EARLY reports of a possible shortage of fuel soon became a self-fulfilling prophesy as anxious drivers descended on filling stations across the country.

Queues of vehicles could be seen outside many garages, only to be replaced by hand-written ‘sold out’ signs.

On social media, reports of fuel tankers arriving at forecourts would spark a fresh rush of customers until it was time to bring out the ‘no fuel’ sign once again.

And Ledbury has been no exception.

The team leader at the Gulf P J Nicholls Parkway filling station was dealing with a long queue of customers on Wednesday morning. “It’s just crazy busy,” he said. The business was forced to close its doors on Tuesday after running out of fuel, but had an early delivery the following morning. “We have had two deliveries so far,” he said, adding that no maximum limit had been set on sales.

Meanwhile at the Esso garage on the Homend there was nobody available to comment. However, customers have reported that an upper limit of £35 per customer was in place earlier this week. On Wednesday there were signs outside warning customers that there was no unleaded or diesel available.

Over in Bromyard there was controversy last Saturday when a garage owner changed his pricing board for ‘a bit of fun’. Motorists were shocked when the Top Garage was advertising unleaded at 198.9p per litre

Nigel Davies, one of the owners, said they were in fact still selling petrol for £1.38.9 pence per litre. He added that he changed the sign “as a bit of fun to prove nobody is actually looking at it”. 

As of Wednesday, the garage on the A465 remained open, with drivers queueing to get onto the forecourt. It's currently the only petrol station in the town, with Texaco on the bypass shut for a major refurbishment.

Amid the unprecedented demand for fuel, rural insurers NFU Mutual have warned of a potential rise in diesel thefts. 

Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at the firm, said: “Diesel is essential to keep agriculture running and to keep the nation fed. We have found that price rises and fuel shortages in the past have seen thieves target farms.

“We are urging farmers to be vigilant and to strengthen security, in case a prolonged shortage sees fuel thieves return to the countryside.” 

Meanwhile, local emergency services have sought to reassure residents that they have not been directly affected by any shortages.

West Mercia Police Chief Inspector for Herefordshire, Ross Jones, said: “We would like to reassure the public that the current situation regarding fuel is not impacting the service West Mercia Police provides to the Herefordshire community.  We have contingencies in place which ensure that we are able to respond to those who need our help.”

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We have our own fuel supplies and have not been affected.”

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue service is also working as normal. Group Commander Phill Sanders said: “It’s business as usual for the fire service. We are working with our local partners and currently have no concerns over supplies.”