Motorists have described a ‘living hell’ after the M25 was closed this afternoon between The Dartford Crossing and Waltham Abbey – practically one of the busiest stretches of the entire motorway. Eyewitnesses reported seeing groups of uniformed bailiffs at both ends of the section with cones and fencing, and shortly after the closure it emerged that this part of the road has been closed due to a sudden legal dispute.
Unlike the rest of the M25 motorway, the section that runs through the county of Essex is privately owned, and the leasehold was recently purchased by Essex Mature Desires Ltd – a company that operates adult websites that include ’65+ Essex Wives,’ ‘Bored In Boreham’, ‘Holechester’ and ‘Crouch.’ Under the existing arrangement, the M25 operator leases the road and the land that it is built upon for a token rent of £1 per year plus the permission to advertise ‘wherever it is reasonably possible to do so’, such as on posters and trailers parked up in nearby fields. However, a Southend News Network source has revealed that shortly after the leasehold changed hands, the owner of Mature Desires Ltd demanded to use the new hi-tech average speed displays to show advertisements for their range of adult websites with full graphic content and preview clips.
Because of concerns over road safety, the M25 operator naturally refused this request, and bailiffs were appointed to close the stretch of motorway. The closure document states: ‘With effect from 2pm on Monday 19th January, until such a time that the operator sees fit to fulfil their legal obligations as laid out in the lease agreement relating to the provision of advertising space through all reasonable means – which in this instance pertains to the refusal of the operator to allow advertising to be displayed on capable average speed displays.’
A spokesperson for the M25 operator released a short statement, and it stated: ‘We would like to apologise in the strongest possible terms for the disruption that has been caused here, but we believe that using the average speed displays to show pornographic marketing material would cause a huge amount of offence and an increase in accidents. Therefore, all we can advise drivers to do at the moment is try and find an alternative route.’
A Dartford Crossing official added: ‘We are incredibly disappointed by the behaviour of the leaseholder, and the knock-on effects will be catastrophic. Because of the loss of toll revenue for ourselves, the QE2 bridge may not become fully paid for until 2019 at the earliest. Motorists need to remember that we are still suffering after the tunnel was closed due to the number of people from Kent trying to enter Essex illegally.’
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