Petrol stockpiling advice 'wrong'
A Government minister has been urged to withdraw advice to people to fill up jerry cans with petrol to prepare for a fuel tanker strike because of the threat of fire.
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude issued the advice as the Government drew up contingency plans to deal with the threat of industrial action by drivers.
The Fire Brigades Union said advising motorists to store jerry cans of petrol in their garages was wrong and must be withdrawn. The union warned it would "massively increase" fire and explosion risk and the public should be discouraged from doing so.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: "This is not sensible advice and people should be discouraged from doing so. The general public does not properly understand the fire and explosion risk of storing fuel, even if it was done sensibly.
"Those without garages may be tempted to store fuel in the home. In the event of a fire in the house or a neighbouring property, it would be disastrous. It is already against the law to store more than 10 litres of petrol in two five-litre plastic containers in the home. As that amounts to little more than a third of a tank in most cars, the advice is of little practical help.
"There is a real danger the public will start storing fuel in inappropriate ways if the Government is encouraging panic buying and storage. This advice is wrong and must be withdrawn."
Mr Maude said a "couple of hundred" military tanker crews would be trained to cover for striking tanker drivers to maintain supplies to garages, as well as hospitals and schools. He also attacked the Unite union and its leader Len McCluskey for threatening industrial action, accusing the union of being "irresponsible".
Workers in five of seven companies involved in the row over terms and conditions and safety standards have voted in favour of strikes, raising the threat of walkouts over the Easter weekend, when millions of families will take to the road for the first major holiday of the year. Unite will have to give seven days' notice of any walkouts, but the talks are likely be held soon at the conciliation service Acas in an attempt to avert stoppages.
Labour leader Ed Miliband, speaking during a visit to the Midlands, was asked if he could step in and do something to influence Unite. He replied that his message was clear - that the strike must be avoided and the way to do that was to get round the negotiating table.
David Cameron said the Government was delivering a "very calm, very sensible" message but there was "absolutely no justification" for a strike". He added: "To the British people themselves I would say, look, there is no imminent strike. The unions would have to give seven days notice of any strike so there is no need to queue to buy petrol. If there is an opportunity to top up your tank if a strike is potentially on the way, then it is a sensible thing if you are able to do that."