Britons shun beaches to go shopping

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THOUSANDS OF motorists are heading for shopping centres rather than beaches over Easter, after weather forecasters said temperatures would not be as high as they had earlier predicted. Although London and parts of Scotland saw temperatures of 18C yesterday, much of the country was overcast with showers.

Mike Needham, national forecaster at the Meteorological Office, said: "There has been sunshine around but it is cloudy in a lot of places and cooler than yesterday."

The best Good Friday sunshine was in Scotland where skiers at Aviemore enjoyed temperatures of almost 19C. In contrast, the South-west had showers and temperatures of only 10-12C.

Forecasters had earlier predicted temperatures of up to 22C for tomorrow and Bank Holiday Monday, but the Met Office yesterday said that cloud would spread across the country today and bring rainfall to many regions. Mr Needham said the highest temperatures for the rest of the weekend were likely to be below 18C.

Nick Spears, of AA Roadwatch, said motorways were busy yesterday with much of the heaviest traffic around shopping centres. Some of the worst congestion was on the M25 in Essex, near the Lakeside shopping centre in Thurrock.

Mr Spears said: "We've had some heavy holiday traffic, such as on the M4 heading west, and quite a few caravans on the A12 heading towards the Essex coast, but nothing has been too bad."

A convoy of lorries is expected to cause congestion today as freight drivers stage a protest against increases in fuel and road tax announced in last month's Budget. The demonstration is expected to start at 9.30am at Harwich with truckers planning to hold up traffic on the A120, the A12, parts of the M25 and then the M11. The convoy is planning to turn around at junction 8 of the M11 near Stansted before returning to Harwich. Police say the protest will last for around five hours.