Dingwall MSP Kate Forbes is urging supermarket giant Tesco to restore 24-hour fuel access to its Mart Road superstore after its petrol station stopped selling fuel overnight.
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.
It is thought that once an emergency services vehicle goes to a location such as Inverness it has a far greater chance of being used further afield, which in turn means that there is no cover in the Dingwall area.
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”.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “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 have been told locally that this is having an impact upon emergency services vehicles, with the Dingwall area being left without cover for periods of time as a direct result.
“We are fortunate in Dingwall to have such a great variety of shops, and I pop into Tesco from time to time, so I know that local staff are always very helpful.
“From what I understand this decision appears to have been taken at executive level, so I have written to Tesco’s senior management team urging them to restore the 24-hour fuel access as soon as possible.
“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, added: “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.”