A caravan transporter left motorists fuming after causing miles of tailbacks as it picked its way along country roads.
Police had to intervene after oncoming HGVs became stuck on bends and cars had to move onto verges yesterday.
According to the Daily Post, Midlands-based James Muntz Transport had police clearance to take the static caravan north along the A470 to Aberystwyth before travelling east on the A44 to Caersws, Powys. However, huge queues built up and, at points along the route, traffic came to a complete stop.
When photos of the chaos were shared on social media, it prompted complaints from drivers who ran late for school runs and appointments. One cancelled a planned trip to North Wales. She said: “Lorries were having to stop, pull in their wing mirrors and then take 10-15 minutes to squeeze past the transporter.
“Cars were up verges and drivers were running red lights as they didn’t want to wait any longer. It was carnage. By the time we got to Aber it was too late to continue our journey so we had to turn back – a waste of time and fuel.”
Wales has built a thriving caravan park sector and each year hundreds of statics and chalets are shifted along the country’s roads, mostly without problems. Some people believe slow-moving transporters are a price worth paying and that patience is a virtue for motorists following them.
But this was in short supply yesterday as the low-loader travelled up along the A470 from Synod Inn, Ceredigion. Motorists were left wondering why the transporter couldn’t pull over to let traffic past, and why its escort van didn’t do more to warn oncoming truck drivers.
One man had a torrid journey. “It took me 10 minutes to get to Aberaron from Llanrhystud, and one hour and 15 minutes to get back – while there was a roofer on my roof waiting for two ridge tiles,” he said. “By the time I got back, the queue was about 4 miles long.”
A receptionist found herself caught up in the queues while on the school run. “A couple of idiots got very impatient and tried to overtake on a blind bend,” she wrote.
An Aberystwyth woman added: “Traffic was miles back when I looked in the rearview mirror. The escort vehicle should have been way in front of the lorry to stop traffic coming in the opposite direction.”
Several drivers called Dyfed-Powys Police. Concerns centred on the ability of the wide load to navigate roadworks and problems caused by oncoming trucks. One officer who chanced upon a blockage cleared the transporter’s paperwork and helped clear the road.
A waiting motorist said: “We were initially stuck just past Aberaeron for around 10 minutes as a lorry tried to get past. After that, we were constantly stopping for up to five minutes at a time when oncoming lorries got stuck.
“In between, the convoy was moving but it was slow. In Llanon, workmen had to move traffic cones as the transporter was running over them trying to squeeze past. There were plenty of places he could have pulled over, even with the size of the load.”
The company said it successfully applied for a Movement Order via the UK Government’s online portal Esdal two days before setting off. According to owner James Muntz, the route and times are determined by the relevant police force. Any deviations can result in a fine of up to £6,000 and the possible loss of the company’s operating licence, he said. As so many caravans are being moved around the country, he believes it is impossible to pre-publicise every single journey.
The static caravan was loaded in New Quay by Mr Muntz. He said: “All the way from New Quay until the other side of Aberystwyth there was not a layby empty or suitable for me to pull in to let traffic pass.
“I understand motorists get frustrated with hold-ups, but they have to remember how many caravan parks and caravans are in Wales, boosting its economy. I’m not the one who ordered such a big caravan and I’m not the one who approved the route, but we are the ones trying to safely deliver the caravans which provide so much tourism and income for the small towns and villages of Wales.
“I move caravans all around the country five days a week. There is only so much we can do to keep the roads flowing, and if people don’t want to wait a couple of minutes, then they will sometimes end up waiting longer due to them getting themselves in a situation which we then have to sort out.”
When towing a wide load, finding a suitable layby is not always easy, said Mr Muntz. Some roads and times are prohibited by the police, varying from force to force, and wide loads must follow the agreed route
Although not a requirement by the police on every job, he prefers to use an escort vehicle. These are used to warn other road users of what lies ahead – but they have their limitations.
“They aren’t legally allowed to tell anyone to stop and wait, only ask nicely,” he said. “My escort driver is very good at his job and polite, but there is only so much he can do when people ignore him and think they can squeeze past when he has asked them to wait literally a minute in the wider part of the road that he has met them.”
Other HGV drivers sympathised and some motorists did too. “This is part and parcel of living around an area like this – tractors, caravans, wide loads…” said one woman. “The driver is definitely having a more stressed-filled day than you are following him.”
Dyfed-Powys Police was approached for a comment.
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