Long petrol queues and empty fuel tanks are the norm for many people in East Lancashire right now, as people stockpile petrol and diesel.

However, some people are urging the stockpilers to stop and think about how this can impact local businesses.

Clive Barnes, owner of Accrington Aerials and Security, said he lost more than £6000 in lost work and cancellations this week as a result of fuel shortages.

Several of his workers have run out of fuel while completing jobs and four engineers were left unable to work on Monday (27 September).

Others have been stuck in petrol station queues for as long as an hour and a half.

Clive, from Accrington, said: “We knew there were problems on Friday – but we didn’t actually think it would get this bad.

“I asked the lads to fuel up on Saturday and some did but others didn’t.”

Clive received a phone call on Monday morning from worker saying he was out almost of fuel and was unable to get hold of any despite visiting four other petrol stations.

This became a familiar story for the business, with three more engineers running on empty throughout the week.

As a result, he had to temporarily shut his Clitheroe showroom and cancel any appointments with people who were coming in.

He also had to postpone work on a Bingley care home which is set to open on Friday (31 September).

He said: “It’s just a knock on effect – whatever we lost or cancelled on Monday we are going to have to squeeze in later in the week.”

“If we don’t get any [by Wednesday] we will be putting jobs off once again and I’ll be putting more lads off work.

“They will probably have enough fuel to do local work – but they won’t have enough to do jobs further afield.”

Clive added that in his latest trip to refuel, he spotted a fire engine queuing in the lengthy line waiting for fuel.

He said: “To me that was ridiculous – emergency services shouldn’t have to sit in these queues.

“Just please – only take what you need.”

Clive isn't the only local business owner who has been impacted by the stockpilers.

Sophie Jane England posted to a Facebook community group and said queues of people panic-buying fuel are beginning to impact businesses at Great Harwood’s New Plough Yard.

Lancashire Telegraph: New Plough Yard's entrance has been busy since the stockpiling began (Photo: Google Maps)New Plough Yard's entrance has been busy since the stockpiling began (Photo: Google Maps)

The post stated that people are queuing outside the nearby Morrisons and arguments have broken out from people who accuse the business owners of “queue jumping.”

In the Facebook post she wrote: “This is a long-standing issue, made significantly worse by those queuing to panic buy.

“It causes problems for those of us who run businesses from there, our customers and our suppliers.

“We should not have to join your crazed queue when we are trying to go to work, nor should we have to deal with ignorance and arguments when we attempt to go round you. WE ARE NOT TRYING TO QUEUE JUMP!

“Please think before you block entrances and exits to side streets, not only is this a problem for us but it could also create further issues should emergency services require access.”

Dan England co-owns ABC Upholstery in the New Plough Yard. While he hasn’t personally encountered any major refuelling issues for his businesses, he said the queues outside the yard’s entrance are “shocking” and said “It’s been a nightmare” just trying to get to work.

Dan said it usually takes about 90 seconds to escape the traffic and get into the New Plough Yard – but since panic buyers started queuing for fuel this week it can take as long as 20 minutes to enter.

He added: “I won’t lie to you – it will probably be quicker to walk or cycle in than get to work right now.”

Dan is in charge of deliveries and makes them himself. He said he has been lucky and has enough fuel after managing to fill up at the weekend

He said: “Luckily, I managed to fill up on Saturday so I have been fine.

“However, while it’s all well and good for local deliveries – but I also go to North Wales, Lake District and other places across the UK.

“If I went delivering across the UK today and needed to fill up I dare say I would struggle.

“Suppliers have told me not to expect items on their usual time frame as they might not be able to get to us.”

He encourages people to consider small businesses and those who can’t work from home to earn money.

He said: “Panic-buyers filling cans up ‘just in case’ might lead to more issues for my business down the line.”

Scott Bell owns The Black Bull on Broken Stone Road in Blackburn.

He has some genuine concerns for his business and worries that he might run out of fuel.

Lancashire Telegraph: The Black Bull in Blackburn (Facebook/@blackbull3bs)The Black Bull in Blackburn (Facebook/@blackbull3bs)

He explained: “On the back of the pub we have a brewery. We have some deliveries this week and I just hope we can find some diesel to fill the van up with to do the deliveries.

“We will be a bit stuck if we can’t find the fuel.”

He added that the team have been “busy the past few weeks” brewing as much as three times a week to keep up with beer demand.

He added: “Hopefully we can find somewhere to fill it up.”

Thankfully, Boris Johnson said there is an end in sight for the fuel stockpiling issue.

The Prime Minister said the situation on the filling station forecourts is “stabilising” as he urged motorists to go about their business in the normal way.

A decision to put 150 military drivers on standby has been formally approved, meaning they can begin training in case they are required.


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