Britain remains in the grip of a fuel crisis, as garages are still running out of petrol faster than they can be resupplied.
Boris Johnson has suggested the situation was ‘stabilising’, but the Government has been accused of ‘gaslighting’ the country over the seriousness of the problem.
London, the South East, the North West, the West Midlands and the East Midlands all currently have fuel levels of below 20%, according to Whitehall’s own analysis.
These regions have been labelled ‘red’ under a new traffic light system set up to monitor the crisis.
However supplies are getting better in the North East, Yorkshire, and Wales, which have been moved from red to Amber.
Scotland is moving from amber to green and Northern Ireland is already there, according to the Times.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) has suggested an easing of the crisis in recent days appears to have stalled, with 27% of stations running dry yesterday – the same as the previous day.
Executive director Gordon Balmer said: ‘PRA members are reporting that whilst they are continuing to take further deliveries of fuel, this is running out quicker than usual due to unprecedented demand.’
The PRA said it had surveyed 1,200 garages across the UK yesterday, and found only 52% of sites reported having both petrol and diesel in stock. Meanwhile 21% had only one option available 27% were completely dry.
Drivers have been forced to venture out late at night and into the morning for fuel. Portsmouth-based Joe Wells tweeted: ‘Being told there is petrol when I’ve been to five petrol stations and they’ve had none is literally gaslighting.’
Londoner Kim Sunley added: ‘Absolute bulls*** to say fuel crisis is over if my bus journey in NE London is anything to go by. One station closed, two gridlocked with queues. Government gaslighting.’
Mr Balmer said: ‘PRA members are reporting that whilst they are continuing to take further deliveries of fuel, this is running out quicker than usual due to unprecedented demand.
‘We would urge drivers to maintain their buying habits and only fuel up as and when needed to ensure there is plenty of fuel to go around.
‘It is important to remember that fuel stocks remain normal at refineries and terminals, and deliveries have been reduced solely due to the shortage of HGV drivers.’
Treasury Chief Secretary Simon Clarke told Sky News: ‘We are in a situation now where more fuel is being delivered to petrol stations than is being sold so that crisis is now absolutely back under control.
‘That is something that will continue to ease if people just return to normal buying habits.’
AA president Edmund King said: ‘Most drivers have managed to find fuel, but might have had to travel to several filling stations or to queue.
‘A large proportion of drivers changed their refuelling habits over the last five days, and this should now allow forecourts to restock and find their feet again.’
Ministers have already begun deploying the Government’s reserve tanker fleet – driven by civilian drivers – to support the resupply of filing stations.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said military drivers – who have been on standby since Monday – should also start appearing on the roads in the coming days.
The Government has rejected calls from the retail and hospitality sectors to ease immigration rules in the run-up to Christmas to ensure services are maintained.
It has offered 10,500 temporary visas to foreign lorry drivers and agricultural workers – expiring on Christmas Eve.
But Polish lorry driver Tomasz Orynski said the Government can’t treat immigrants like ‘like taps you can turn on and off’.
He said if ministers want to attract foreign workers, they should offer better pay and conditions, such help with accommodation or long-term visas.
Many foreign drivers say they aren’t interested in dropping everything to come over for just three months, claiming facilities for truckers in continental Europe are much better.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more stories like this, check our news page.