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Busy Saturday for motorists in Easter getaway, but traffic is ‘flowing’

Traffic, pictured on Good Friday, has been less busy on Easter Saturday and is said to be moving well (Jacob King/PA)
Traffic, pictured on Good Friday, has been less busy on Easter Saturday and is said to be moving well (Jacob King/PA)

Motorists have faced a busy Easter Saturday, but traffic is said to be flowing as people make their getaways for the bank holiday weekend.

There have been some delays on the roads but conditions are less congested than Good Friday, according to the AA.

The motoring organisation has predicted a total of 27.6 million journeys will be made over a busier than usual Easter weekend as people enjoy the good weather, embark on staycations and avoid train travel due to engineering works.

A crash caused delays of up to 40 minutes on part of the M6 earlier on Saturday, according to AA President Edmund King, who said the M25 has also been “incredibly slow on both the west side around Heathrow and east side near Dartford”.

He added that routes to the South West were not as busy as Good Friday, but there have been some delays on the M4 and M5 near Bristol.

He said: “Today traffic has been busy but less congested than Good Friday.

“I have driven 176 miles in three and a half hours from Hertfordshire to Old Trafford and charged the car on the way.

“Overall, the picture is busy but generally the traffic is flowing.”

A fire at an industrial building “involving possible pyrotechnics and fireworks” shut part of the M4 at Westbrook, Newbury, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said.

There were reports of a fire shortly before 2pm but no casualties had been reported by Saturday evening.

People have been urged to stay away from the area while emergency services deal with the incident but junctions 13 and 14 of the M4 have reopened.

Kent County Council said Operation Brock had been “scaled back to ‘free-flow’, the lowest tier of control which allows trucks to move smoothly through to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel without being held on the M20”.

The suspension of Dover-Calais sailings by P&O Ferries has led to a shortage of capacity on the key route and contributed to large queues of lorries on the roads approaching the Port of Dover in recent days.

A 23-mile coastbound stretch of the M20 had been closed from junction 8 (Maidstone) to junction 11 (Westenhanger) to hold thousands of lorries as part of Operation Brock.

Lorries queued in Operation Brock on the M20
Lorries queued in Operation Brock on the M20 (Gareth Fuller/PA)

In a statement on Saturday, Kent Resilience Forum strategic lead Simon Jones described a “much-improved traffic situation on Kent’s cross-Channel routes” which he said allowed the scaling back of Brock controls for the rest of the Easter weekend.

Nicola Bell, National Highways regional director, said: “We know this news will be welcomed by our communities and businesses that we work daily to protect from the worst impacts of disruption. It will also help visitors to Kent this bank holiday have smoother trips to the county’s many excellent attractions.”

The RAC has suggested the best time to travel on major roads is after 3pm on both Easter Saturday and Sunday, and then either before 10.30am on Easter Monday or after 6.30pm to avoid major queues.

Meanwhile, there have been some reports of fuel shortages, although the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents independent forecourts, said it was not aware of widespread problems.

Gordon Balmer, PRA executive director, said: “We are aware of protests at several fuel supply sites; however, the majority are unaffected.

“Fuel suppliers are working hard to ensure fuels are being delivered as quickly as possible and our members are working closely with them and following their advice.”

One woman in London told the PA news agency: “(I) haven’t been able to (fill up) as of yet, still trying to find some in East London, Newham. Tried About five different stations, I’ve managed to get some now at a Texaco petrol station but only two pumps were working.”

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