Roads across the country could see congestion as protesters demand a fuel tax cut
Roads in parts of the country could face congestion on Monday (July 4) as protesters spring into action demanding a cut in fuel taxes.
According to Howard Cox, founder of FairFuelUK, the protests will mainly target three-lane motorways and will see slowdowns on two lanes, leaving the fast lane clear.
Mr Cox said he “fully supported” the demonstrations as long as they were conducted legally, adding that “people have reached the end of their rope”.
He said other countries had cut fuel taxes by more than the UK and asked: “Why the hell aren’t we doing this here?”
He has called for a cut of at least 20p and warned that otherwise the protests will continue.
He added: “There is an appetite (for a protest like this). If the government does not actually comply with this, I believe there will be a serious escalation of the protests.”
Where should protests take place?
Protesters are expected to block the Prince of Wales Bridge between England and Wales, while disruption is also possible in Essex and Gloucestershire.
The protests are said to have been organized through social media under the Fuel Price Stand Against Tax banner.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he would carefully consider calls for a more “substantial” fuel tax cut after the 5p a liter cut introduced in March failed to halt price hikes.
Figures from Experian, a data company, show that the average price of a liter of petrol at UK petrol stations hit a new high of 191.4p on Thursday, while diesel rose to 199.1p.
The government said that while it understands that people are struggling with rising prices and have a right to protest, “people’s daily lives should not be disrupted” and warned that traffic delays “will only increase fuel consumption”.
A government spokesman said: “While we respect the right to protest, people’s daily lives should not be disrupted, particularly on busy motorways where lives are at risk and the resulting traffic delays only increase fuel consumption.
“The new Public Order Act makes it a criminal offense to get stuck on a dangerous highway where police spend hours removing people safely.”
Gwent Police said protests are expected to take place on the road network between 7am and 7pm on Monday 4 July.
They said organizers had announced intentions to block Prince of Wales Bridge, with the protest starting on the M4 at the Magor services, eastbound Junction 23A and westbound M4 Junction 20.
Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said he would encourage drivers to reconsider their journey, work from home and avoid the area if possible.
Bristol Airport advised travelers to allow extra time for their journey.
In a tweet, the airport said: “Please note there is a fuel protest to block the River Severn Bridge crossings this Monday 4 July from 8.30am.
“The protest will likely affect the M5, M4 and the two crossings into Wales. Please allow extra time if traveling to or from the airport.”
Essex Police Chief Inspector Anna Granger said her officers were “experienced in dealing with incidents that cause significant disruption”.
She said: “We will be closely monitoring the situation and establishing a police operation to limit disruption.”
Gloucestershire Police warned the protests were likely to affect the A48 and disrupt travel in the Gloucester and Forest of Dean areas.
Where have protests been reported?
Protesters have abandoned the M4 Magor services near Caldicot, South Wales, crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge which crosses the River Severn into England.
A convoy of around 20 vehicles left the services. Before leaving, they were told by police not to stop and not to drive slower than 30 miles per hour.
Police officers plan to direct protesters off the highway on either side of the bridge. Some protesters have said they will meet in the middle and block the highway.
For several minutes both lanes of the M4 approaching the M4 Prince of Wales Severn Bridge junction were brought to a standstill by slow protests traveling east and west.
Two police motorcyclists drove in front of four vehicles traveling at around 30mph from the Bristol area towards South Wales. A marked police squad car stood behind the protesters, followed by dozens of queued motorists.
A larger convoy of protesters drove across the Severn Junction towards England from Wales, followed by a major traffic jam.
Meanwhile, Devon and Cornwall Police tweeted: “We are aware that a slow-moving northbound protest from Exeter Services started at 7.10am.
“This is currently about a dozen vehicles in size and is escorted by police vehicles to ensure the safety of all road users.”
Avon and Somerset Police said in a tweet: “A slow moving rolling roadblock is underway on the M4.
“A number of vehicles will be heading east across the Prince of Wales Bridge and expected to exit the M4 at J22 (Pilning).
“There they plan to meet up again west towards Wales. A similar protest from the English side is also expected.”