Advice row

Fuel strike: David Cameron tells drivers not to panic, but they are advised to top up cars and petrol cans

 

Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested motorists take the “sensible precaution” of topping up on petrol ahead of a potential strike by fuel tanker drivers.

Cameron’s comments come just hours after Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister, said any potential strike would put lives at risk.

Maude advised drivers to fill up any spare jerry cans with petrol, even though motoring organisations and energy firms have urged people not to panic buy.

He accused the Unite union of behaving irresponsibly, adding that a "couple of hundred" military crews would be trained to cover for striking tanker drivers in a bid to maintain supplies to hospitals and schools, as well as garages.

However, the Fire Brigades Union urged Maude to withdraw his advice to stockpile fuel, warning it would "massively increase" the risk of fire and explosions.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: "This is not sensible advice…Those without garages may be tempted to store fuel in the home. In the event of a fire in the house or a neighbouring property, it would be disastrous.

"It is already against the law to store more than 10 litres of petrol in two five-litre plastic containers in the home. As that amounts to little more than a third of a tank in most cars, the advice is of little practical help.

"There is a real danger the public will start storing fuel in inappropriate ways if the Government is encouraging panic-buying and storage. This advice is wrong and must be withdrawn."

Responding to the FBU's warning about the dangers of stockpiling fuel, Mr Maude told BBC Radio 4's World at One: "There are legal limits on what you can store, very sensibly, and they have been in existence for some time and I am sure the fire service will communicate this.

"There are perfectly sensible regulations surrounding this, which people will no doubt obey.

"It sounds like people are behaving in an extremely sensible way. There is no kind of dramatic action. Where there is an opportunity sensibly, calmly, to get a bit more fuel they are doing that without any drama.

"There are sensible low-key things that can be done and if they choose to do it, that's one of them, obviously within sensible constraints." The civil contingencies committee Cobra will meet later to discuss measures they will put in place in the event of fuel tanker drivers with the Unite union going on strike.

Unite drivers, who have already voted to go on strike over health and safety standards and terms and conditions, supply 90 per cent of petrol stations in the UK.

Responding to accusations by Labour that the Government had caused alarm by giving people the impression they should panic buy, David Cameron said: "There is no imminent strike. The unions would have to give seven days' notice of any strike so there is no need to queue to buy petrol.

"If there is an opportunity to top up your tank if a strike is potentially on the way, then it is a sensible thing if you are able to do that."

He added: "I absolutely do not want to raise the temperature on this any more than is necessary."

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea