Cambridgeshire home to government’s emergency supply of fuel tankers
- Credit: Terry Harris
Cambridgeshire is one of two centres where reserve tankers are being kept in case the fuel crisis flares again.
Up to 40 tankers are stored at Fenstanton near St Ives and ready to be deployed should they be needed.
It is one of two depots – the other at Bradford – which is where the government tankers are prepared for emergency use.
Steve Barclay, the MP for NE Cambs and Cabinet Office minister, tweeted today: “There is more fuel going to forecourts than there is being sold.
“This trend is continuing, with a bigger net surplus delivered compared to sold.
“Pleased to see the situation stabilising. I urge the public to only top up when necessary.”
But motorists could face another "week or so" of long queues at the filling stations as demand for fuel remains strong, a government minister has warned.
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Policing minister Kit Malthouse said there needs to be an "improvement" in the situation in the coming days and that Boris Johnson stands ready to review matters if there is any deterioration.
His downbeat assessment contrasted sharply with comments by other ministers in recent days that the situation would swiftly return to normal as drivers resumed their usual buying patterns.
It follows a warning by the Petrol Retailers Association that filling stations were running out of fuel faster than they could be resupplied, with one in four forecourts having run dry.
Mr Malthouse told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "We are still seeing strong demand in parts of the country around fuel. The distribution mechanism is trying to respond to this unprecedented demand.
"My latest briefing is that the situation is stabilising, that we are seeing more forecourts with a greater supply of fuel and hopefully that, as demand and supply come better into balance over the next few days, week or so, that we will see a return to normality.
"I think if things started to deteriorate further, obviously the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Energy, whose responsibility this is, will have to review the situation."
His comments came just 24 hours after another minister - Treasury Chief Secretary Simon Clarke - claimed the situation was "absolutely back under control".
Earlier this week Mr Johnson ruled out granting priority access to fuel to healthcare staff on the grounds that it was unnecessary as the situation was "stabilising".
However, Mr Malthouse said there were "pockets" of the country where there were still problems - with London and the south-east reported to be among the hardest hit.
He said efforts were being made to balance out the situation with areas where supplies were strong, but he indicated they were being constrained by the numbers of tankers available.
"What we need to see is a stabilisation and improvement over the next few days," he said.
"Obviously there are only so many tankers that can be used to get this fuel around. They are trying their best to get around as fast as possible.
"There is co-ordination now across the country looking at where there are pockets of supply problems and demand strength and trying to bring the two into balance."
Petrol Retailers Association executive director Gordon Balmer said that while there were signs of improvement, it was happening "far too slowly", with 26 per cent of filling stations still completely out of fuel.
He said independent operators in particular were not getting the supplies they needed.
"Whilst the situation is similar to recent days, there are signs that it is improving, but far too slowly," he said.
"Until independents start getting frequent supplies, we will continue to see long queues at forecourts."