Market traders' fears over continued fuel crisis
- Credit: Tatyana Allenby
Businesses, market traders and even a football club have reported the dramatic impact of the ongoing fuel crisis.
Drivers in Norfolk and across the UK have been repeatedly told in recent days not to panic buy petrol and diesel.
But that has not stopped motorists dashing to the pumps, with long queues seen in various towns including Dereham and Fakenham.
Some garages have even run dry within hours of taking deliveries.
There is not, however, a shortage of fuel.
The issue lies with a lack of HGV drivers to get fuel from the country's refineries to petrol stations.
Among those to highlight serious concerns are market traders, who worry the situation may prevent them from working.
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Alex Buckenham, who runs catering business, Get Stuffed, managed to fill the tank of his van at a local garage on Friday (September 24).
He says the vehicle will only be used for business purposes, but still fears missing out on crucial income.
“It is hard as a market trader because this is my living," said Mr Buckenham, who attends markets in Dereham, Fakenham and Swaffham.
“I could survive for two or three weeks but, after that, I would start to worry.
"Without going to markets, I would be losing a lot of money. Towards the end of the week are my busier markets.
“Then you have the knock-on effect such as customers asking where you are, and they go elsewhere to get food. You don’t want to be missing."
For Bunning's fishmongers, based in Cranworth, near Shipdham, there is little concern over their own access to fuel, but rather for their customers.
Owner George Bunning said he had noticed a dramatic reduction in footfall at weekend markets.
“On Saturday nobody was about," he added. "It was a very poor day with very few people around.
"None of our London or Essex customers came up to the market. I think I was down 25pc on turnover."
Mr Bunning is hopeful, however, that there will not be a long-lasting impact on trade.
“It won’t have any lasting damage," he said.
“This week will be the worst, but I think next week things will start settling down and hopefully we will get back to normal."
Another trader facing uncertainty is Sacha Beales, owner of Drip Drop Bake Stop, who attends seven markets in locations including Fakenham, North Walsham and Swaffham.
But she has been unable to get petrol from her local station on Cromer Road in Norwich, even when trying as early as 5am.
Mrs Beales does not know, therefore, whether she will get to any markets this weekend.
“I could do Fakenham and North Walsham but, after that, I will have to think about what I can do at the weekend.
“If we can't get to the Sheringham we'll lose a lot as it is one of our busiest markets. We'd then have to shut down until we get petrol in the van."
The ongoing fuel crisis has even disrupted the sporting world.
Dereham Town FC was forced to postpone its home match against Bury Town on Tuesday night, with the Magpies "unable to get enough club officials and volunteers to the ground".
A spokesman for Bury Town added: "A directive came from the Isthmian League that, should any club wish to postpone their fixtures, they could do so due to the current fuel issues."
While many motorists have been left struggling, Dereham taxi driver Peter Sessions, of JMS Taxis, has reason to be cheerful.
He made history earlier this year when his car became Breckland's first fully-electric licensed taxi.
Mr Sessions said: “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I jumped on board six months ago and I haven’t looked back.”
On the issues caused by panic buying, he added: "I drove to the taxi rank in Dereham and the drivers there were all understandably in a panic. I was winding them up a little bit and we all enjoyed a bit of banter.
“I do feel a little bit smug but I wouldn’t want to rub it in their faces. They are all trying to make a living too. I have told them they should all look into getting electric cars though."