Kate Forbes MSP is set for talks with a supermarket giant Tesco following recent concerns over 24-hour access to fuel at its Mart Road superstore in Dingwall.
The pay at the pump facility has been unavailable for over a month now, and it is understood that emergency services vehicles, that would ordinarily be stationed in the market town as they cover the north of Scotland, now have to travel to Inverness to refuel during the night.
Although there is nothing in the original Tesco planning application requiring 24-hour fuel sales, a Highland Council official remarked that “the Council recollects that it was presented as being a 24 hour operation”.
After writing to senior management, Kate Forbes MSP has now secured a meeting with Tesco officials to discuss how the situation can be resolved.
The Dingwall MSP said: “I’m grateful that Tesco have responded positively and indicated their willingness to meet and discuss the issue further.
“I know I’ve tried to re-fuel later in the evening and found the fuel station closed. I can wait until the following day, but obviously others might not be able to wait.
“That is why I am keen to resolve this as quickly and easily as possible and I’m grateful for the chance to speak to Tesco management about this.”
Kate Forbes MSP added: “Given that 24-hour fuel is readily available in places like Scourie on Scotland’s north coast, it does seem surprising that a supermarket giant like Tesco cannot facilitate this relatively simple facility in a town like Dingwall.
“I hope a solution can be found soon. At face value, there is no good reason why the overnight pay at the pump facility cannot be restored.”
Emergency services personnel, who wished not to be named, had previously said: “As local emergency services personnel we’re very concerned by this development. The fuel station not being available 24 hours-a-day means we have to go out of area to get fuel, usually to Inverness.
“This means there is reduced cover for Dingwall and the surrounding area. If we get a call while at a fuel station in Inverness, and we’re closest, we will get called to it rather than the Inverness team. This inevitably means there is less cover for the area we are supposed to cover.
“Tesco started by just putting cones and a chain across the forecourt entrance now and again. Then it became more regular, and now it is permanent. We don’t need the shop to be open, as we just use the pay at pump facility.”