Motorists are enduring another miserable day at the pumps in Barnet as drivers flock to petrol stations amid fears of a tanker driver strike.

Fuel garage managers in the borough reported an increase in sales of up to 75 per cent yesterday and the panic-buying shows no sign of slowing down today.

Many petrol stations have already run out of fuel and drivers are being forced to travel long distances to top up.

The melee began earlier this week when trade union Unite announced it would call a strike among its tanker drivers due to a row over pay and conditions.

Union bosses today ruled out a strike during the Easter break but said they would still consider action after the holiday period.

The union's drivers supply 90 per cent of the country’s petrol stations, sparking concerns of a fuel shortage.

Some say the problem was exacerbated by a government statement that drivers should “stay topped up”.

Mary Campbell tried two garages that were closed before joining the long queue at the Esso station in High Road, East Finchley.

She said: “I thought I was going to have to travel to Potters Bar. It is disgusting what is happening in this country – something needs to be done with the government, telling people to fill up – it is terrible.”

No strike date has been set and the union has said it will give seven days notice before any industrial action but drivers remain concerned.

Traffic was slow along the High Road as motorists scrapped for position in the long line while many were filling up extra cans as well as their vehicles.

One man spilled a jerry can of petrol while trying to pay in the garage, leaving staff to clear up the mess.

Dorothy Rodgers, of Elmhurst Crescent, was being driven to the garage by her granddaughter.

She said: “People are fighting to get to the pumps and cutting the queue everywhere. I’m worried they’re going to run out by the time we get to the front.

“I’m disabled and I rely on my car to get to get about. People are panicking in the build up to the Easter holidays but it is not the right thing to do.”