Cllr Phil King sent out his urgent plea to thousands of motorists as popular petrol stations in Market Harborough were forced to shut after running out of fuel.
And people have been queueing at outlets that are still open across Harborough over the weekend as the whirlwind fuel crisis has suddenly deepened throughout the UK.
Cllr King told the Harborough Mail this morning: “My message to people the length and breadth of Harborough is simple – stop panic buying petrol.
“There are drivers out there who have thrown all common sense and sanity to the wind – it’s mad.
“It’s all about me, me, me for too many people unfortunately.
“We have got a carbon copy repeat of the toilet roll drama 18 months ago when shoppers rushed out to snap up loo paper at the start of the Covid pandemic,” said Cllr King.
“Use your common sense and buy what you need – no more no less.
“We’ve all seen photos of selfish motorists filling up cans and containers as well as their tanks.
“That’s an absolute nonsense.
“The retailers should impose controls and ration people to stop them taking far more fuel than they need and selfishly denying other members of our communities.
“This crisis has been whipped up by certain sections of the national media too.
“And the bigger picture is that lorry drivers haven’t suddenly vanished overnight,” said the Conservative council chief.
“This situation has been coming on down the line for a long while now.
“The haulage industry has got to get its act together and start to recruit more HGV drivers and younger HGV drivers to get us back to where we should be.”
Cllr Phil Knowles, who leads the Liberal Democrat group on Harborough council, backed Cllr King’s appeal as he told the Mail today: “Please just buy what ever petrol you need.
“Don’t stick £50 of petrol in your tank if you only require a tenner’s worth for the week.
“If you take too much you could well be denying the next person the chance to buy fuel.
“And what if that next customer is a key worker?
“You could be stopping a paramedic filling up their ambulance for instance,” warned Cllr Knowles.
“And that could be the difference between life and death.
“We are said to have a national shortfall of 100,000 lorry drivers – and that’s just incredible.
“There’s obviously an awful lot that needs to be done in the medium and long term to put this right.
“But in the short term we all have to help and do our bit by just buying the fuel that we need – and not a drop more,” insisted Cllr Knowles.
He spoke as the busy Sainsbury’s petrol station on Springfield Street in Market Harborough was still closed today after running out of fuel at the weekend.
A London-based Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We’re experiencing high demand for fuel.
“We’re working closely with our supplier to maintain supply and all our sites continue to receive fuel.”
The Co-op outlet on Coventry Road, Market Harborough, has run out of diesel.
A Co-op member of staff said that “demand has shot through the roof” as he urged drivers to “use their common sense”.
“We are hoping to get a diesel delivery in the next 24 hours.
“My message to people is straightforward – please be reasonable and think of other people.
“We haven’t got a problem with supplies – there is enough fuel to go round,” he said.
“But don’t keep filling up your tank if you don’t have to.”
Drivers have been queueing up to fill up at the Tesco petrol station on Rockingham Road, Market Harborough.
A Tesco spokesperson said: “We have good availability of fuel - and we’re working really hard to ensure regular deliveries to our petrol filling stations across the UK every day”.
The High Street retail giant said they “experienced some temporary outages in a small number of areas”.
Tesco said that while the industry-wide shortage of HGV drivers has sparked “distribution challenges” they are working flat out to “ensure supply is replenished as quickly as possible when this happens”.
The company, which has over 500 petrol stations, said they are not rationing fuel.
The petrol outlet at Protheroes motor dealers on Northampton Road, Market Harborough, is shut today after fuel supplies ran out.
A member of staff said they are “completely out of fuel” but are hoping to get a new delivery of both petrol and diesel tomorrow (Tuesday).
“We have run out because people have been panic buying.
“There is no need to.
“So please buy just what you need to when we do get a fresh delivery and think of other drivers as well as yourself,” he said.