Up to 30pc of taxi drivers unable to work due to fuel shortage, says industry amid calls for priority list

Up to 30 per cent of taxi drivers are unable to work due to the ongoing fuel crisis, an industry leader has said amid calls for a priority list for key workers.

Steve McNamara, the General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, has called for critical workers to be given exclusive access to certain petrol stations as he said that 25 to 30 per cent of his members were unable to work on Tuesday.

He said the situation at petrol forecourts is "not getting any better", as motorists continued to queue for hours to fill up their tanks and one man was filmed threatening a fellow driver with a knife.

Mr McNamara told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that "a taxi driver without fuel is unemployed" and that the Government setting up designated petrol stations for essential workers would "take the sting out of the crisis".

The designated filling station scheme, ensuring taxi drivers and other critical vehicles would be given priority, was first implemented by Tony Blair during the fuel crisis in 2000.

Mr McNamara also warned the situation "is going to get worse" by the weekend if essential workers were unable to get fuel, and added that "the Government policy at the moment of simply hoping it’s going to go away is just not realistic".

The warnings come as hospitals confirmed there was not enough fuel to bring patients in for consultations and cancer appointments at University College Hospital were postponed.

Dr David Wrigley, deputy chair of the British Medical Association, called on the Government to urgently make a plan to deal with the crisis.

He told Sky News: "We can’t be waiting in queues for two or three houses for diesel or petrol when we have patients to see."

On Tuesday, ministers formally approved plans to bring in Army personnel to be ready to deliver fuel supplies to petrol forecourts across the country within days.

The Defence Secretary Ben Wallace put around 150 military drivers on standby, but no decision has been made yet on whether they will be deployed.

Boris Johnson also moved to calm fears on Tuesday, saying the situation at petrol stations was "stabilising" following a week of shortages.

The Prime Minister told people to go about their business "in the normal way" and added that moves had already been taken to ensure there were no shortages at Christmas.

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