Chaos looms in lorry protest

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A PROTEST by truck drivers threatens to create traffic chaos today with a thousand lorries descending on London in the latest demonstration over rising fuel costs.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA), which will also be lobbying MPs, says its protest follows the failure of a meeting last week in a government- set-up forum to discuss the truckers' unhappiness with fuel price rises announced in the Budget.

"We apologise to the public for the disruption that will be caused but the Government are doing nothing and we have to publicise our case," said the RHA's Steve Williams. "UK jobs are at risk and we feel we must make a stand."

Demonstrations - in London and around the country - were organised by the truckers' protest group Transaction yesterday. One involved a convoy of slow-moving lorries that travelled around Britain's busiest road - the M25 orbital route around London.

In tomorrow's protest, lorries will gather at M25 service stations and at other motorway service areas before arriving in central London at about mid-morning.

The London Chamber of Commerce called the planned protest "regrettable. It is not necessary to drive 1,000 lorries into the centre of the capital in order to lobby MPs. This action can only lead to less public support for their cause."

Meanwhile roads to the coasts were choked with traffic on one of the hottest days of the year. The RAC said there had been a "mad rush" to the coasts because of the hot weather. "It's been a run to the sun," a spokesman added.

The A12 and A23 were very busy while an accident at junction 16 of the M25 anti-clockwise at about 10am caused long tailbacks. In the afternoon a crash on the A165 at Barmston, 10 miles from Bridlington, brought about severe delays.

One in 20 holiday coaches stopped in a massive national safety blitz were so dangerous that they were immediately ordered off the road, police revealed.

Serious defects to steering, tyres and brakes, or fuel and oil leaks, were found on 77 of the vehicles examined yesterday and 155 vehicles were found to have less severe problems.

Forty police forces in England, Scotland and Wales took part in Operation Tourist, with Department of Transport inspectors checking a total of 1,607 coaches and buses.