The City

Portrait of Britain besieged
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The Independent Online

The queues were stretching back to uncomfortable lengths, and after all that effort, £5 each was all motorists were allowed.

The queues were stretching back to uncomfortable lengths, and after all that effort, £5 each was all motorists were allowed.

Leeds was grinding to a halt last night. More than 100 garages in and around the city had run out of fuel and those that still had supplies were becoming swarmed with panic-buyers. A measly £5 allowance was enough for about seven litres each.

On the busy Kirkstall Road, one Esso garage reckoned it had seen a 15 per cent rise in sales in recent days - and that was before the problems really set in. "We hope we have enough petrol to cope with demand but if the picketing continues things will get very depleted," said a sales assistant. "We could have some serious problems."

Elsewhere across the city, farmers and hauliers were creating havoc with go-slow convoys. One set drove from Whooley Edge services on the M1 on the outskirts of Leeds to the busy Stourton junction near the city centre. Another group travelled along the M62 to join the M1 and bring even more chaos at rush hour.

Among the protesters there was no regret. "We are a mix of farmers and hauliers who will not tolerate the rise in fuel prices," said hauliers' spokesman, Martin Falkingham. "Prices for diesel have more than trebled in the last year and hit the farming community hard. We are losing money by filling up and want the Government to do something."

There was no doubt their efforts, and those of their colleagues who blockaded a refinery in the Cross Green area of the city, were effective.

At Green Flag Breakdown in Leeds, employees feared that they would soon be unable to carry out their service - one of many businesses facing real difficulties. But Leeds motorists were quick to blame the Government and sympathise with the hauliers carrying out the blockade (pictured left, on the M62). Taxi-driver Mohammed Javed, 30, said: "The price of fuel is astronomical. I support these protests as they should act as a sharp reminder to the Government that something needs to be done. Motorists are being ripped off."

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