Police arrest 13 fuel protesters after demonstrations bring motorways to a standstill across UK
A total of 13 people were arrested for driving at "excessively slow speeds" today as protests over fuel prices caused gridlock across the country. Protesters travelled in small groups and slowed down traffic by blocking lanes on and around the Prince of Wales Bridge on the M4, a main route between England and Wales. A total of 12 protesters arrested for breaching the legal notice issued by the police prior to the protest by driving at under 30 mph for "a prolonged amount of time".
Gwent Police chief superintendent Tom Harding, said: "The right to protest under UK law must be balanced with the rights of the wider community who may be affected. By implementing restrictions on the moving protest, we aimed to protect the public and local communities. "Along with partners, we identified that failing to comply with the legal notice requirements would lead to emergency and critical services being restricted therefore posing a risk to local communities, action was taken when I deemed these risks existed."
A woman is arrested during the M4 protest over fuel prices (Photo: Bronwen Weatherby/PA Wire)
A man was also arrested after taking part in a fuel protest on the A38 near Plymouth after Devon and Cornwall police reported some protesting drivers using 'excessively slow speeds', which caused cars to brake suddenly. Among those gathering at a protest at Magor services, near Caldicot, was Vicky Stamper.
The former HGV driver, from Cwmbran, Wales said she and her partner Darren had to give up jobs in Bristol because they could no longer afford the fuel. She 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."
Mobile welder Richard Dite, 44, from Maesteg, South Wales, said it is costing him hundreds of pounds in fuel to get to work every week due to price hikes. "It's costing me GBP300 a week before I even get to work and earn anything," he said. "My only option soon will be to put the welding gear in the shed and call it a day, maybe go on the dole."
Motorists also faced delays on the M180 in Lincolnshire, on the M5 motorway in Devon, M32,at Bristol, A12 in Essex. There was also traffic chaos on the A48 in Gloucestershire, the M62 in West Yorkshire, in Stoke-on-Trent on the A50, the M6 and M54 in the Midlands Protesters also targeted main roads in parts of Scotland, with two tractors causing long tailbacks on the A92 heading north into Aberdeen on Monday.
Demonstrations were also held at the Kessock Bridge in Inverness.
Police escort vehicles along the M4 motorway during the morning rush hour as a protest was held on the motorway. (Photo: Rod Minchin/PA Wire)
Police Scotland said it was aware of protests across Scotland and urged motorists to be careful. Three men were also spotted playing football on the M4 after rolling roadblocks brought it to a standstill this morning. The trio were captured on video having a kickabout on an empty section of motorway - after the M4 was closed in both directions around 8.30am - while traffic was gridlocked on the other side of the road.
FairFuelUK founder Howard Cox said his organisation is not involved in the action but he is "fully supportive" of the demonstrations so long as they are conducted legally.
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He said: "I totally support their protest because people have reached the end of their tethers at the moment."
The protests come after Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he will carefully consider calls for a "more substantial" fuel duty decrease after the 5p-per-litre reduction implemented in March failed to halt price rises.
The Government said that while it understands that 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".