Motorists face further misery as convoys paralyse London

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The Independent Online

Fuel price protesters were tonight adding to motorists' misery and continuing a series of go-slow convoys around much of the UK today.

Fuel price protesters were tonight adding to motorists' misery and continuing a series of go-slow convoys around much of the UK today.

Drivers already facing chronic petrol shortages were still being warned to stay out of London as up to 60 lorries remained stopped at Hyde Park.

But roads normally gridlocked with rush-hour traffic were often quiet as drivers either used public transport or took the day off.

An RAC spokeswoman said convoys were continuing on a series of motorways and major routes up and down the country.

"It is going to be chaos this evening in the centre of London and people would do well do avoid it," she said.

"We have already had reports of buses getting stuck because of the lorries. But on the roads without convoys it is very peaceful - just like a Sunday."

The rolling roadblocks were continuing tonight on the M1 northbound near Leicester, and the M6 in Lancashire.

And on the M6 in the West Midlands northbound and southbound a further convoy of slow moving vehicles halted traffic.

Problems were also continuing on the A14 in Cambridge and the A17 in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

One police force warned that drivers in "go-slow" protests could face prosecution.

Hampshire Police said it was considering whether offences had been committed during two convoy protests which brought traffic to a virtual standstill.

More than 40 tractors took part in a protest on the A31 on the Dorset-Hampshire border, led by a steam engine with a top speed of 7mph, while lorries on the A303 and M3 travelled at about 15mph.

West Yorkshire police also warned protesters they would take "positive action" as slow-moving vehicles continued to cause chaos on the M1 and M62 near Leeds.

In Aberdeen, tractors and heavy goods vehicles caused disruption in Union Street and Market Street in the city centre.

Demonstrators also headed into the centre of Inverness, blocking the A82 northbound and A582 eastbound.

Meanwhile truckers staged a protest in the centre of Belfast today - the first in Northern Ireland over fuel - and circled City Hall.

Paul Reid, of Ballyclare, Co Antrim, said: "We do not want the sort of upset which has been happening in England, but we want to give encouragement to those who are."

The London convoy was prevented by police from reaching Parliament Square and was stopped on the corner of Park Lane and Hyde Park.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Trotter, of the Metropolitan police, said an exclusion zone for lorries had been set up around central London.

No further convoys were expected to head into London today and earlier ones on the A2 and A40 had cleared by this afternoon, a Scotland Yard spokeswoman added.

Earlier in the day, protests hit the M40 Northbound in Oxfordshire, tractor drivers caused long delays in Dorset and on the M5 northbound in Devon lorries crawled along all three lanes at 5mph.

A convoy of lorries made their way through Cardiff city centre beeping horns while pedestrians carried on as normal and cars waited for them to pass.

About 25 truckers circled the Welsh Assembly headquarters in Cardiff Bay, blaring their horns.

One of the truckers said: "It's about time someone did something to give this Government a kick."

The trucks were lined up in front of the Assembly building while politicians sat in committee meetings inside the building looking out on to the protest.

In Tyne and Wear on the A1 northbound, a "rolling roadblock" of 30 lorries was causing long delays.

In Greater Manchester, a convoy of protesting taxi drivers caused widespread delays around the airport and the M56 eastbound.

Police said the protests had been amicable so far and seemed to have the support of much of the public - except those directly affected by it.

Lorry driver Stephen Micalles, from Harlesden in north London, said his convoy had received support from members of the public.

"People in Holland Park were coming out of their homes and giving us a thumbs up - but it is a shame car drivers could not show support."