read more details here:

Temporary visa scheme expected in plan to ease supply issues up to Christmas

Graph: How has the number of HGV drivers fallen in the UK?

12:39 , Andy Gregory

Our friends at Statista have created this graph from Office for National Statistics data, illustrating the increasing shortage of HGV drivers in recent years.

 (Statista/The Independent)
(Statista/The Independent)

TUC chief: Shelves are empty, care home staff are overworked, and still our government has no plan

12:27 , Andy Gregory

Writing for Independent Voices, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Frances O’Grady, argues:

“The staff shortages now biting across our economy have not come out of thin air. They are the result of wages and conditions being driven down in industries like food production and logistics for years.

“Too many HGV drivers, often outsourced or on agency contracts, are forced to sleep in their cabs on laybys – because their bosses won’t give them any payment for truck stops. Is it any wonder that some are refusing to return to the industry?

“If we want to build a more resilient labour market we must end this race to the bottom. That means giving trade unions greater access to workplaces to level up pay and employment standards. This is essential, not only for workers in food production and road haulage, but in vital sectors like social care too.”

Read more of her thinking here:

Opinion: Shelves are empty, care home staff are overworked, and our PM has no plan

12:07 , Peter Stubley

Police in Devon and Cornwall have also joined efforts to persuade drivers not to panic buy petrol.

The force said there was “no fuel shortage in either county” but warned that queues were causing congestion on some roads.

Police urge motorists to be ‘sensible’ about joining petrol queues

11:31 , Peter Stubley

Lincolnshire Police has urged drivers to be “sensible” about joining petrol station queues in the region.

In a statement, the force said: “We have received reports this morning of long queues at some petrol stations in the county.

“This is a potential hazard for vehicles making other journeys, and may cause difficulties for emergency services trying to reach people in need.

“While we appreciate that some people may be particularly keen to fill up their vehicles this weekend, we would respectfully ask motorists to be sensible when making judgements about joining a queue at a petrol station.

“If it is too long, consider returning at a different time.”

The legend of Phil McCann

11:21 , Peter Stubley

If you missed it earlier, here’s the reason why Phil McCann is trending on Twitter today.

The BBC reporter was sent to cover the fuel shortages at a petrol station in Stockport, but viewers were more interested in making jokes about his name.

Mr McCann took them in good humour, tweeting: “It’s like being back in Year 9!”

Watch: BBC sends journalist called Phil McCann to report on petrol crisis

Van runs out of fuel in queue for petrol station

11:13 , Peter Stubley

One van had to be pushed towards a garage forecourt after running out of fuel in the queue in Brixton, south London.

LBC reported that the driver had travelled from Gatwick to look for petrol.

Police issue plea over petrol station queues

10:58 , Peter Stubley

Two police forces have urged the public not to contact them about queues at petrol stations.

Bedfordshire Police said traffic jams only needed to be reported if they “risk causing harm to pedestrians or other road users”.

Surrey Police tweeted: “Police are aware of the current impact of busy petrol stations and its effect on many road users. In the absence of any criminal offences or any large scale disorder it is not proportionate for police to attend and manage the queues. Please only contact us if this applies.”

10:40 , Peter Stubley

And here’s the scene at a Tesco petrol station in Bracknell, Berkshire, where some pumps are closed as motorists queue up for fuel.

Motorists queue for fuel at a Tesco petrol station in Bracknell (PA)
Motorists queue for fuel at a Tesco petrol station in Bracknell (PA)
A man carrying containers at a Tesco Petrol Station in Bracknell, Berkshire. (PA)
A man carrying containers at a Tesco Petrol Station in Bracknell, Berkshire. (PA)

Motorists decry ‘stupidity’ as panic-buying continues

10:32 , Peter Stubley

Panic buying is still affecting petrol stations this morning, despite pleas from ministers and industry bosses.

Motorists were filmed queueing up for fuel at an Esso garage in Brockley, south London, and a Shell garage off the A4 in west London.

One taxi driver told Sky News: “It’s stupidity that we are all queueing up, but this is my job and I have to have diesel. I’m in here for work.”

A queue for petrol in Brockley, south London (PA)
A queue for petrol in Brockley, south London (PA)
A closed petrol station in Ashford, Kent (PA)
A closed petrol station in Ashford, Kent (PA)

There were also claims that some drivers were causing delays by filling up several jerry cans with petrol as well as their cars.

Visa U-turn 'unlikely to solve HGV driver shortage’

09:56 , Peter Stubley

The boss of a haulage company has warned that the temporary visa scheme is unlikely solve the shortage of HGV drivers.

Toby Ovens, managing director of Broughton Transport Solutions, said he believed the problem was more down to low wages rather than Brexit.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether such a scheme could help alleviate the shortage, Mr Ovens said: “I personally don’t think so.

“No, I think a lot of what we’re seeing at the minute is down to essentially the driver wages.

“Margins in haulage are very tight and the reality is the money isn’t there to pay the increased wages without substantial price increases to customers.”

Asked whether his company could pay more to lure people into the industry, he replied: “Yes, my drivers have had a pay rise once already this year and we’re looking at it again. That’s obviously going to involve another price increase for customers but, unfortunately, that is necessary at the present time.”

Yesterday the EU’s leading haulage association said that European lorry drivers were likely to ignore the UK’s offer of temporary visas in favour of “higher pay and better working conditions” on the continent.

“I expect many drivers will not return to the UK even if the UK Government allows them to,” said Marco Digioia, the general secretary of UETR. “While offering visas to drivers on the continent would be a welcome step, there are many other issues, such as working conditions, pay, and the costs of getting into and working in the UK.”

CBI urges government to ease ‘Brexit hangover'

09:40 , Peter Stubley

The head of the CBI described the shortages of HGV drivers and other workers as “a little bit of a Brexit hangover”.

Tony Danker told BBC Breakfast: “We had several drivers go home that we wouldn’t have wanted to go home and I think there is this bigger question of the immigration system, and it’s a complicated one.”

He said: “Essentially the government said ‘look, post-Brexit, let’s have an immigration system that only lets in the skills we need, not the skills we don’t’.

“Well, I think what we’re realising is there are some skills we need in the short run, we need to bring them in (but) not forever.”

He added: “You can’t turn round when there are shortages, fold your arms as some Government ministers have done and say ‘well, just put up wages and it will sort it’.

“It won’t sort it, you can’t turn baggage handlers into butchers overnight or shopkeepers into chefs, you can do it over three to five years maybe, but you can’t do it overnight.”

BBC fuel crisis reporter Phil McCann trends on Twitter

09:25 , Peter Stubley

Update: BBC reporter Phil McCann, who has been reporting on panic-buying in Stockport, is now trending on Twitter because people can’t resist joking about his name.

Visa changes for foreign workers ‘a huge relief’, says CBI

09:21 , Peter Stubley

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents 190,000 businesses in the UK, has criticised the government’s delay in relaxing visa rules for foreign workers.

Director-general Tony Danker welcomed the move - which was discussed by ministers on Friday - and told BBC Breakfast: “Hopefully it is going to happen and it is a huge relief.

“We’ve been calling for it for three months we could see this problem coming and more problems coming, and so it’s a shame the government needed queues at the pumps to move, but move I hope they have and it will help.”

However Mr Danker said that the UK was also facing labour shortages in several other occupations as well as supply chain and energy problems. The CBI has warned that the UK’s labour crisis could last for up to two years.

“It’s taken a bit of a crisis to force their hand, but I really hope the government follows through on what we’re hearing because that would provide some relief and get us started again,” he said.

Petrol supply crisis ‘a temporary blip’, says AA president

09:01 , Peter Stubley

The shortage of petrol at forecourts across the UK is only a ‘temporary blip,’ said the president of the AA.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Edmund King said: “The good news is you can only really fill up once - you’ve got to use the fuel, so this should be a short-term thing.

“It’s not like the fuel crises in the past when the supplier was hit by strikes, etc.

“So, once people have filled up, they won’t travel more than they normally travel, so this strain on the system should ease up in the next few days.”

He urged drivers to “stick to normal filling patterns” and added: “This will be temporary blip as new supplies are delivered every 24 to 48 hours.”

Phil McCann reports on petrol panic-buying crisis

08:47 , Peter Stubley

Meanwhile the BBC appears to have found the perfect reporter to cover the petrol supply crisis this morning.

Phil McCann (yes, really) has been covering shortages in Stockport, where one station sold three times the normal amount yesterday and is now out of fuel.

EG Group rations fuel at £30 per customer amid panic-buying

08:42 , Peter Stubley

If you missed it last night, EG Group announced that it was setting a £30 per customer limit for fuel at its forecourts due to supply problems and increased demand due to panic-buying by drivers.

An EG Group spokesperson said: “Due to the current unprecedented customer demand for fuel and associated supply challenges we have taken the decision to introduce a limit of £30 per customer on all of our grades of fuel.

“This excludes HGV drivers and emergency services due to their vital role at this time.

“This is a company decision to ensure all our customers have a fair chance to refuel and to enable our sites to carry on running smoothly.

“We kindly ask everyone visiting our sites to treat our colleagues, supply chain partners and customers with respect during these very challenging times. All of EG Group’s UK sites remain open and operational to serve customers.”

EG Group has around 400 petrol stations across the UK.

Boris Johnson ‘owes apology’ over supply crisis, says Davey

08:35 , Peter Stubley

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey described the government’s plans for visa changes for HGV drivers as a “screeching U-turn”.

He said: “This screeching U-turn is too late for those whose lives have been thrown into chaos.

“The Tories have shown they can’t be trusted to run this country.

“The arrogance of Boris Johnson has cost jobs. He knew there was a fix to this problem but ploughed on regardless.

“He owes the British people an apology.”

‘There is no fuel shortage'

08:30 , Peter Stubley

Ministers have repeatedly attempted to dissuade the public from panic-buying, insisting that there were no shortages of petrol.

A Downing Street spokesman said last night: “We have ample fuel stocks in this country and the public should be reassured there are no shortages.

“But like countries around the world we are suffering from a temporary Covid-related shortage of drivers needed to move supplies around the country.

“We’re looking at temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems, but any measures we introduce will be very strictly time-limited.

“We are moving to a high-wage, high-skilled economy and businesses will need to adapt with more investment in recruitment and training to provide long-term resilience.

Government U-turn on HGV driver visas ‘too late to avoid Christmas disruption'

08:23 , Peter Stubley

Scenes of panic-buying at petrol forecourts across the UK - on top of existing supply issues relating to the shortage of lorry drivers - have prompted the government to consider plans to ease visa requirements.

The move will reportedly allow up to 5,000 foreign lorry drivers into Britain on a short-term basis.

It came as the retail industry warned that ministers had just “10 days to save Christmas”.

However government insiders have told the Independent that the post-Brexit U-turn on visas has come too late to avoid disrupting Christmas.

Visa plan is too late to stop Christmas supply chaos, insiders warn

08:10 , Peter Stubley

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the supply chain crisis which has seen some petrol stations across the country forced to close and fuel rationing at hundreds of forecourts.

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