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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Fuel supply still a big problem in SE England – retailers


Fuel supply is still a “big problem” in south-east England, the Petrol Retailers Association says – and “if anything it had got worse”.

However, the PRA stated that Scotland, the north of England, and parts of the Midlands had seen a “significant improvement.”

Beginning Monday, the military will begin delivering gasoline throughout the United Kingdom.

Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, stated that the situation is “stabilising,” and that measures such as military deployment will help.

The United Kingdom has been dealing with a fuel crisis, which has resulted in long lines outside some gas stations and forced customers to drive to multiple locations in search of supplies.

While the government and retailers claim that there is enough fuel at UK refineries, a driver shortage has slowed fuel delivery to some petrol forecourts, and demand has been high.

Almost 200 service members, including 100 drivers, will provide “temporary” assistance to relieve station pressure.

According to Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents nearly 5,500 of the UK’s 8,300 petrol stations, Scotland, the north of England, and parts of the Midlands have fewer dry sites.

However, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the situation in London and the south-east of England had deteriorated.

He stated that the military drivers will be of “great assistance,” but that “prioritisation of deliveries to filling stations, particularly independent ones, which are neighbourhood sites” is required “immediately.”

Mr Madderson also warned that fuel prices would rise next week due to “global factors,” rather than profiteering.

Almost 200 servicemen and women will provide support to ease pressure on stations

Mr Javid stated that there is “enough fuel in the country, and there always has been,” but that the number of drivers has been a challenge.

“I think the measures that have been put in place over the last few weeks have certainly helped; it appears that the situation is stabilising, but it is not completely over,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“The most reassuring message is that there is enough fuel in this country for everyone; if everyone just goes back to normal, in terms of simply filling up for what they actually need, that will certainly help the situation.”

Military personnel are currently undergoing training at haulier sites and will be on the road delivering fuel supplies across the country beginning Monday to “help fuel stocks further improve,” according to the government.

Following training this week, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace stated that personnel would be seen working alongside drivers this weekend.

Ministers have also announced that up to 300 foreign fuel tanker drivers will be able to work in the UK from now until the end of March.

In addition, temporary visas are being offered to 4,700 food haulage drivers who can arrive in late October and leave on February 28, 2022.

Visas are being issued to an additional 5,500 poultry workers who can arrive in late October and stay until December 31.

The government previously stated that these temporary visas would be valid until Christmas Eve.

‘Failures of the past’

On Friday Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to recall Parliament from party conference recess, saying “emergency action” was needed to speed up the visas.

Mr Johnson, on the other hand, accused the haulage industry of being overly reliant on low-wage migrant workers.

He went on to say that he would not let the UK repeat its “failures” of the past by allowing mass immigration to create a “low-wage, low-skill economy” for British workers.

According to the haulage industry, the driver shortage already existed but was exacerbated by factors such as the pandemic, Brexit, an ageing workforce, low wages, and poor working conditions.

A survey from earlier this year suggests a number of reasons for the driver shortage

In addition to temporary visas, the government announced a slew of other measures last week aimed at minimising disruption in the run-up to Christmas and beyond.

These include increasing HGV (heavy goods vehicle) testing capacity, sending nearly one million letters to HGV drivers, encouraging them to return to the industry, and providing HGV driver training courses.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned there is global disruption to supply chains in other industries, which could continue until Christmas.

“These shortages are very real,” Mr Sunak told the Daily Mail. “We’re seeing real disruptions in supply chains in different sectors, not just here but around the world. We are determined to do what we can to try to mitigate as much of this as we can.”

And the Financial Times reports that turkeys will be imported to the UK from France and Poland in the run-up to Christmas after farmers reared about one million fewer birds.

British Poultry Council chief executive Richard Griffiths told the paper that Brexit had cut off the industry’s supply of cheap labour.

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