13 September 2000
Cheshire blockade comes to an end?
By FWi staff
A FARMERS blockade at key oil refinery where recent protests against fuel prices began, is reported to have come to an end.
Eight tankers left the Shell refinery in Stanlow, Cheshire, on Wednesday (13 Sep) morning, in defiance of farmers and hauliers who have been picketing there for a week.
The BBC Today programme says Brynle Williams, leader of Welsh farmers at Stanlow, has conceded that the blockade had been broken.
But Mr Williams insisted that the protestors, whose action has seen the country come close to running out of fuel, had won a moral victory.
Earlier in the night demonstrators had allowed tankers to leave a number of refineries to provide fuel for essential services.
The government says 60 tankers have left five major depots.
Senior police officers say tankers can now get in and out of refineries without restriction, but it is as yet unclear how many are moving.
On Wednesday, after day-long discussions with police and oil companies, Prime Minister Tony Blair vowed that the blockade would be broken.
He said services should be “on the way back to normal” by Wednesday evening.
Mr Blair insisted that the government could not “possibly, responsibly” introduce an emergency budget to alter taxes on fuel.
However, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott speaking on the Today programme gave protesters some hope.
Asked if there was more money available to tackle fuel prices, Mr Prescott said theres some substance in it.
This has prompted speculation that ministers, widely held to have misjudged the strength of feeling on the issue, may take action on fuel prices at the next budget.