The threat of major fuel protests which sparked panic buying at petrol stations failed to materialise yesterday after only a handful of campaigners turning up at oil refineries.

Less than half a dozen people stood outside Kingsbury oil terminal near Tamworth urging Chancellor Gordon Brown to reduce tax on fuel.

The scene was a far cry from the protest of five years ago, when the site was blockaded by 20 lorries and tractors.

Jenny Bostock, a 25-year-old engineer from Derby, was the first to arrive at Kingsbury at 8am. She said: ?This is not what I expected but I still think it?s important to make a stand. I am just an individual here for myself but the rising tax on fuel is not right and not fair.

?I would have felt really annoyed if I had just sat at home and moaned without doing anything about it.?

Protester Ray Egan, dressed up as John Bull, arrived at the depot to make a stand.

The pensioner, from Harborne, denied the exercise was a damp squib and believed more protesters would show up.

?If nobody protests nothing will be done about it. At least we are embarrassing the Government by being here, they don?t like anybody protesting.?

Former lorry driver Bryan Need joined the protest for a short while with his 23-month old daughter, Meisha.

Mr Need, of Gresley, Glascote, Tamworth, said: ?The price of fuel is ridiculous. I am not a lorry driver now but I still have to put petrol in my own car and taxes should definitely be lower.?

Damp squib, Page 7