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Call for talks on tanker 'crisis'

The chairman of the body which represents thousands of independent petrol stations has called for urgent discussions with ministers over Britain's transport fuel "crisis".

In a letter to Energy Secretary Ed Davey, Brian Madderson of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) predicted that fuel shortages caused by last week's panic buying could continue until at least the Easter weekend and possibly beyond as petrol stations struggle to restock.

He also said the confidence of independent fuel retailers had been "abruptly shaken" by the Government's "perceived inability" to manage the issue of a potential strike by tanker drivers.

Mr Madderson's comments came as new research revealed that three in four people (77%) believe the Government was responsible for causing unnecessary panic over the ongoing dispute.

Research commissioned by ITV News at Ten also found that 72% think David Cameron was wrong to advise people to top up their fuel, while just 12% of the 2,000 adults interviewed by ComRes agreed that the Government has handled the strike threat in a responsible way.

Fuel tanker drivers and their employers are due to hold substantive talks on Wednesday in an attempt to resolve the dispute which has flared over safety and working conditions.

Conciliation service Acas, which will chair the meeting, said it had held briefings with the Unite union and the seven distribution firms involved in the row over the past few days.

In his letter to the Government, Mr Madderson wrote: "Independent petrol retailers across the UK have had their confidence abruptly shaken by the Government's perceived inability to manage the issue of a potential industrial dispute by Unite affiliated tanker drivers.

"It is now very clear to the public and to the media that Government created a crisis out of a concern, with some ill-conceived recommendations and complete lack of engagement with industry to prepare for possible strike action."

He also stated that the UK's energy resilience for fuel required "a complete overhaul" with regard to retail forecourts.


From Belfast Telegraph