HOMEOWNERS in Oxfordshire face an “unprecedented” fencing shortage following the recent storms and floods that battered the county.

Gardening stores have sold out of stock after customers rushed to replace panels damaged when strong winds reached speeds of 55mph.

Kingston Bagpuize-based Oxford Fencing Supplies manager Richard Carr said he usually stocked 2,000 panels but had sold out.

He said: “The floods were bad but the storms caused unprecedented demand. There’s been more demand than we’ve ever had at this time of year and we’ve got a back order of more than 1,000 panels.

“A lot of people who come in we have to turn away.

“It’s devastating for some because if you look at your back garden and you have three panels missing then you can’t fill it.

“It’s a desperate time and it causes security concerns for people.”

Alex John, yard manager at Oxford Fencing Centre, in Cowley’s Horspath Indust-rial Estate, said: “We’re under severe pressure trying to meet demands. We’ve gone through three or four months’ of gear in a month - it’s been extreme.

“The company is more than 30 years old and everyone says it’s the worst situation they’ve ever seen.

“We make the panels on site and last Friday, we made 125 panels.

“By 10.30am on Saturday, they were gone.”

Mr John said the centre’s wood was sourced in Ireland but wood-cutting machinery hadn’t been allowed in forests because of the flooding.

Steve Evans, senior salesman in Travis Perkins, West Way, Oxford, said his company had ordered 80 panels two months ago and only 10 were delivered last week because its supplier’s stock was so low.

“Those delivered were sold within a day.

He said: “We’re having a nightmare trying to get hold of 6ft x 6ft panels - they are like gold dust at the moment.

“Nearly every phone call we receive is about fence panels.”

Damian Sage, gardening centre team leader at Homebase, in West Way, said he had sold hundreds of fence panels in most sizes.

The store was sold out of them for several weeks but now has some in stock.

He said: “A lot of the storms started over Christmas but many people didn’t want to repair their fences straight away because the weather stayed the same.

“So it’s literally been over the last month or so that it’s gone crazy for fencing and posts.”

Witney B&Q store manager Karl Taylor said he had also sold out of 6ft x 6ft panels and had not received a delivery that was expected to arrive last week.

He said: “As soon as they come in we believe they will disappear.”