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Police closed some petrol stations Thursday to stop panic buying as the government faced criticism for warning motorists to stock up ahead of a threatened strike by tanker drivers.

Retailers said petrol sales were nearly double normal on Wednesday, while there was a surge in sales of jerrycans after a minister advised people to fill them with fuel, in comments he was later forced to retract.

Opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband called on Prime Minister David Cameron to apologise after the government issued a string of conflicting messages to motorists.

"The prime minister is presiding over a shambles on petrol. The country is paying the price for the incompetent way he is governing," Miliband said.

Police forces in several areas reported queues at petrol stations.

The county of Dorset said it had told some petrol stations to close temporarily because motorists were behaving "irresponsibly" and causing a danger to others.

"Police are taking action, requesting petrol stations to close temporarily in order to keep traffic flowing. Once the queues have dispersed, the petrol stations may reopen for short periods," Dorset Police said.

Emergency services in London and West Sussex said they had been called out to deal with spillages from people overfilling their vehicles.

The Automobile Association said there were "localised shortages, queues and some profiteering" at petrol stations.

Workers in five oil companies have already voted in favour of industrial action over terms, conditions and safety standards but have not yet set a date for a strike.

Negotiators said talks on the strike would not be held before Monday.

The government has said it is training up army tanker drivers to take over in case a strike goes ahead.

But the government on Thursday repeated its advice to people to keep stocked up with petrol, although it toned down the message after a series of conflicting comments by Cameron and other ministers the previous day.

Energy Minister Ed Davey denied the government was creating panic.

"Our major advice is that people just need to do the sensible thing if they're going into the petrol station, they should get a full tank of petrol, not a half-tank of petrol, and they should top up where necessary," he told the BBC.

The fuel saga hotted up on Wednesday when Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said that motorists should fill up jerrycans with petrol and keep them in their garages.

Firefighters said his advice was dangerous -- and illegal depending on the size of the cans involved -- and the government retracted Maude's advice on Thursday.

Roads minister Mike Penning said it had been "a mistake by the cabinet minister... He has apologised since".

The government's words failed to assure motorists. Halfords, a motor supplies retailer, said sales of jerrycans had increased by 500 percent from the same time in 2011.

 

Poor parenting and a lack of support for disenfranchised young people played a major role in sparking last year's riots, an independent panel reported on Wednesday.

The Riots, Communities and Victims Panel report, commissioned by the government, also blamed an inability to prevent reoffending, lack of confidence in the police and poor schooling.

"We must give everyone a stake in society," said panel chairman Darra Singh.

"When people don't feel they have a reason to stay out of trouble, the consequences for communities can be devastating.

"The causes of the riots were complex and there is not one thing that will prevent them from happening again."

The report called on the government and local public services to develop a strategy to help "500,000 'forgotten families' turn their lives around."

Police arrested 4,130 people and charged 2,577 over the riots, an explosion of violence in English cities last summer that left five people dead and raised questions about the state of British society.

Up to 15,000 people are estimated to have taken part, most under 24 with poor academic records, the report said.

An 11-year old boy was last week handed six months' detention for his part in the disorder, becoming the youngest person to be prosecuted over the unrest.

The report suggested that schools be fined if they failed to teach pupils to read and write.

But Labour lawmaker David Lammy said that criticism of schools was "a bit unfair".

Westminster Abbey is to honour two former prime ministers from the 1970s with memorial stones.

Sir Edward Heath and Lord James Callaghan will become the first premiers to receive dedications at the Abbey for more than half a century - and the move marks the centenary of Lord Callaghan's birth.

The memorial stones for Heath, who served as prime minister between 1970 and 1974, and Callaghan, the country's premier from 1976 to 1979, are expected to be unveiled later this year.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr John Hall, said: "The men and women who have contributed most to our island story and our nation's international influence are memorialised in the Abbey, including most prime ministers of the 19th century and of the first half of the 20th century.

"And yet no prime minister since 1956 has a memorial in the Abbey.

"I have decided, with the support of those closest to them, to include two prime ministers from the 1970s, each of whom gave dutiful service in their own time. The announcement falls on the 100th anniversary of James Callaghan's birth.

 

A gunman has opened fire in front of a Jewish school in south-west France, killing several people.

City prosecutor Michel Valet said there were "several dead" in the shooting at a school in Toulouse. He said it was unclear whether the victims were children.

The shooting happened in the same area where a gunman on a motorbike opened fire on three uniformed paratroopers at a bank machine on Thursday, killing two and critically wounding the other.

The attack in the town of Montauban occurred not far from the soldiers' barracks. Four days earlier, a gunman on a motorbike shot and killed another paratrooper in Toulouse.

Authorities said at the time that forensic analysis showed that the same weapon was used in the shootings in Montauban and Toulouse.

 

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans, said Friday he will resign at the end of the year after a decade of turmoil over female and gay bishops.

The bushy-bearded 61-year-old announced in a statement that he would take up a position as master of Magdalene College at Britain's prestigious Cambridge University in January 2013.

"It has been an immense privilege to serve as Archbishop of Canterbury over the past decade, and moving on has not been an easy decision," he said in the statement, released by his office, Lambeth Palace.

"During the time remaining there is much to do, and I ask (for) your prayers and support in this period and beyond."

The Church of England could now see its first black Archbishop of Canterbury, with John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, widely viewed as front-runner to replace Williams.

Williams' successor will be formally appointed by Queen Elizabeth II, who is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Lambeth Palace said Williams's intention to resign had been formally conveyed to the queen.

The actual decision will rest in the hands of a commission grouping senior churchmen and lay people, who will then forward their nomination to British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Welsh-born Williams was appointed the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002, replacing George Carey.

But his tenure was marked by his difficulties in maintaining unity amid disagreements over the consecration of female bishops in Britain, and of openly gay bishops in the United States.

The rows have threatened to cause a permanent rift with conservative Anglican bishops in Africa in particular.

Williams told the Press Association, Britain's domestic news agency, that his resignation comes ahead of a number of key events including a vote by the Church of England this year on whether to give final approval to women bishops.

"A number of what I call watersheds seemed to make this a reasonable moment, at least, to think about moving on," he said.

He admitted that the disagreements within the Church had been a "major nuisance" but insisted they had not clouded his tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury.

"Crisis management is never a favourite activity, I have to admit, but it is not as if that has overshadowed everything," he said.

"It has certainly been a major nuisance. But in every job that you are in there are controversies and conflicts, and this one isn't going to go away in a hurry.

"I can't say that it is a great sense of 'free at last'."

 

More people are in fuel poverty than previously estimated, according to a new formula proposed for assessing the problem.

And the outlook is "profoundly disappointing", according to the independent expert commissioned by the Government to review fuel poverty, with the scale of the problem set to treble by 2016 on 2003 levels.

Under the new formula, which counts people who have to spend more than the typical amount on fuel bills and where the costs push them below the poverty line, 7.8 million people in 2.7 million households in England were in fuel poverty in 2009.

This compares with 7.2 million people in four million households in fuel poverty in 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available, under the current measure that they spend more than 10% of their income heating their homes.

Official figures show that the number of households in fuel poverty has more than trebled since 2004 when 1.2 million families struggled to afford to heat their homes.

The new figures were revealed in a report from Professor John Hills at the London School of Economics and Political Science, commissioned amid concerns about the 10% measure.

The report suggests the new formula because existing figures include people who are not actually poor and do not focus on the twin issues of low incomes and high fuel costs, or measure the depth of the problem. Professor Hills warned fuel poverty was a "serious national problem" which will have trebled in scale from 2003 levels by 2016, the year by which the Government has targets to eradicate the problem.

 

Britain will stick to its plans for a 2014 pullout from Afghanistan despite tensions over the shooting of 16 villagers by a US soldier, David Cameron's spokesman said Monday.

The spokesman said that the killing spree in the southern province of Kandahar, which has sparked a new crisis in relations between western countries and Afghanistan, was "abhorrent".

"This was clearly a tragic event that has taken place. Our hearts and sympathies go out to the families of those that have died," the Downing Street spokesman told reporters.

"As far as we are aware it was an abhorrent act by a single individual. There is a NATO-ISAF investigation underway.

 

The Chief Legal Ombudsman has told lawyers they need to do a better job in explaining their costs and pricing system to customers.

Adam Sampson said around one in four people contacting the legal complaint service does so to bring up the issue of fees.

In a report, he called on legal professionals to be more open and honest about their "confusing" costs and issued separate guidance for consumers and lawyers in an effort to tackle the problem.

The ombudsman said lawyers should clearly explain charges to customers as soon as possible and give a "reasonable estimate" of the total costs of a case.

Mr Sampson said the "key issue" when people use lawyers is confusion.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: "Simply put, when you go to lawyer at an important time of your life, a lawyer very often talks lawyer at you and doesn't make it really crisp and clear what they are going to do for you and what the price is going to be at the end.

"And that ends up in huge confusion. Many of the complaints we see, actually the lawyer hasn't overcharged, it's simply that the customer hasn't understood what the nature of the bill is going to be."

He said clients also often do not understand how much they will be charged.

 

Thousands of jobs are to be created in London by a budget hotel chain over the next decade, with 184 new sites opening.

Travelodge said 5,000 new roles will be created in the capital by 2025, including 500 on its junior management apprenticeship programme.

 

 

David Cameron "probably" rode a horse which was lent by police to former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks, his spokeswoman said.

The Prime Minister rode with Mrs Brooks's racehorse trainer husband Charlie, a friend since they went to school at Eton, while he was Leader of the Opposition.

His mount may have been Raisa, the ex-Scotland Yard horse that it emerged this week was stabled at the couple's Cotswolds home from 2008-10, the spokeswoman said.

But he had "no recollection" of ever having ridden with the ex-tabloid editor herself and had not ridden with Mr Brooks since entering 10 Downing Street, she insisted.