Queues, panic-buying and closed pumps - Mansfield in fuel-crisis frontline
Bosses and staff at petrol stations across Mansfield are hoping the worst is over after a hectic week trying to cope with the fuel crisis.
Such has been the demand for petrol that most garage forecourts in town have had to close at some point.
“I have never known anything like this before!” gasped veteran Balwinder Sandhu, who has been manager of Mansfield Service Station, on Stockwell Gate, since 1984.
Balwinder, 63, reported long queues of cars waiting to fill up, and he finally ran out of both petrol and diesel at 3 pm on Saturday.
"I am now hoping, fingers crossed, for a delivery,” he said. “In a good, normal week, we would sell about 25,000 litres of fuel. But from 11.30 am last Friday to the following afternoon, we got through 40,000 litres.
"At one stage, I was so busy I only had time for a cup of tea!”
Panic-buying has helped to swell the queues across town, with drivers worried about running out of fuel.
But Balwinder reported: “Luckily, we have had no trouble. All the drivers have kept calm.”
Supervisor Catherine Young reported a similar story at the Rosemary Street Service Station, where a £30 spending limit has been imposed on drivers since Friday.
The station’s pumps were closed for 48 hours from Saturday morning, but Catherine said: “We had a delivery on Monday afternoon, and we are coping fine. Our staff have been incredible, seeing cars in and out and keeping things flowing.
"It can be stressful, but we are managing really well.”
At the Sainsbury’s Petrol Station on Nottingham Road, manager Lyndsay Kirk said they were also dealing well with the sizeable queues.
"One or two drivers have mouthed off, but we have had no trouble,” she said. “We have had to shut the pumps a few times, but the longest was only for six hours. We are getting regular deliveries.
"It is still quite busy but, hopefully, things will start to calm down.”
Resident Gary Rigby told the Chad that he was stuck in a queue for 55 minutes at Morrisons in Mansfield Woodhouse on Monday afternoon as the pumps were emptied almost as soon as they were re-stocked.
Queues stretching down the street were reported at the BP Service Station on Clipstone Road in Forest Town, where supervisor Sumidh Don said they had only 500 litres of fuel left – and that was being saved for the emergency services. He was praying for a fresh delivery.
The BP Service Station on Mansfield Road at Skegby ran out of fuel on Monday morning after days of long queues.
And Leo Willmott, manager of the Essar Eastfield Service Station in Sutton, said some drivers were trying to fill their vehicles with the wrong type of fuel. “But most of them are all right,” he added.
The surge in demand was triggered by fears that a desperate shortage of lorry-drivers across the country would hit fuel supply.
The government is offering temporary visas to woo back foreign drivers, and has suspended competition-law restrictions on oil companies. The Army might also be deployed to ease the crisis.
But the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, which covers Mansfield, warned that without further action, the country “faced the real prospect of serious damage to our economy”.