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Alan Mackay reports
"Motorists have been warned about panic buying"
 real 56k

BBC Scotland's Iain MacDonald reports
"Protesters will lead a cavalcade to the Holyrood parliament"
 real 28k

Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 19:49 GMT
Petrol panic-buying resumes
Lorry
A slow-moving convoy will drive to Edinburgh
Police in Fife have issued a warning after motorists started panic-buying petrol amid fears of a new blockade.

Drivers were told their actions could cause shortages in parts of the county.

There have already been reports of petrol stations running out of unleaded fuel in East Kilbride and the west end of Glasgow.

The appeal was made as the government's contingency measures to beat any further fuel blockades were criticised by the Road Haulage Association in Scotland.

A spokesman said: "It has come to the notice of Fife Constabulary that there are some signs of panic-buying of petrol.

"This is obviously in response to the recent national publicity regarding the fuel protests returning.

'Abnormal strain'

"At this time there are no shortages of fuel but this panic-buying is putting an abnormal strain on fuel supplies.

"If people continue to buy fuel as a panic measure however, then the suppliers may not be able to cope with the demand across the country and this will cause shortages in certain areas.

"The public should be assured that at present there is enough fuel for normal use and that preparations are in hand by all agencies concerned should there be any fuel protest in the future."

Jack Straw
Jack Straw: Commons statement
Home Secretary Jack Straw told the Commons the army was being trained to deliver oil supplies.

Action would also be taken to keep roads open and protect food depots.

Mr Straw said any disruption which hit the "weak and vulnerable" but he denied that the government was seeking to pick a fight with the protesters.

The association's director in Scotland, Phil Flanders, accused him of causing "unnecessary alarm and panic" among motorists.

'Spin' claim

None of the demonstrators was planning anything which would disrupt the country, he said.

However, a petrol station at a Glasgow supermarket had signs up on Thursday saying it had run out of unleaded because of the "forthcoming fuel crisis".

Fuel protesters in Scotland are to descend on parliament in the next stage in their campaign for a cut in the price of petrol and diesel.

Gordon Brown
The protesters want to hear Gordon Brown's pre-Budget plans
A meeting in Inverness backed proposals for a slow convoy which will travel the length of Scotland, culminating with a protest at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

The demonstration will travel from John O' Groats to Edinburgh in time for Chancellor Gordon Brown's pre-Budget statement on 13 November.

The meeting stopped short of calling for further demonstrations at the BP Amoco refinery in Grangemouth until the chancellor has revealed his intentions - although blockades have not been ruled out.

Economy warning

Business leaders have warned that disruption of the kind seen in September could damage the Scottish economy.

The protesters are also keenly aware that they need to keep public sympathy on their side.

Protesters also heard details of the so-called Jarrow march, which is organised for Friday, 10 November.

Mound
The demonstration will head for the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh
Organiser Fred Grant said he hoped ordinary members of the public would join the protest on its route from the north of Scotland to Edinburgh.

"It is going to happen and we are going to have a huge turn-out to show the government that the public are behind us," he predicted.

He added that further protests similar to the demonstration which brought Grangemouth to a standstill had not been ruled out completely - but remained "fairly unlikely" as things stood.

Contingency plans

The Scottish Executive is liasing with health boards and councils to draw up contingency plans, and army personnel are being trained to drive tankers if necessary.

East Renfrewshire, which was caught unprepared during September's disruption, is among the councils which have now drawn up their own plans in preparation for renewed action.

In the north-east, the Grampian Joint Emergencies Executive Committee is working with national agencies to minimise any disruption.

The provision of information for the public has been identified as a key factor with plans in train for the use of the internet, call handling and a service for the media.

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See also:

02 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Straw's plan to beat blockades
01 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Blair mounts fuel offensive
30 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Troops trained to beat blockades
05 Oct 00 | Scotland
SNP pumps up fuel price pressure
17 Sep 00 | Scotland
Protesters hold fuel rally
14 Sep 00 | Scotland
Grangemouth picket called off
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