Over the past two weeks we have been working with the organiser of the M4 ‘stand up to fuel prices’ protest on how these could be conducted safely.
Following these discussions, last week, the organisers of the planned protest were given a legal notice.
This notice prohibited the Prince of Wales bridge from being blocked and prohibited protestors from driving under 30 mph.
Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said:
“Over the last two weeks, we have been working jointly with a number of partners to ensure that emergency and critical services could continue and to prevent serious disruption to both road users and local communities.”
The moving protest started at around 7.00am this morning, at 8.30am four people were arrested with another eight people arrested at around 10.45am.
All twelve people were arrested for breaching the legal notice by driving at under 30 mph for a prolonged amount of time.
Chief Superintendent Tom Harding went on to say:
“The right to protest under UK law must be balanced with the rights of the wider community who may be affected.
“By implementing restrictions on the moving protest, we aimed to protect the public and local communities.
“Along with partners, we identified that failing to comply with the legal notice requirements would lead to emergency and critical services being restricted therefore posing a risk to local communities, action was taken when I deemed these risks existed.
“We are aware of other driving offences, not connected to the protest, such as the use of a mobile phone whilst driving. These offences will be dealt with appropriately.
“I would like to thank the partners involved, including, the Welsh Ambulance Service, the National Health Service, Welsh Blood Service, National Highways, Traffic Wales, Avon and Somerset Police and South Wales Police, for supporting us to maintain public safety during this morning’s protest.
Having led this operation for a number of forces, I would like to thank all officers and staff involved in the protest today. They have shown professionalism, whilst working in a challenging and potentially dangerous environment.
“Finally, thank you to the public for their patience and understanding.”