Fuel price protesters block motorways across parts of England and south Wales
Slow-moving convoys of protesters campaigning against high fuel prices have forced motorways and main roads to grind to a halt with demonstrators vowing to continue with direct action until the government tackles the crisis.
Hundreds of lorries, vans, cars and tractors across England, Wales and Scotland created rolling road blocks on Monday, causing delays for thousands of road-users.
Twelve people were arrested on suspicion of public order offences after a protest closed the Prince of Wales bridge, which carries the M4 across the River Severn. A kickabout took place on an empty M4 carriageway.
A man was also arrested in Devon. In other places police also said they would take action against protesters who had put fellow road users in danger or had committed other offences such as using mobile phones while driving.
Motorways in the Bristol area, Devon, Cornwall, south Wales, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire were among those affected. Two tractors caused long tailbacks into Aberdeen by driving slowly side by side along the A92 northbound.
West Yorkshire police used a “stinger” spiked mat at the Ferrybridge services on the M62 to stop drivers from joining the protest and police were also called to a protest at a petrol station in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.
Protester Marcin Gonera, 42, a lorry driver and business owner from Bristol, said the plan was to keep protesting until change came about. “We’re protesting because this affects everyone. When the fuel prices go up, the price of everything goes up.”
Vicky Stamper, 41, from Cwmbran, south Wales, said she and her partner, Darren, had been forced to quit jobs in Bristol because they could not afford the commute.
She said: “It was costing us £380 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.”
Talking about the disruption the protest would cause to drivers, Stamper added: “We’re doing this for us and for them.” Asked what she would ask Boris Johnson to do, she said: “Resign.”
Sharon Downs, 46, a saddle fitter from Pontypridd, south Wales, said: “We need more protests and we need more people to join in so our voices are heard, and the government know we won’t stand for it any more.”
The protest has been organised via social media under the banner Fuel Price Stand Against Tax.
Police in Gwent, south Wales, had issued a legal notice under section 12 of the Public Order Act 1986 prohibiting the Prince of Wales bridge from being blocked and protesters from driving under 30 mph. When this allegedly happened, they stepped in and made 12 arrests.
Some protesters said they would think about other targets in future demonstrations, such as blocking routes into London.
Mobile welder Richard Dite, 44, from Maesteg, south Wales, said: “It’s costing me £300 a week before I even get to work and earn anything. My only option soon will be to put the welding gear in the shed and call it a day, maybe go on the dole. Face it, at this rate I’ll be on more that way.”
A UK 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.”