Petrol firms have today been accused of taking advantage of panicked motorists by rocketing prices of fuel and diesel.
Drivers have made a desperate dash to the pumps today after BP announced some of its petrol stations would be closed due to delivery issues sparked by the UK’s HGV crisis.
Government officials insist there is ‘no issue’ with fuel stocks and that it is purely a delivery issue.
But long queues have been seen outside petrol stations today, after motorists were warned not to let their fuel tank go ‘below a quarter’ by petrol retailers.
Now pictures have revealed how fuel prices have been pumped up by some garages.
Prices have averaged around 135p per litre this week. But a Texaco petrol station in West Kingsdown, Kent, was seen charging 145.9p today.
Meanwhile, one driver claimed he was sitting at a roundabout when he saw the price of petrol jump by 20p a litre.
The caller told LBC: ‘There is a petrol station which I sat by for thirty minutes trying to get round the roundabout and I watched the price change from 131p to 151p per litre.’
Prices have averaged around 135p per litre this week. But a Texaco petrol station in West Kingsdown, Kent, was seen charging 145.9p today
Others claimed on social media that they had noticed petrol prices going up, with one Twitter user saying: ‘Unleaded at petrol station near to my work has gone up 3p a litre overnight.’
Another said: ‘Just seen an ambulance sat in the queue at Tesco and it’s gone up to 132.9p.’
One claimed they had noticed a 20p a litre increase at their local garage.
Today AA chiefs said the move would pour more misery on families who were already facing inflated food and gas prices.
But the motoring group’s fuel prices spokesman, Luke Bosdet, said the price gouging technique was one sometimes used to ‘deter’ panic buy.
He told MailOnline: ‘We’ve seen forecourts use price increases in the past to try to deter those just going to fill up their tanks.
‘However for those that do genuinely need the fuel this price jump will leave people who have already faced increased prices for food feeling frustrated.’
Mr Bosdet said that, according to AA figures, average petrol prices had remained around 135p a litre since the beginning of September.
Average diesel prices meanwhile has gone up from 136p per litre to 137p, according to the AA figures.
Mr Bosdet said prices of petrol had been higher than they should been, considering a recent 4p drop in wholesale petrol prices and the change from E5 to E10 petrol in the UK – meaning more ethanol is now used in the mix.
MailOnline has contacted Texaco for a comment, but had not received a response prior to publication.
It comes as ministers have been accused of dooming Britain to a Winter of Incompetence as panic buying of fuel escalated today amid urgent talks on giving temporary visas to foreign HGV drivers.
The government has been lambasted for failing to see the problems coming as huge queues developed at petrol stations, with fears rationing might even be needed.
Despite desperate assurances from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that there is no shortage of fuel in the country and people should ‘carry on as normal’, queues of cars built up at garages across the country
In the face of the chaos, ministers seem to be on the verge of agreeing to shore up the numbers of HGV drivers by granting temporary visas to EU nationals – something that retailers and industry have been demanding for months but they previously resisted.
Environment Secretary George Eustice is thought to have been pushing for the move along with Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay.
Mr Shapps, who has previously been sceptical saying that businesses should pay Britons more to take the jobs rather than rely on cheap labour from abroad, struck a notably softer tone in interviews this morning.
Kwasi Kwarteng is also seemingly lowering objections to a time-limited change.
But critics question why it has taken so long to address the problems, as companies have been raising alarm for months about the brewing crisis.
The driver shortage has been exacerbated by a huge backlog in HGV tests due to Covid, as well as foreign drivers returning home amid the pandemic and Brexit.
There have also been huge pressures on global supply chains with economies getting up and running after the effective coronavirus shutdown – as well as factors like the Suez canal having been blocked months ago.
SIDCUP, KENT: Queues of cars spill out on the road from a Kent forecourt today after fuel bosses warned of rationing and petrol station closures
Drivers wait in line for fuel at a petrol station near the M4 in Coryton, Cardiff today as concerns grow
Vehicles bumper-to-bumper in Harpenden as they try to get into a BP garage today
Desperate motorists were cramming into forecourts in Tonbridge, Kent, in Ely, Cambridgeshire, Bright and Leeds this morning.
One petrol station in Essex, was already said to have run out of diesel by this morning, while outside another forecourt on the A12, also in Essex, queues were said to be ‘three rows deep to every pump’.
The scenes of queues outside petrol stations – which for some will stir up memories of the 1973 Opec Oil Crisis and the 2000 fuel shortage – come amid fears of a 1978-style ‘winter of discontent’ for the UK, with skyrocketing energy prices, food shortages and fuel rationing.
Yesterday BP announced plans to ration fuel and a ‘handful’ of its petrol stations, along with ‘small number’ of Tesco refilling stations, while supermarkets warned of food shortages and more energy firms went bust amid rising gas prices – sparking fears of a new ‘winter of discontent’.
And in a particularly unhelpful addition to the problem, eco-mob Insulate Britain returned to the roads today to block off a route to Port of Dover – Europe’s busiest port and the UK’s main gateway for trade from the EU.
Last night the Petrol Retailers Association added to the rising sense of carnage by urging motorists to ‘keep a quarter of a tank’ of fuel in their vehicles in preparation for potential closures of local petrol stations.