M4 closed as fuel protesters clash with cops and fed-up drivers play football
Furious drivers are bringing motorways around the country to a halt in a "go-slow" protest over with the rising cost of fuel. People were spotted playing football on the M4 where traffic was brought to a standstill by motorists intentionally driving slowly in a demonstration against the high prices. Several passengers got out of their cars and walked to the other side of the road for a kick about after the motorway was closed in both directions just after 8.30am on Monday, reports Wales Online.
Walking on motorways is illegal under specific traffic laws set out by The Motorways Traffic Regulations 1982. Have you been affected by the fuel protest? Get in touch at [email protected]
Meanwhile one driver in Cornwall was arrested for "unsafe driving" during another demonstration on the A38.The protests caused major disruption to motorways (Media Wales)
The protests are understood to be organised by social media under the banner Fuel Price Stand Against Tax. Affected roads include the M4, M5, M180, River Severn Bridge crossings, and the A48 in Gloucester. Police are at the scene to ensure the protest is carried out legally and are warning of more "serious disruption" throughout the day.
Three lane motorways are most likely to see slow-downs on two lanes, leaving the fast lane free, according to FairFuelUK founder Howard Cox.Some drivers took to the other side of the motorway to play football during the standstill (Media Wales)
The protesters are calling for a cut in fuel duty as some commuters are paying up to GBP150 per day at the pumps while others have been forced to quit their jobs as they can no longer afford the bill. Mobile welder Richard Dite, from Maesteg, South Wales, said it is costing him more than GBP300 in fuel to get to work every week due to price hikes. The 44-year-old was among a dozen protesters at the Prince of Wales Bridge, connecting England and Wales, which was brought to a standstill during the morning rush hour.Police are warning of "serious disruption" throughout the day (Media Wales)
"My only option soon will be to put the welding gear in the shed and call it a day, maybe go on the doll," Mr Dite explained.
"Face it at this rate I'll be on more that way." Meanwhile Vicky Stamper, 41, and her partner Darren were forced to leave their jobs in Bristol because they could no longer afford the fuel.Fuel price protest - all the roads and motorways affected by serious disruption
The former HGV driver, from Cwmbran, said: "We had to leave those jobs because it was costing us GBP380 a week just to get to and from work. "I then lost a job two weeks ago because the company couldn't afford to put fuel in that many lorries so, last in first out."
Ms Stamper said the situation had taken an emotional toll on her and her family and said she is protesting for herself and fellow drivers.Protestors clash with officers trying to stop them leaving Ferrybridge Services in West Yorkshire (Lee McLean/SWNS)
"We're doing this for us and for them. If they want to have a moan, they should join us instead," she said. Asked what she would ask Boris Johnson to do, she said: "Resign."
Martin Crowley, 48, from Cardiff said fuel prices are also damaging his livelihood. The self-employed exotic animal courier said: "Fuel cost me GBP280 over two days last week. It's unbelievable.
You can hardly make a living any more."Motorists opened their car doors and stretched their legs in the road during the chaos (Media Wales)
One driver was arrested by Devon and Cornwall police due to "unsafe driving" on the A38 where vehicles were travelling at a "dangerously low speed". A spokesperson for the force said that the motorist had "ignored a previous warning and has now been arrested." Meanwhile in Shropshire, fuel price campaigners held a protest on the M54.
West Mercia Police officers were in attendance as protesters travelled in slow convoy on the motorway between J1 and J4 from 7am until around 8.30am.Campaigners say they are protesting for themselves and fellow drivers (Media Wales)
"Unfortunately the tactics used by some protesters today compromised the safety of other road users," a force spokesperson said. "Officers gathered evidence during the event and we will take action against those who committed road traffic offences. "The ability to protest is a fundamental part of democracy, however, when protests start to endanger the public and put the safety of others at risk, appropriate and proportionate action will be taken."Walking on motorways is banned under specific travel laws (Media Wales)
The M5 protest has now finished, according to police.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said he will carefully consider calls for a "more substantial" fuel duty cut after the 5p per litre reduction implemented in March failed to halt price rises. Figures from data firm Experian show the average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts reached a new high of 191.4p on Thursday, while diesel rose to 199.1p.Officers tried to stop the protesters from leaving the service station where they gathered in West Yorks (Lee McLean/SWNS)
The government said while it understands people are struggling with rising prices and have a right to protest, "people's day-to-day lives should not be disrupted" and warned that traffic delays "will only add to fuel use". Mr Cox said while his organisation is not involved in the action, he is "fully supportive" of the demonstrations so long as they are conducted legally.Campaigners create a blockade on the M4 towards the Prince of Wales Bridge on Monday (Tom Wren SWNS)
"I totally support their protest because people have reached the end of their tethers at the moment," he added.
He told how other countries had cut fuel duty by more than the UK and asked "why the hell are we not doing it here?" Mr Cox called for a cut of at least 20p, and warned that protests will continue if not.Sharon Downs, 41, a saddle-fitter from Pontypridd, drives her horse box across the Prince of Wales Bridge (PA)
He said: "There is an appetite (for such protest). If the government don't actually deliver on this, I think there's going to be some serious escalation of protests."
Gwent Police said protests are expected to last until 7pm on Monday. The Prince of Wales Bridge has been blocked after protesters gathered on the M4 at Magor services, junction 23A eastbound, and junction 20 of the M4 westbound.Drivers at Shifnal Motorway Services Telford before the M54 protest near Telford Shropshire (SWNS)
Ch Supt Tom Harding said he would encourage drivers to reconsider their journey, consider working from home and avoid the area where possible. Bristol Airport advised travellers to allow extra time for their journeys.
In a tweet, the airport said: "Please note that there is a planned fuel protest to block the River Severn Bridge crossings this Monday July 4 from 8.30am.Drivers gather in the car park of Colchester United Football Club ahead of another blockade on the A12 (SWNS)
"The protest will likely affect the M5, M4 and the two crossings to Wales. Please allow extra time if travelling to or from the airport." Essex Police Ch Insp Anna Granger said her officers "are experienced at dealing with incidents which cause significant disruption".
She said: "We will be monitoring the situation closely and have a policing operation in place to limit disruption."Queues form on the A12 near Kelvedon (SWNS)
Gloucestershire Police said protests are likely to affect the A48, causing travel disruption in the Gloucester and Forest of Dean areas.
A government spokesperson said: "While we respect the right to protest, people's day-to-day lives should not be disrupted, especially on busy motorways where lives are put at risk and resulting traffic delays will only add to fuel use.
"The new Public Order Bill will make it a criminal offence to glue yourself to a dangerous motorway, which sees police spending hours trying to safely remove people."
Read MoreIndia bus crash: Sixteen dead including school children as vehicle falls off cliff
Read MoreAntique vampire-slaying kit containing crucifixes and holy water sells at auction for GBP13,000