‘Knife’ pulled and brawls break out at pumps as fuel queues show no sign of letting up

28 September 2021, 10:25 | Updated: 28 September 2021, 12:51

  • Huge queues and further violent scenes at pumps as fuel crisis enters fifth day
  • Government accused of not doing enough to help fix the situation
  • Transport Secretary says there are signs it may be stabilising but there won't be an 'immediate' effect on queues
  • Average petrol prices at UK forecourts rise from 134.86p per litre on September 20 to 135.19p per litre on Monday
  • Calls grow for emergency workers to be put at the front of queues

By Emma Soteriou

A driver pulled a knife on a motorist and was then carried off on the car's bonnet in a furious clash at a petrol pump as the fuel crisis shows no sign of letting up.

Motorists were queueing as the crisis entered day five today, with accusations No10 hasn't done enough to help, and further questions being raised over suggestions from the government that the crisis will end in a few days' time.

Violent clashes have begun breaking out at forecourts around the country. In one shocking clip shared to Instagram, a man approaches a car with what appears to be a knife by his side, shouting through the window at a driver who is believed to have jumped the queue.

The incident, which took place in Welling, South East London, continued to unfold in front of a queue of cars, which were lined up, waiting to get to the petrol station's forecourt.

The man ends up being carried on the car's bonnet as it drives forwards into the station to try and fill up. He proceeds to kick the car door multiple times, before aiming for the side mirror as it drove off.

Read more: 'You couldn't pay me enough': Lorry driver explains why no one wants to drive trucks in UK

Read more: Army on standby as fuel crisis enters day five and calls grow for 999 heroes to jump queue

The Metropolitan Police said: "Police were called at 2.37pm on Monday, September 27 to reports of a disturbance involving two motorists outside a petrol garage in Bellegrove Road, Welling. 

"Officers attended and found no trace of either vehicle. No injuries were reported and no suspects were identified. 

"We are aware of footage online which appears to show the incident and will review this as part of our ongoing enquiries."

Brawls have taken place on forecourts across the country in recent days, as motorists have been trying to fill up their tanks in a panic-buying frenzy.

Another driver filmed a fight taking place in front of fuel pumps, with two people throwing punches and lashing out with kicks before grappling each other to the ground in Chichester.

Videos have also emerged of people claiming their car's fuel tanks have been drained while parked. Shadrack Olaloko, from Birmingham, said: "What these guys did was they came and drained out all my fuel in the tank".

Desperate drivers have also been filling up with the wrong fuel because of the panic.

The AA said around 250 drivers have had to be rescued by its specialist 'fuel assist' team on Saturday and Sunday, compared to around 20 in normal circumstances. 

150 troops are understood to be on standby to help deliver fuel as demand continues to surge as people keep panic buying.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said there are "tentative signs" that pressure on filling stations is beginning to ease.

Mr Shapps said there was more petrol in the filling stations, although he acknowledged it would not have an immediate impact on the queues for fuel.

"There are now the first very tentative signs of stabilisation in forecourt storage which won't be reflected in the queues as yet," he said.

"But it is the first time that we have seen more petrol actually in the petrol stations.

"As the industry said yesterday, the sooner we can all return to our normal buying habits, the sooner the situation will return to normal".

Long queues were again reported outside stations which were open, after the Government announced it was putting the Army on standby in an effort to ensure supplies were maintained.

But oil companies have said they expect the pressure on forecourts to ease in the coming days, with many cars carrying more fuel than usual.

However the chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), Brian Madderson, said that there was little sign of that happening - with social media driving the dash to the pumps.

"As soon as the tanker arrives at a filling station people on social media are advising that a tanker has arrived and it is like bees to a honeypot.

"Everyone flocks there and within a few hours it is out again."

Ministers announced late on Monday that soldiers were being put on standby to deliver fuel, amid concerns that a shortage of tanker drivers was threatening the ability of the oil companies to maintain supplies.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson originally drew back from activating Operation Escalin - first drawn up to deal with the aftermath of Brexit - for troops to fill in and drive tankers.

The Government had been hoping that the queues would ease as people returned to more normal buying patterns.

However Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who issued the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities request, said putting troops on readiness to assist was a "sensible, precautionary step".

"If required, the deployment of military personnel will provide the supply chain with additional capacity as a temporary measure to help ease pressures caused by spikes in localised demand for fuel," he said.

It was reported that initially 75 drivers would be given additional training to enable them to drive tankers, with a further 75 available if required.

Ministers have repeatedly urged the public not to panic buy, insisting the country has "ample" supplies of fuel.

However the calls appeared to fall on deaf ears, with the PRA reporting that many motorists, when they were able to find a filling station that was open, were taking on far more fuel than usual.

Meanwhile the Government continued to face calls to give priority access to fuel supplies to healthcare staff and other essential workers.

Dr David Wrigley, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association, warned essential services could be hit if staff were unable to get to work because they could not fill up.

The NASUWT teaching union said priority access should also be given to teachers if children were not to face further disruption to their education.

General secretary Patrick Roach said: "For many teachers, the use of public transport is simply not an option, with many schools in areas that are not easily accessible other than by using private vehicles.

"Without such intervention, many teachers will struggle to get to their places of work on time, adding to the daily uncertainty and disruption faced by children and young people."