Road chaos as hauliers protest

A CONVOY of 800 articulated lorries invaded Park Lane in central London yesterday in a mass protest over fuel prices and road tax. Thousands of motorists were delayed in the latest protest by the haulage industry against Gordon Brown's "anti-truck" Budget announcements which some lorry owners believe will drive them out of business.

Chris Wright, director of the Road Haulage Association, said it was a "show of strength" rather than an attempt to disrupt traffic. In truth it was a very British demonstration compared with the lorry drivers' blockades in France. "We drove into London after the main part of the rush hour and we drove out before it started in the evening," said Mr Wright. "This was not a blockade."

Last week a key forum, involving the industry and government, failed to resolve the problem.

Disgruntled hauliers at yesterday's protest said they were now faced with the highest fuel tax in Europe. Peter Little, managing director of Meeks of Luton, Bedfordshire, said: "With the last Budget my fuel bill went up by pounds 11,000. I can get a bit back from customers, but if they say `no' I'm out."

The hauliers heard speeches in Hyde Park then walked to Downing Street to present letters to the Prime Minister, his deputy, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Helen Liddell, Transport minister.

"They claim we have not presented them with our arguments," said Mr Wright. "That is not true. The letters will reiterate the facts and figures we have already presented to them." The drivers walked from Downing Street to the House of Commons to lobby their MPs.

An AA spokesman said many who commute by car into London had gone on holiday since the schools broke up last week, reducing the normal traffic flow. "But thousands of motorists had a far slower journey into work," he added. "Lorry drivers should remember that motorists also suffer from high fuel duty. Effectively they are striking out at people in the same situation as themselves. Drivers and truckers should be four-square behind the same campaign. They risk alienating people trying to get to work."

One driver, Michael Taylor-Milton, of Basingstoke, Hampshire, said: "We are here in protest about tax and fuel prices. We cannot compete with Europe. They are coming in here paying 45p a litre for fuel and we are paying double. They are taking all the work."

Graham Plumb, also from Basingstoke, said European trucks were not paying road tax or buying fuel over here so they were using our roads for nothing. "When we go abroad we have to pay road tax. Our fuel is double and our road tax is 12 times more. That is unfair."

Alan Chapman, of Alan Chapman Haulage, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, said that his fuel costs were 20 per cent up on last year. "It is crippling me. I cannot afford to carry on like this. The fuel is so expensive."

Some drivers argued for a more militant approach. Mark Screeves, from Alcester in Warwickshire, said: "We should have blocked the roads months ago. We should be more like the French."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'