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Rutland MP Alicia Kearns discusses fuel and petrol station issue

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As your MP, I get many emails asking for support, writes Rutland MP Alicia Kearns. Often, I am able to help – overturning incorrect judgements by government bodies, helping with housing needs, and working with the clinical commissioning group to ensure vaccination centres, like the new one in Oakham, have the right vaccines so people aren’t left without the correct second dose.

Sometimes though, there is very little I can do to help – and the recent spate of panic buying of fuel is one such issue. There is plenty of fuel in our refineries and terminals. There was no shortage of fuel in the UK. That’s been made clear by the Government, by oil companies and by the logistics companies.

Like with the run on toilet roll, flour and pasta at the start of the pandemic, the issue is not supply. It’s demand going far above normal levels – and fuel supplies are just the same. People have been buying fuel far in excess of what they normally need, up to four times as much – and harming their neighbours in the process. Petrol stations ordered the amounts of petrol needed to meet normal demand, and there is only so much they can store at one point. I’ve been contacted by nurses unable to get to work, families unable to visit sick relations and carers forced to leave the elderly and vulnerable without care because demand for petrol was four times normal levels.

Alicia Kearns
Alicia Kearns

We know that, at present, there is a shortage of drivers – which is does not help. Many in the London media have been pronouncing that this is because of Brexit. It isn’t – the continent is experiencing driver shortages every bit as bad as ours. And these are partly caused by people being unable to book their HGV tests during lockdowns.

The Government has acted to prioritise HGV tests, and activated plans to bring the Government reserve tanker fleet onto the roads – and to bring in the Army to help, as they do whenever the civil authorities are in an unexpected, unprecedented position. They’re also working with industry to ensure that drivers are paid appropriately.

Last week, I visited the Desert Rats at Kendrew Barracks, who do an incredible job to keep our country safe. In the same room where Covid-19 testing operations were planned, once again our men and women are stepping forward to support us at home and have been planning the logistics for Operation ESCALIN – getting up to 250 soldiers behind the wheel of petrol tankers to provide surety of supply.

As always the men and women of our Armed Forces stand ready to do what is needed to support our country – without complaint, and to an incredibly high standard.

I’ve always supported our Armed Forces – they are the best in the world. My visit to Kendrew Barracks only increased my immense admiration for them. I know that everyone in Rutland will join me in thanking these heroes – and be as grateful as I am for our neighbours in Kendrew Barracks who have been working around the clock to ensure that we can get to work, visit our family and go about our daily business. I was privileged to discuss the importance of our Armed Forces and high readiness forces at the Conservative Party Conference this week alongside the Defence Secretary, and former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, former Australian Foreign Secretary Alexander Downer.

Thank you to our Armed Forces – especially the Desert Rats. And thank you to all of you, for buying fuel sensibly, and helping to get our country moving again.

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