'We were down 30% on a normal week': hospitality hit by fuel supply issues

Video report by Mark McQuillan

The hospitality sector is warning that fuel supply issues are impacting on the finances of businesses across the Thames Valley, as more people stay at home to save petrol.

Road traffic was at around 90% of pre-pandemic levels last week, according to government figures released today.

That's compared to almost 100% before shortages were seen at petrol stations.

  • "I was shocked at how many bookings have been cancelled."

The change in habits has been drastic, with one business owner telling ITV News Meridian her takings were down by almost a third.

Anne Andrews, landlady of the Duke of Edinburgh pub in Winkfield, told ITV News Meridian she was "shocked at how many bookings have been cancelled in the last week."

"We do have an elderly customer [base] at lunchtimes and they were ringing and they just wouldn't come out because they were frightened they'd use up their petrol then wouldn't have their car available for an emergency or anything like that.

"Last week we were down 30% on a normal week"

How have fuel supply issues affected driving habits?

How has it affected driving?

Department for Transport figures show car traffic in Britain on Tuesday last week was at 86% of pre-pandemic levels.

It has not been that low since mid-May.

Traffic for all motor vehicles was close to 100% before the shortage at filling stations, but was closer to 90% between Tuesday and Thursday last week.

On Monday of this week, the most recent day covered by the statistics, car traffic was at 91%, down from 97% a fortnight earlier.

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Have more people been travelling by bus?

Figures from the Department for Transport suggest people were leaving their cars at home and taking the bus, as demand for buses increased during the fuel crisis.

Bus use outside London was at 80% on Monday compared with 77% two weeks ago, while in the capital it rose from 70% to 74% over the same period.

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What about taking the train?

There was also a slight rise in demand on the railways.

Rail travel across Britain was at 61% of pre-pandemic levels on Monday, although that figure is provisional and is expected to be revised upwards.

The latest confirmed figure for rail travel is 60% on Monday of last week.

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"I had to resort to using lawnmower petrol": Customers share their experience of trying to find fuel

Ms Andrews said the shortages "couldn't have come at a worse time."

"The VAT is going back up to 12.5% from 5%, the business rates are being reintroduced, plus everything's gone up, electricity, gas, everything like that, so I just hope the government have sorted everything out so we can get back on to a level playing field."

AA’s head of roads policy Jack Cousens said: “Not only did the fuel shortages, which had been managed successfully up until details of a Government meeting with the fuel industry and hauliers were leaked, leave millions of cars having to queue but they had a direct impact on commerce.

“This has been a woeful chapter in a long history of UK drivers being let down or exploited.

“Electric vehicles with charging at home, supermarkets and so many more places offers a new horizon away from the traumas of the fossil fuel trade.”

The Army have been drafted in to drive fuel tankers. Credit: PA

The government insists that the situation around fuel supply is starting to ease.

But the army is prepared to “sustain” driving fuel lorries to forecourts for “weeks or months” if it has to, the Defence Secretary has said.

At a Conservative Party Conference fringe event on Tuesday, Mr Wallace said: “I think when it comes to HGV drivers with tankers and delivering fuel, getting people in a better equilibrium, I think that is going to be okay.

“Of course I have some more HGV tanker drivers and I also need them to do defence functions.

“But we can sustain it for a good few weeks or months if we have to.”

Mr Wallace also told the fringe event in Manchester that defence staff were helping to train new drivers, adding that more than 50,000 people had now applied for HGV training through the DVLA.

He also said: “As much as I am a great fan of the media obviously if you show the panic in a forecourt in London that trickles through to Preston.”

The Department for Transport has said that 27 emergency visas for fuel tanker drivers have been issued, as well as 100 for food hauliers. A total of 300 are available.