Measures in place to guard against shortage of fuel in Hampshire

PLANS Army drivers will have to go to Fawley oil refinery near Southampton
PLANS Army drivers will have to go to Fawley oil refinery near Southampton
The Strand in central London was cordoned-off after some 1,450 people were evacuated from a nightclub and a hotel following a gas leak. Picture: London Fire Brigade/PA Wire

NATIONAL: 1,450 people evacuated in central London following gas leak

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PLANS are being put in place to cope with a potential fuel shortage if threatened strike action by tanker drivers goes ahead.

Portsmouth City Council is preparing a contingency strategy so that crucial emergency services are not affected by proposed industrial action.

The news comes as some garages in Portsmouth reported they had almost run out of fuel because of worried motorists panic buying.

Fuel drivers in the Unite union voted to strike on Monday in a row over what spokesman called ‘unrelenting attacks’ on conditions and safety.

Army drivers are being trained to deliver fuel from places such as Fawley refinery, near Southampton, to petrol stations and help them cope with any walkout.

But city council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said it had dealt with similar disruptions before and measures were being put in place to keep the city moving.

He said: ‘We will have contingency plans in place; we dealt with the strikes last time and we will again.

‘There is a detailed plan to make sure that the emergency services get the fuel they need so they can continue to run.’

Ian Luckett, director of Fareham-based coach firm Lucketts Travel, said his business would be hit hard if the planned strike takes place.

‘Fuel is like the blood that flows through our veins,’ he said. ‘Without it we don’t exist. And it won’t take long for the roads to become empty if this goes ahead; you’re talking a matter of days rather than weeks. It will be quite dire.’

Petrol stations in Goldsmith Avenue, London Road, Copnor Road and Kettering Terrace reported queues at the pumps and fuel running low yesterday.

Owner of JG Riley Newsagents, in Locksway Road, Milton, Ray Camberwell, said: ‘I went to get petrol on Goldsmith Avenue but the pump was empty. And taxi drivers said they were having trouble getting fuel.’