PANIC-STRICKEN motorists in Galloway flocked to the pumps last weekend following mixed messages from the government over possible fuel strikes.
Although no strike had been arranged, and a seven-day notice period must be given before any action, drivers were spurred on to fill up their tanks after advice from the government to “top-up” wherever possible.
Queues at most filling stations in Galloway meant many providers were quick to run out of fuel - despite having been given deliveries on time.
But most were just as quick to recover as the threat of strikes subsided.
But politicians have blasted the government’s advice, accusing them of scaremongering.
MP Russell Brown said: “The Tory-led Government has presided over an utter shambles on petrol. Their scaremongering and reckless talk of filling up jerry cans has caused panic and is downright dangerous.
“Government incompetence means we have ended up with petrol stations running out of fuel and local people struggling to fill up their cars. They have been whipping up a frenzy to try and distract from the outcry that followed the announcement of tax cuts for millionaires in their budget.
“Once again the Tories are out of touch with ordinary people. While they stir up fears about a petrol shortage to play political games, people across Dumfries and Galloway are concerned about having enough fuel to get to work and the shops. The Government should apologise for the inconvenience and worry they have caused local people.”
And SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod used a Members’ Business debate in the Scottish Parliament to highlight the severe pressure being placed on Dumfries and Galloway’s public transport by record fuel prices.
During the debate, Dr McLeod also praised the work being done by Dumfries and Galloway Council and Wigtownshire Community Transport to provide an integrated model of community transport which can fill in some of the gaps in public transport provision.
Dr McLeod said: “As someone who relies on public transport to get round a large rural region, I am very aware of the importance of public transport and its role in sustaining communities, allowing people access to essential services and contributing towards health and wellbeing.
“However, record fuel prices, along with substantial increases in other costs such as insurance are creating severe pressure for private car owners and public transport operators alike.
“It is to SWestrans’ credit that the re-tendered services have not seen the huge cuts which were initially predicted, though the underlying budget pressures have not gone away and are, if anything, continuing to rise.
“Dumfries & Galloway Council is also developing an integrated approach to providing transport, working in partnership with community transport to deliver services and making better use of the Council’s school bus fleet.”