Fuel protests: 'Go-slow' drivers arrested as motorways blocked on day of action

·6 min read

Watch: Fuel protesters bring M4 to standstill with rolling road blocks

Police arrested a dozen drivers who were protesting against soaring fuel costs for driving too slow on a motorway on Monday.

Fuel protests took place across the UK on Monday as drivers called for a cut in fuel duty, gridlocking motorways and major A-routes with a series of rolling go-slow roadblocks.

Police had warned of "serious disruption throughout the day" as demonstrators vented their anger at rising petrol and diesel prices amid a cost of living crisis. Avon and Somerset police said the protests had finished by 3.20pm.

Demonstrators blocked the Prince of Wales Bridge along the M4 crossing between England and Wales and a number of other motorways on Monday morning.

Police said 12 protesters were arrested on the M4 for driving under 30mph.

Read more: Fuel protests - which motorways and roads are disrupted today?

YORK, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Protesters hold up signs as they slow the traffic down on the A64 on July 04, 2022 in York, England. Prices for petrol and diesel have risen steadily this year as the price of oil has climbed, due to post-pandemic demand and sanctions against Russia, one of the world's largest oil exporters. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
Protesters hold up signs as they slow the traffic down on the A64 in York. (Getty Images)
YORK, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Protesters slow the traffic down on the A64 on July 04, 2022 in York, England. Prices for petrol and diesel have risen steadily this year as the price of oil has climbed, due to post-pandemic demand and sanctions against Russia, one of the world's largest oil exporters. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
Protesters slow the traffic down on the A64 in York on Monday. (Getty Images)

There were go-slow road blocks along the M4 in South Wales and Somerset, and on stretches of the M5 from Devon to Bristol.

There were also protests on the A38 in Devon and at a Tesco petrol station in Shepton Mallet in Somerset.

Demonstrations also took place on the M54 in Shropshire, near the Ferrybridge services in West Yorkshire, on the A64 in the York area, on the M180 near Scunthorpe, and on the A12 in Essex.

The protests, which started at around 7am, are understood to have been organised via social media under the banner Fuel Price Stand Against Tax.

They come as the latest figures from Experian show the average price of petrol reached a new high of 191.5p per litre on Sunday, while the average price of diesel was 199.0p per litre.

Rolling protests started simultaneously on the M4 from Magor services in South Wales and the junction 20 Almondsbury interchange near Bristol, with police telling demonstrators they could not stop and must drive no slower than 30mph.

Read more: How bad are the UK's petrol prices compared to the EU?

Police escorted two blockades as they crossed the River Severn but prevented them from making the return journey.

No traffic was able to cross the M4 Prince of Wales Bridge in either direction for more than an hour because of the demonstration.

Gwent Police Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said a total of 12 people were arrested during the protest on the M4.

Police escort vehicles along the M4 motorway during the morning rush hour as drivers hold a go-slow protest on the M4. Police have warned of
Police escort vehicles along the M4 motorway as drivers hold a go-slow protest on the M4. (PA)
Sharon Downs, 41, a saddle-fitter from Pontypridd, drives her horse box across the Prince of Wales Bridge, which runs between England and Wales, during a go-slow protest on the M4. Police have warned of
Sharon Downs, a saddle-fitter from Pontypridd, drives her horse box across the Prince of Wales Bridge, which runs between England and Wales, during a go-slow protest on the M4. (PA)

All were arrested for breaching the legal notice issued by the police prior to the protest by driving at under 30mph for “a prolonged amount of time”.

Chief Superintendent 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.

“We are aware of other driving offences, not connected to the protest, such as the use of a mobile phone whilst driving. These offences will be dealt with appropriately.”

The force later said the Prince of Wales Bridge was reopened in both directions just before midday.

Devon and Cornwall Police said a protest on the M5 had ended but there had been other incidents on the A38, where one driver had been arrested on suspicion of driving "at a dangerously low speed”.

Read more: UK petrol stations face urgent review over fuel duty cut

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. Police have warned of
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. (PA)
A near-empty Prince of Wales Bridge, which runs between England and Wales, as seen from the cab of a vehicle taking part in a go-slow protest on the M4. Police have warned of
Protesters have organised a go-slow demonstration on the Prince of Wales Bridge on Monday. (PA)
A near-empty Prince of Wales Bridge, which runs between England and Wales, as seen from the cab of a vehicle taking part in a go-slow protest on the M4. Police have warned of
A near-empty Prince of Wales Bridge, which runs between England and Wales, as seen from the cab of a vehicle taking part in a go-slow protest against fuel prices on the M4 on Monday. (PA)
Police escort vehicles along the M4 motorway during the morning rush hour as drivers hold a go-slow protest on the M4. Police have warned of
Police escort vehicles along the M4 motorway during the morning rush hour as drivers hold a go-slow protest on the M4. (PA)
Police escort vehicles across the 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. Police have warned of
Police escort vehicles across the Prince of Wales Bridge on Monday during fuel prices protests. (PA)

Mobile welder Richard Dite, 44, from Maesteg, South Wales, said it is costing him more than £300 in fuel to get to work every week due to price hikes.

“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.”

He was joined at Magor Service Station by about a dozen or more other people who drove across the Prince of Wales Bridge.

Former HGV driver Vicky Stamper, 41, from Cwmbran, said she and her partner Darren had to leave jobs in Bristol because they could no longer afford the fuel to commute.

Stamper said: “We had to leave those jobs because it was costing us £380 a week just to get to and from work.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JULY 04: A protester holds a sign on the roundabout at Ferrybridge services after the Police close the exit junction on July 04, 2022 in Leeds, England. Prices for petrol and diesel have risen steadily this year as the price of oil has climbed, due to post-pandemic demand and sanctions against Russia, one of the world's largest oil exporters. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
A protester holds a sign on the roundabout at Ferrybridge services after police close the exit junction on Monday in Leeds. (Getty Images)
Vehicles on a near-empty M4 motorway, as seen from the cab of a vehicle taking part in a go-slow protest. Police have warned of
Vehicles on a near-empty M4 motorway, as seen from the cab of a vehicle taking part in a go-slow protest. (PA)

“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.”

Asked about the disruption the protest would cause to drivers on the M4, Stamper said: “We’re doing this for us and for them. If they want to have a moan, they should join us instead.”

Martin Crowley, 48, from Cardiff, a self-employed exotic animal courier, said fuel prices are damaging his livelihood.

He said: “Fuel cost me £280 over two days last week. It’s unbelievable.

“You can hardly make a living any more.”

Read more: Drivers ‘have a right to know’ why fuel prices keep rising

File photo dated 01/09/21 of an E10 petrol pump at a petrol station. The Prime Minister plans to
Rising fuel prices have led to protests on Britain's motorways on Monday. (PA)
LEEDS, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Protesters take photos as the police block off the exit of Ferrybridge service station with a stinger on July 04, 2022 in Leeds, England. Prices for petrol and diesel have risen steadily this year as the price of oil has climbed, due to post-pandemic demand and sanctions against Russia, one of the world's largest oil exporters. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
Protesters take photos as police block off the exit of Ferrybridge service station in Leeds with a stinger on Monday. (Getty Images)

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.

FairFuelUK founder Howard Cox said that while his organisation is not involved in the action, he was “fully supportive” of the demonstrations as long as they were conducted legally.

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

He called for a cut of at least 20p, and warned that protests will continue if not.

The AA claimed that petrol wholesale costs ended last week 10p down on the record highs of early June.

The organisation’s fuel price spokesman, Luke Bosdet, said: “It is an outrage, plain and simple, that the fuel trade could be slashing petrol prices as the nation heads towards the holiday season, but isn’t.”

Watch: Fuel protests disrupt traffic on M4 motorway