PETROL panic continued to grip South Tyneside today, as desperate drivers brought gridlock to borough garages.
As temperatures continued to rise, so too did motorists’ frustrations as they tried to fill up on fuel ahead of potential strike action by tanker drivers.
Huge queues formed outside petrol stations, with some running out of fuel and being forced to closed, and others having to bring in police to control the chaos.
The panic has been blamed on the threat of a national strike by tanker drivers and advice from minister Francis Maude to stock up on fuel.
Morrisons in Jarrow saw queues forming from the roundabout in Albert Road, as people fought their way to the pumps.
Dozens of cars snaked into the garage, causing traffic mayhem as shoppers tried to get in and out of the car park.
People waiting for one of the five buses which runs into Morrisons car park said that theirs had not turned up.
One passenger said: “The buses can’t get in because of the queue for the garage. I’ve heard they’re just stopping on the main street now.”
Martin Harris, commercial director of Go North East, which operates four of the services, said: “People are queuing at petrol stations out into the main roads, and we want them to realise how difficult that can make things for other vehicles, and how much it slows traffic down. This is slowing buses down and, in some cases, making it impossible for them to run their full routes. We apologise to any passengers who have been inconvenienced.”
The Esso garage in York Avenue, Jarrow, was closed during yesterday’s panic, due to maintenance work, but was very busy this morning.
Meanwhile, the Jet garage in Victoria Road West, Hebburn, was also clogged with motorists filling up on fuel.
Sales assistant Melanie Rigg said: “We’ve been a lot busier than usual, but we’re doing fine.
“We’ve got other tankers coming in, so we don’t expect to run out.”
At Morrisons in Seaburn, Sunderland, police were called to monitor hundreds of motorists who queued for fuel.
Officers, who described the scene as “panic”, stood in the entry road directing drivers to the pumps, which were jammed most of the day.
Staff were also needed to help drivers into the right lanes and made a one-way system to separate those wanting to shop from those after fuel.
One said: “It’s been extremely busy for at least three hours and it was like this yesterday too.
“There’s been no let up and I think this will go on until people stop worrying about the strike.”
At Asda in Boldon Colliery this morning cars were queueing out of the store car park and onto Abingdon Way as they waited for petrol, after shocked drivers were turned away from the pumps yesterday.
The store’s self-service station was cordoned off from lunchtime, with a sign informing customers that it was dry of petrol and diesel.
Petrol station owners say the panic has got out of hand.
John Peart, 70, owner of Stadium Garage in Newcastle Road, East Boldon, said: “I had one middle-aged woman come in and fill up with just £2.50 – she had a next-to-full tank and that was all she had room for.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I just couldn’t think of anything to say to her and just looked and thought ‘how stupid’.
“I don’t think we will run out of fuel, but you really have to blame the Government and Francis Maude’s idiotic words for this.
“Advising people to fill up jerry cans was so stupid – it’s dangerous and illegal.”
And this morning at the Shell garage at Whitemare Pool, on the A194, drivers were being turned away as the station waited for fresh supplies.
Meanwhile, motorists were also being turned away at the Total garage in Harton Lane, South Shields, after supplies ran out.