Queues built up outside Bridgnorth’s two main petrol filling stations – Esso in Low Town and Rutters in High Town – as panic over fuel supplies swept through the district yesterday.
The queues sparked fears the town would not be able to cope with demand for petrol following this week’s strike call by the tanker drivers’ union Unite in a row over working conditions.
The problems could soon worsen after Rutters, in Salop Street, revealed it would cease trading on April 27 after failing to find a new premises, leaving Bridgnorth town centre with just one filling station.
The garage had until November to move off the site before developers McCarthy and Stone began work on a 58-home development, but has decided to close early.
Meanwhile, car dealerships Faintree and Inchcape Volkswagen, in Holybush Road, are also moving to Telford.
But David Dexters, in The Bull Ring, Low Town, plans to extend its workshop capacity with additional MOT lanes and vehicle lifts, to cope with an expected increase in demand.
Bridgnorth Mayor Councillor Connie Baines said the changes were likely to have a major effect on the town.
She said: “Cars channeling into one place, for petrol and services, are going to cause all sorts of problems.
“I get my petrol from Rutters but I’ll have to change my format and either go earlier in the morning or later at night.
“A town this size should have more than one main garage but we’ll just have to live with it.
“People will probably start filling up on the their out or in to the town.”
Rutters, which started in 1930 and employs 15 people, is closing permanently after failing to find a new location.
Managing director Tony Edwards said the garage had been finding it difficult to compete with supermarkets over fuel prices adding it would have cost about £250,000 to replace the ageing petrol pumps and lines, which were about 45 years old.
But Richard Whitney, managing director of Dexters, established 25 years ago, said since new management had taken over the company in 2005 the business had seen continual growth – and now further expansion was on the cards.
He said: “On Monday Tim Guest, a VW trained master technician, with over 17 years’ experience, will be joining the team to provide local continuity for VW car owners.
“Over the past six years we have invested in the business by installing additional lifts, a state of the art MOT lane – which can handle larger, class 7, vehicles – the latest computerised diagnostic equipment, new tyre fitting equipment and an improved reception area.
“We have also increased our staff from five to 10, providing more employment for local people.”