8 November 2000
Haddock: Don’t join fuel tax protests
By FWi staff
FARMERS are being asked by one of their leaders not to take part in planned high-profile protests against fuel tax levels.
Protesters plan to take a slow-moving convoy from Tyneside to London at the weekend and hold a rally in the capital on Tuesday (14 November) if fuel tax is not cut.
But Richard Haddock told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme it was unfair to put the flood-hit country through further disruption.
Tracts of the country have been submerged under feet of water in some of the worst floods in 400 years.
The West-Country producer, whose willingness to take direct action has won him widespread grassroots support, believes few farmers will now join the action.
“Let the country sort itself out. We cant see the state the British public are in at the moment and drive a very large demonstration through it as well,” he said.
Mr Haddock said protesters had sent a clear message to the Government and he had received indications that ministers wanted time to look at different options.
He appealed for calm in the meantime.
“Lets keep the pressure on. But at the moment I dont want to see any demonstrations. Lets dry the country out and then go forward again.”
On Wednesday afternoon (08 November) Chancellor Gordon Brown presents his Pre-Budget statement to MPs, which is widely believed to include an olive branch for protesters.
Reports say he will offer a freeze on fuel tax, cut the cost of tax discs for lorries by between 500 and 1000.
The Chancellor is also expected to introduce a 1500 charge for lorries on British roads.
Foreign owners would pay in full for this “Brit disc” and British companies woulld have the cost offset by tax disc savings, claims the BBC.
Whether these measures would be enough to appease fuel tax protesters remains to be seen.