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The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"From next week we could be experiencing the worst food shortages since the 1970s"
 real 56k

Liam Olliff, of transport group Transfigoroute UK
"We are saying to various supermarkets 'I'm sorry we cannot deliver to you'"
 real 56k

Thursday, 14 September, 2000, 06:57 GMT 07:57 UK
Fuel crisis hits services
empty shelves in supermarket
Some supermarkets say food supplies are running out
The continuing shortage of petrol is causing major problems for supermarkets, hospitals, schools, postal services and public transport, some of which risk grinding to a halt if fuel supplies do not reach them soon.

The calling off of some blockades on Thursday morning means more fuel is now starting to get through, with the supply of essential services remaining a priority.

Many bus depots across the country are restricting passenger services and say they could run out of diesel by the weekend if fuel supplies do not start to filter through.

Some supermarkets have been rationing basic supplies such as bread and milk as shoppers began to panic buy.

Sir Peter Davis, chief executive of Sainsbury's, has written to Tony Blair to warn that his supermarket chain would run out of food in "days rather than weeks".

Two customers came in and tried to clear us out of bread in one fell swoop

Kevin Hawkins, Safeway

"The problem is getting diesel into our depots and getting supplies into our shops," he said.

"And the suppliers, growers and producers delivering milk, bread and everything else to us are having great difficulties."

Panic buying meant Sainsbury's had sold one and a half times as much produce as normal on Wednesday and Tuesday, Sir Peter added.

At Tesco's in Eastville, Bristol, bread and milk is being rationed, and the picture is the same at supermarkets in Bridgwater and Gloucester.

The Co-op in Saltford near Bath says all its bread supplies sold out by 0945 BST on Wednesday and it is now limiting milk to four pints per person.

Kevin Hawkins, Safeway's communications director, said its staff would prevent people from stockpiling products such as bread.

The M25 practically deserted as the fuel crisis bites
The M25: Usually packed with delivery lorries
"In one of our stores two customers came in and tried to clear us out of bread in one fell swoop. Clearly that is not acceptable." he told BBC News 24.

In Northamptonshire, Budgens supermarket chain has reported that some of its suppliers are beginning to be hit.

Businesses are losing up to 250m a day in the crisis, according to the London Chamber of Commerce.

Simon Sperryn, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce said: "The effects are being felt right across the economy with sectors of retail, distribution and freight all being hit extremely hard,"

'NHS under pressure'

The NHS has also warned that it is under massive pressure in the on-going crisis and says lives are being put at risk.

Ambulance services across the UK are only answering emergency calls and several hospitals have cancelled non-emergency operations.

Despite measures to ensure doctors and nurses are supplied with fuel, district nurses say they have no petrol with which to visit vulnerable and terminally ill patients.

Schools across the country are closing, amid fears that they do not have the number of teachers to ensure pupil safety.

They are also concerned that children could end up stranded by the roadside as vehicles run out of fuel.

The Post Office will soon be facing significant disruption to its services

Post Office spokesman
One council in Wales is closing all 19 of its secondary schools from Thursday because of the fuel shortage.

But banks have dismissed fears that branches will run out of cash because of the fuel shortages.

A spokesman for the organisation responsible for filling cash machines said it had not been hit by the protest so far.

But the Post Office has said its deliveries face "significant disruption" unless there is a dramatic improvement in fuel supplies.

A spokesman said: "It is only sensible that we begin planning now to reduce services should there not be a dramatic improvement to fuel delivery services soon."

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13 Sep 00 | Health
NHS pressures to continue
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