A Northfleet driving instructor had to cancel five lessons as he was unable to top up his tank amid ongoing fuel shortages.

Peter Atkins, 55, who travels up to 100 miles a day, was forced to reschedule the £60 sessions, having failed to find any petrol for this week.

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) said while the Army have been called in to help deliver fuel to forecourts and there is a “marked improvement” in the situation across most of the country, London and the South East have only seen a marginal” improvement.

He said: “I don’t know why people are being the way they are. It’s getting beyond a joke – cancelling lessons and moving lessons and having extra hours on people’s lessons.

News Shopper: A tanker driver makes a fuel delivery at a petrol station in south London (PA)A tanker driver makes a fuel delivery at a petrol station in south London (PA)

“I went out yesterday to get some petrol for this week and couldn’t find any. I’m losing money and it’s getting beyond a joke.”

Mr Atkins added because the test centre in Gravesend was removed a decade ago, despite attempts to get the Government to reconsider their decision, he has to go to Sidcup most of the time, which is about 15 miles from his house.

“Some days I go 100 miles a day, going back and forth. I average about 35 to 40 miles per pupil. Sometimes I have to fill up more than twice a week.”

The PRA said its survey of a quarter of all independent petrol stations in Great Britain on Monday morning showed that around a fifth of these sites around London and the South East remained without fuel.

When it comes to the rest of the country that figure was 8%, said the PRA, adding that 86% of sites surveyed have both petrol and diesel available.

The association represents independent forecourts across the UK and works with around 80% of all motorway services areas.

Gordon Balmer, executive director of the PRA, said it is “grateful” that the Government has brought in military drivers to make deliveries but called for more action to address “the needs of disproportionately affected areas”.

He said: “Today’s figures show the situation is still challenging around London and the South East despite a marginal improvement: 62% of the sites surveyed have both grades of fuel (petrol and diesel) available, 18% have only one grade and 20% are dry.

“Across the rest of the country, however, there has been a marked improvement since yesterday with 86% of sites having both grades of fuel thanks to steady deliveries and stabilising demand, 6% having only one grade and 8% being dry.

“We are grateful for the support lent by the Government through their provision of military drivers, although further action must be taken to address the needs of disproportionately affected areas”.

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