A driving instructor in Hampshire said he and his colleague are ‘stuck between a rock and a hard place’ as they are forced to cancel driving lessons to buy fuel.
Martin Fender and his colleague Allen Stanley run the M&A Driving School and have been teaching people in Fleet, Aldershot, Farnborough and surrounding areas of Hampshire and parts of Surrey to drive for several years.
Over the past few days, the duo have had to cancel classes as fuel supply issues force them to prioritize some students who have tests coming up.
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Martin, 59, said: “Right now we are all in this together. We have tests coming up so we have to make sure we have fuel for the tests and obviously the students doing those tests we obviously do the final lessons making sure they’re completely on their feet.
“It’s a real concern because I’m in Fleet and there’s not a single gas station here with fuel. Nothing.”
The lack of local fuel where he lives in Elvetham Heath has left Martin ‘stuck between a rock and a hard place’ as he must calculate the risks of hoping he can find stations without encroaching on his driving lesson time or don’t disturb and save fuel for students who have tests coming up.
Either decision is currently having a financial impact on the company, as is the sudden rise in fuel prices at a number of local stations.
Martin continued, “I can’t afford to queue anywhere else, so we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either we try to get some fuel and then have to cancel students, or we continue with the fuel we have and hope we have enough for the tests.
“Fuel prices have increased, which will cost us dearly. We cannot pass this cost on to our customers.”
Although Martin has only been an instructor for four years, Allen has been an instructor for much longer and told Martin it was “the worst he’s ever been.”
The duo are in contact with other driving instructors in the area and said everyone is in the same position.
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The situation has not been helped by the “strain” the business has been under after being hit by lockdowns and the coronavirus pandemic. For long stretches over the past 18 months, driving instructor businesses have come to a standstill due to social distancing rules.
Martin said: “We came out of lockdown and the tests are hard enough to find as they are. We have all this pressure and now we’re driving around trying to find fuel all day and it’s just the worst it’s ever been.”
In an impassioned plea to panic buying motorists, Martin asked people to “give gas stations time to fill up” as he called the situation “frustrating”.
He said: “We don’t need to panic buy. The thing is, we panic buy for no reason. I was in the line and I managed to get some yesterday and I was very lucky, and the lady in front of me probably put, I would say, six or eight pounds of fuel in her car and then is gone back.
“I thought ‘what was it for?’ If we all stop buying now and use the fuel we have, give gas stations time to fill up, none of us will have a problem.
“Calm down and buy what you need and you’ll be fine.”
“It’s frustrating for us and for everyone, but how can you stop them?”
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