Strike fears lead to petrol queues

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PANIC buying fuel gripped the Rye area last week.

The situation in Rye was made worse by the recent closure of the Winchelsea Road filling station, which led to long queues at Jempsons at Peasmarsh.

Stephen Jempson said: “It was incredibly busy all week but Thursday was the busiest with the queue stretching all the way back to the main road.”

Jempsons dealt with the rush by taping off a lane to keep cars in line.

There were still queues on Friday but the mood of motorists waiting their turn was good natured.

At one stage Beckley Motors was rationing petrol to a £20 spend.

Mr Jempson said: “Panic buying really took hold but we did not run out of fuel.

“Our service station is supplied by Jet and they are not even involved the dispute so even if tanker drivers went on strike it would not effect us. We would still have fuel.”

One queueing driver commented: “You can’t help wondering if this is nothing more than a cynical ploy by the Government to get more fuel duty rolling in.”

There were no queues reported at Skinners service station in Rye.

The threat of strike action by tanker drivers was still looming this week with the Unite union and fuel distributors set to meet on Wednesday in a bid to resolve the dispute. But a strike over the Easter weekend has been ruled out.

The talks come after the government was forced to defend its handling of the situation following fierce criticism.

The assistant general secretary of Unite, Diana Holland, said: “Everybody involved on behalf of Unite, the trade union members, and the oil tanker drivers, is saying we want a negotiated settlement. That won’t happen without all parties coming together.

She added: “This is not a new issue. We have been alerting the government all the way along.”