Services urge residents to think twice before storing fuel

Shay Bottomley and Adrian Williams

Service providers in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead and Slough are warning residents to think twice before buying petrol when they do not need to.

Since Friday, petrol stations across East Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire have seen huge rises in demand, with long tailbacks in the few that have remained open.

On Monday evening, the Esso garage at Shoppenhangers Road in Maidenhead saw traffic brought to a standstill in both directions.

Similar problems also affected the flow of traffic at Castle Hill petrol station, with vehicles remaining stationary along the A308, Harrow Lane and Linden Avenue.

The Government has said that while the UK continues to have ‘strong supplies of fuel’, it has mobilised tanker drivers from the British Army to ‘ease pressures’ on petrol station forecourts as a ‘sensible, precautionary step’.

Yesterday (Monday), in a joint statement, leading firms in the fuel industry said it ‘expected demand to return to its normal levels in the coming days’.

It added: “There is plenty of fuel at UK refineries and terminals, and as an industry we are working closely with the government to help ensure fuel is available to be delivered to stations across the country.

“As many cars are now holding more fuel than usual, we expect that demand will return to its normal levels in the coming days, easing pressures on fuel station forecourts. We would encourage everyone to buy fuel as they usually would.

“We remain enormously grateful to all forecourt staff and HGV drivers for working tirelessly to maintain supplies during this time.”

Slough Borough Council confirmed that it was experiencing no issues in delivering services amid the surge in demand, whereas a spokesperson for the Royal Borough said: “Our day-to-day public services continue to operate as usual at current. We continue to monitor the situation closely and work with our contractors and operators to ensure vital public services continue to be delivered.” 

However, service providers in the region said that whilst fuel stocks remained ‘sufficient’, the gridlocks were causing a concern for many.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Buses, which runs the bus services in Maidenhead, said: “We are not impacted by fuel deliveries for our vehicles.

“However, standstill traffic queuing close to fuelling stations has caused significant impact to our journeys since Friday evening, as buses have no way of turning or avoiding the congestion.

“Some of our routes currently have delays of 90 minutes, with obvious substantial inconvenience to our customers.

“We have put additional resources into the network in some cases, but we are unable to deal with all the problems on such a scale.”

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service also confirmed that they maintained ‘sufficient’ fuel stocks but reminded residents over the dangers of storing fuel at home.

A spokesman added: “We work with our partners in the Local Resilience Forum to monitor the situation across the Thames Valley, as part of our normal resilience arrangements.

“Residents are advised that storing fuel in a home environment will bring an associated increase in risk of fires and dangerous conditions. Please consider this when storing fuel at home.”

A spokesman for South Central Ambulance Service said: “We have robust operational plans in place in the event of any disruption to fuel supply and have additional fuel provisions available to us should they be required at any point.

“We continue to monitor the situation and work closely with our partners so we can adapt and mitigate any risks should they arise.”

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