Petrol station forecourts closed and long queues in north London

The Shell garage in Holloway Road

The Shell garage in Holloway Road - Credit: Polly Hancock

Some petrol station forecourts were closed on Saturday, with long queues at garages still with working unleaded pumps.

Motorists are being urged not to fill up unnecessarily, with panic-buying blamed by the head of the AA for local shortages

In Upper Street, Islington, a queue stretched back from the Shell garage past the town hall before businesses had opened. 

At the large Esso at the top of Archway Road, cones were out to stop vehicles entering, with all pumps closed. A sign at the Shell in Holloway Road said: "Sorry, fuel is temporarily unavailable."

Further up North Hill, Highgate, there was a queue for one working unleaded pump.

The queue for the Upper Street Shell garage, stretching past Islington Town Hall

The queue for the Upper Street Shell garage, stretching past Islington Town Hall - Credit: André Langlois


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Edmund King, president of the AA, told BBC Breakfast on Saturday that panic-buying rather than supply chain issues is driving the shortage of fuel at some stations.

He said the problem should pass in a matter of days if drivers stick to filling up when they need it, adding “there is plenty of fuel at source”.

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Mr King said the shortage had been driven by “people going out and filling up when they really don’t need to”.

“If you think about it, 30 million cars out there, if they’ve all got half a tank [and] if they all rush out to fill up the rest of the tank and the tank is about 60 litres, that will put a strain on the system,” he said.

Motorists in Upper Street waiting to buy petrol from the Shell garage

Motorists in Upper Street waiting to buy petrol from the Shell garage - Credit: Polly Hancock

On Friday transport secretary Grant Shapps tried to dissuade drivers from panic buying petrol, telling motorists that they should "carry on as normal".

The government is expected to announce that visa rules for foreign lorry drivers will be relaxed to help deal with a shortage of HGV drivers - around 100,000 - exacerbated by Brexit and the pandemic.  

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West tweeted a video of a queues of traffic on Saturday, saying: "This government is a disaster. Queues miles long and horns honking. Welcome to Toryland…"

Esso garage at the top of Archway Road and North Hill, Highgate

The closed forecourt of the Esso garage at the top of Archway Road and North Hill, Highgate - Credit: André Langlois

A queue for a single working unleaded pump at the Highgate Gulf

A queue for a single working unleaded pump at the Gulf in Highgate - Credit: André Langlois

The queue for the Upper Street Shell garage

The queue for the Upper Street Shell garage - Credit: André Langlois


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