Twelve arrested during M4 fuel price protest for driving ‘too slow’

An empty Prince of Wales Bridge, which runs between England and Wales, during the morning rush hour as drivers hold a go-slow protest on the M4. Credit: PA

Police have arrested protesters amid a nationwide effort to disrupt key roads in a demonstration over high fuel prices.

Twelve protesters have been detained after rolling roadblocks brought parts of the M4 between Bristol and south Wales to a standstill.

According to Gwent Police, the drivers were arrested for driving slower than the agreed 30mph speed limit.

The eastbound carriageway of the Prince of Wales Severn bridge, used by several commuters to travel between England and Wales, was closed due to the demonstration.

However, police managed to stop the rolling protest on the westbound carriageway before the crossing.

Some motorists in Wales came out of their cars and some were spotted playing football, even though is illegal to do so.

Gwent Police said organisers have indicated an intention to block the bridge.

Among those gathering at Magor services, near Caldicot, was Vicky Stamper, 41. The former HGV driver, from Cwmbran, said she and her partner Darren had to leave jobs in Bristol because they could not afford the fuel any longer. She said: “It was costing us £380 a week just to get to and from work."

Protesters clog up the M180 in Lincolnshire

On the M180 to Immingham, Lincolnshire, van drivers delayed commuters by moving at just 15mph.

Police reported that protests on the M5 from Devon to Bristol and M54, in Shropshire, had ended after just a few hours.

There were also protests on the A12 in Essex and the A64 in the York area. Campaigners in West Yorkshire, however, were not able to start after police officers laid a stinger down outside their meeting point, the Ferrybridge services.

More on the traffic protests near you:

The protests are understood to be organised via social media under the banner Fuel Price Stand Against Tax.

According to FairFuelUK founder Howard Cox, the demonstrations are targeting mainly three-lane motorways and see slow-downs on two lanes, leaving the fast lane free,

While he said his organisation is not involved in the action, he is “fully supportive” of the demonstrations so long as they are conducted legally.

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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.

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”.

Police escort vehicles along the M4 motorway during the morning rush hour as drivers hold a go-slow protest on the M4.

Mr Cox said: “I totally support their protest because people have reached the end of their tethers at the moment.”

He said other countries had cut fuel duty by more than the UK and asked: “Why the hell are we not doing it here?”

Gwent Police Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said he would encourage drivers to reconsider their journey, consider working from home and avoid the area where possible.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to announce a larger cut in fuel duty Credit: PA

Meanwhile, Bristol Airport advised travellers to allow extra time for their journeys.

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.”