Lorries to jam nine cities

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MOTORISTS ARE facing traffic chaos today with lorry drivers preparing to jam nine cities and towns in their continuing protest against rising fuel and road taxes.

Hauliers were expected to use their vehicles to block roads in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle upon Tyne, Middlesbrough, Truro, Exeter and Plymouth.

In Park Lane, London, the site of a 1,500-strong demonstration last month, the hauliers were expected to be joined by pig farmers protesting against the Government's agriculture policies. London taxi drivers, upset at diesel prices, were also due to join the rally.

The latest direct action by truckers has been organised by the campaign group Transaction. The group's leader, Frank Stears, said he was going ahead with today's protest after the Government had failed to placate it over increases in lorry road tax and diesel fuel prices imposed in the Budget.

Mr Stears says the higher costs are making it difficult for UK firms to compete with their rivals on the Continent.

He said: "If they don't help out now and do something quickly, then within two to three years 50 per cent of the lorries on the roads in Great Britain will be either foreign-owned or foreign-registered."

The protest is being backed by the Road Haulage Association, but the more moderate Freight Transport Association has urged its members not to take part in demonstrations.

The lorry drivers' cause will also receive the backing of the railway industry. The Railway Forum will attack the policy of increasing duty on diesel.

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