Fuel shortage causes issues for countryside pubs

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Fuel crisis: operators have told of issues due to problems with fuel (image: Getty/esemelwe)
Fuel crisis: operators have told of issues due to problems with fuel (image: Getty/esemelwe)

Related tags Legislation Kent Sussex Government

Owners of countryside pubs across the south east of England reported that the fuel crisis has caused problems for business.

The fuel crisis – caused by a disruption of the road fuel supply due to ‘panic buying’ – has caused a drop in footfall, disrupted supply chains and a struggle for staff to get to work. 

Dave Jeffery, licensee of the Royal Oak in Hooksway, West Sussex, estimated footfall had fallen by about 50% throughout the fuel shortage. 

He said: “[Some] 90% of my customers have got to get in their cars and drive to me. So obviously, if they’re unsure of where they're going to get their next fuel from, it's obviously going to affect them coming out, isn't it?”

Dramatically affected

Furthermore, Marc Bridgen, owner of Kent pub the Dog at Wingham, said his pub has been “dramatically affected” by the fuel crisis, estimating a loss of between £5,000 and £8,000 in revenue. 

“The week before the fuel crisis, our rooms are 98% occupied, and I'm yet to do the full analysis of the following week, but my gut tells me around 50 to 60% occupied,” he said. 

“Everyday we had one or two tables cancelled because people couldn't get fuel, and we had two or three rooms cancelled in that week because people couldn't travel, and then on top of the known cancellations we also had a total drop in walk-ins on the day. 

“You know, normally say we have 10 tables booked at lunch, we will typically double it with walk-ins, and last week we had none, apart from the Friday I think we have two walk-in tables."

Driver shortage

Bridgen also discussed the impact on staff: “It's either made their lives very, very stressful, or it’s added to the length of their working day, because they've been finishing work at ungodly hours, or starting very early, but having to queue for 30 to 60 minutes before or after their shift.” 

The fuel shortage has also affected supply chain issues. James Clarke, licensee and general manager of the Rose & Crown in Cuckfield, West Sussex, has seen this over the past few days. “I've got some of the toilet rolls, blue rolls and chemicals that I have been waiting on for two weeks, and they've said it's down to the lack of having petrol to send their drivers out,” he said. 

Sir Keir Starmer has called on PM Boris Johnson to take “emergency action” to combat the fuel crisis, which stems from a lack of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers. 

The Labour leader said the prime minister should recall parliament – which is suspended for the party conference season – to pass emergency legislation.  

In a statement, he said: “We’re going to see this driver shortage problem coming back again in different sectors. And I don’t want people in this country to have another Christmas ruined by this prime minister’s lack of planning.” 

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