WEARSIDERS were today urged not to panic buy petrol after a Government minister told people to start filling up jerrycans.
As the threat of a fuel tankers strike continued to loom, the public were being encouraged not to be alarmed but just to keep their cars topped up.
The advice came after Cabinet Secretary Francis Maude declared people should begin to store it in their garages and, in particular, in jerrycans.
This was heavily criticised by the Fire Brigades Union and the AA, who said it was potentially dangerous.
Labour also accused Mr Maude of “panicking people all around the country” and said it was “incredibly irresponsible”.
Queues had begun to form at stations across the North East yesterday. Some garages reported a flurry of buyers, with other saying it was just business as usual.
As a result a transport minister’s comments, he was forced to admit the advice had been mistaken.
Paul Jasper, of The Driving Company in Sunderland, said: “We live in a time where everything is hard for everybody and the last thing we want is something like this to come along and make things worse.
“We’re all in this together whether we like it or not.
“We should be looking forward and helping each other overcome these problems because if something like this was to go ahead, it could cripple small businesses, driving schools, taxi drivers and haulage drivers, who are already suffering from bad times.
“I understand health and safety issues in terms of hours of driving but I also understand there are laws and structures across Europe that prevent lorry drivers from going out and driving for 12 hours.
“I believe this should be an internal issue that should be resolved internally and not through strikes.
“If the strike goes ahead, the armed forces will be brought in to deliver fuel and that is time that they can’t spend with their families. Many of them have been fighting in Afghanistan and are being torn away from families because of this strike.”