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Panic-buying queues for petrol are a 'confected crisis', says Hertford and Stortford MP Julie Marson

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Julie Marson, MP for Hertford and Stortford, writes for the Indie...

The queues for petrol that we've seen over the past few days have dominated the news. You will probably have heard more than a few senior members of the Government explaining that this is a confected crisis, similar to the toilet roll crisis early last year.

Figures suggest the shortfall of tanker drivers across the country is somewhere in the region of 150-300. There are about the same number of tanker drivers this week as there were two weeks ago, when everything was operating satisfactorily.

Queues in the Sainsbury's car park at Thorley Park as drivers wait to buy fuel. Pic: Vikki Lince. (51642580)
Queues in the Sainsbury's car park at Thorley Park as drivers wait to buy fuel. Pic: Vikki Lince. (51642580)

Unfortunately, panic-buying means that more motorists are now holding more fuel in their vehicle tanks than usual.

The Government has announced a variety of measures to address the situation, and I really hope that the frenzy will quickly subside and that those working in crucial sectors that are currently struggling to get the petrol and diesel that they need to are able to do so again without disruption as soon as possible.

I was shocked last week to be contacted by constituents whose access to vital cancer treatment at a nearby hospital was disrupted as a result of the Insulate Britain M25 protests.

The pumps out of fuel at the Shell garage in Stansted Road, Bishop's Stortford. Pic: Vikki Lince. (51642584)
The pumps out of fuel at the Shell garage in Stansted Road, Bishop's Stortford. Pic: Vikki Lince. (51642584)

Whatever the cause, blocking the access of others to life-saving services is the wrong way to build support and has had devastating consequences for too many people.

Though the Transport Secretary has secured injunctions against these protestors, when I heard about this incident, I still wanted to raise our local case as a matter of urgency in the House of Commons at Prime Minister's Questions last Wednesday. Although I was not called to speak, I wanted to express my frustration that this could have happened to my constituents and to share the anger of many others who have written to me over the past week.

I support the right to peaceful protest and respect its place as a fundamental part of living in the democratic society that we do, but putting people at risk, as well as preventing them going about their daily lives, is wholly unacceptable.

This event in particular has demonstrated just some of the reasons that the upcoming Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is so important. Our brilliant emergency workers need the increased powers and our own Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, with whom I work closely on various issues of local safety, has voiced his support for this Bill.

I know that some people still have concerns about this Bill, but I would assure them that this legislation has been scrutinised by Members in the usual parliamentary way, to ensure that it is both appropriate and proportionate.

Having served as a magistrate for many years before my entry into political life, I recognise and highly value both strength and fairness in a criminal justice system and the need to balance the rights and obligations of all parties, and I have been pleased to be involved in this Bill's journey through the Commons over the last few months. I have worked closely with the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary during this time and look forward to its remaining passage through the House of Lords and ultimately Royal Assent later this year.

This aspect of my parliamentary work is related to my role as Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Ministry of Justice. I am thrilled to be continuing in this role following the Prime Minister's recent Government reshuffle. Though I will miss working with members of the previous team, I am looking forward to working with the new Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, who is also now Deputy Prime Minister. I have learnt over the past couple of weeks that reshuffles can be brutal, but that is true of much in politics.

A final word on the disturbing incident that occurred on Monday at Budgens supermarket in Sawbridgeworth.

That a hard-working manager serving our community was threatened and robbed at knifepoint in our usually incredibly safe town is deeply concerning for us all, and my thoughts are both with them and their staff.

I know that this is not the first serious incident recently either in Sawbo or elsewhere in and around Bishop's Stortford. I wish to assure residents that I will be raising the issue of crime and public safety again as a matter of urgency with the local police and councils in response, and look forward to working closely with them to discuss exactly how to tackle the root of this pressing issue.

In the meantime, I completely support our local police's efforts to track down whoever was responsible for this crime and hold them to account. Lastly, I, of course, encourage anyone who has any relevant information with regard to this to please come forward and get in touch with the police.

If my own office can be of any assistance to anyone at all, particularly with casework issues, please do drop me an email at julie.marson.mp@parliament.uk.

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