Taxi drivers are understandably frustrated that environmental protesters are stopping them working – especially those who have already forked out on new electric cabs.
Just Stop Oil campaigners have frequently targeted London’s busy streets and been shown on the news gluing their hands to roads to block traffic, causing huge congestion in and around the capital as they call for the government to stop all new gas and oil licences and permissions.
The protests – which bring major roads to a standstill – have led to confrontations between the environmental campaigners and motorists whose lives and livelihoods are being affected by the disruptions.
With recent Department for Transport figures showing that 10 per cent of black cabs in the capital are now electric, campaigners from Just Stop Oil say these “non-violent actions are necessary to get their demands across”.
While their protests have continued, there have been reports of women in labour being delayed in getting to hospital, parents seeking medical help for sick children, as well as drivers with goods to deliver and businesses supplying services and trades.
But also caught up in the gridlock are drivers of electric vehicles – including taxi drivers – who are being affected despite doing ‘the right thing’ by choosing greener vehicles the campaigners are calling for.
Among those recently affected was a public hire taxi driver in London who had just spent tens of thousands of pounds on a new zero-emissions capable black cab.
The exchange between the taxi driver and the protesters was recorded on mobile phones and clips of it were shared by the Daily Mail, in which the driver asks: “How do I pay my bills? I’ve got one of these, an electric taxi. I paid £70,000 for that. I’m doing my bit, so why do you stop me?”
As part of the protests, campaigners have also thrown soup over a Van Gogh painting and sprayed graffiti on luxury car and watch showrooms.
Last month alone, police had arrested more than 650 people following demonstrations which led to roads being blocked. In some cases, motorists who feel they are being unfairly targeted and who have become fed up with the disruption, have removed protestors from the road themselves, something police are warning them not to do in future.
With the campaigners vowing to continue their protests to get their message heard, the police will remain alert and aim to respond quickly to future demonstrations to keep disruption to a minimum, preventing “repeated efforts to cause damage to businesses and to unreasonably disrupt the lives of ordinary Londoners by blocking roads”.
A spokesman for the police said: “We fully support peaceful protest and will always try to work with organisers so that protests can go ahead safely, but the public rightly expect us to respond swiftly and effectively where protest crosses the line into criminality.
“Thanks to the dynamic and effective response of the dedicated men and women who were on duty over the past two days, we have identified offenders, prevented further incidents of criminal damage and kept disruption in central London to a minimum.”
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