Man behind fuel protest that would block UK motorways says he has no choice
Fuel prices: Cost to fill average family car to hit £100
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The Severn Bridge and Prince of Wales Bridge – which take the M48 and M4 respectively over River Severn and into Wales – are set to be blocked by demonstrators from 7am to 7pm on Monday July 4. It’s a move branded “extremely dangerous” and one it is feared will cause traffic chaos as each bridge carries 65,000 vehicles a day, including those belonging emergency services.
But Ashley Fowler, 24, says his car club can no longer meet due to the rising fuel costs and feel they have no choice but to protest against them.
Speaking to Wales Online today, the delivery driver said: “We’re all car enthusiasts and we have all been worried about fuel prices and when I saw the post about blocking the bridges we began talking about it. Then people started asking me to make an event so we could update each other.
“I made the event because I run a car club in Cardiff which I started on social media during the pandemic lockdowns to help people’s mental health. When we can we go out to car parks and just meet up and have a chat but during the pandemic we weren’t able to do it so I made the group.
“Now we can’t meet up so much again because of the cost of fuel. I know some of them can’t drive so much because they need to feed their kids. It’s serious. People are getting really depressed about it. One of the boys in the group has actually sold his car due to fuel price rises.”
Due to the cost of living crisis, Ashley has had to leave his flat and move back in with his mother in Cardiff.
A typical family car, in some places, now costs £100 to fill up at a time when bills and food prices are also skyrocketing. Almost 50% of what’s charged for petrol and diesel is tax.
Ashley admitted he and his friends have faced a backlash for his plans.
He said: “There has been some criticism too – people are going to have an opinion on whatever we do. If we were standing outside Westminster people would kick off. I think if people are in the same boat as each other they’ll support. Obviously a lot of people are affected by this,” the delivery driver continued.
“I’ve had a lot of people say: ‘Don’t do it because of people going to work.’ We are talking about plans for some people to be able to go over the bridge.
“I saw a breakdown of the petrol figure and the percentages last week and we’re basically doing this to pay back government debt and I don’t think people realise it.”
Ashley says he has also received a great deal of support from strangers on social media.
But National Highways has warned the group it is “extremely dangerous” to block two motorways.
John Ingram, National Highways’ network planner for resilience, said: “We respect people’s right to protest. However protesting on the strategic road network is extremely dangerous not just for the protesters but for people using the roads.”
A spokesman for the body added: “Along with the police and other partners we’ll be working hard to limit the effects of the protests on the Severn bridges. We’ll be doing all we can to keep people up to date with the latest traffic information and to keep drivers on the move.”
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