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New 20mph limits 'waste of money' because police won't enforce them

New 20mph limits 'waste of money' because police won't enforce them

Rodney Rose

Rodney Rose

First published in Wallingford Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by

OXFORDSHIRE’S roads chief has damned 20mph speed limits as a “waste of money” because police are not enforcing them.

Police have not issued a single ticket for breaking the 20mph limit in Oxford since Oxfordshire County Council spent almost £250,000 imposing the scheme in September 2009.

Figures obtained by us show there has not been a reduction in the number of people seriously hurt.

Now Rodney Rose, the county council cabinet member for transport, has ruled out expanding the scheme into other towns.

Campaigners said it would make the streets safer.

In 2008 there were 61 people either killed or seriously injured (KSI) in Oxford.

That rose to 71 KSI in 2009 and 72 in 2010, the latest figures available. The number of accidents also rose.

In the two years before September 2009 there were 64 crashes that resulted in KSIs – considered by transport experts the most reliable statistic to judge road safety upon.

That has risen to 71 in the first two years of the 20mph scheme.

But slight injuries fell during the same period, from 409 to 340.

Police confirmed they have not ticketed anyone and Mr Rose, reacting to a call to impose 20mph limits in Witney, said: “Unless enforced, they are a waste of money.

“It does slow things up a little bit but not as much as an enforced 20mph speed limit would.

“If I got police support for 20mph, I would be much more inclined to put more (20mph limits) in across Oxfordshire. But until it is enforced it is not worth the investment.”

But Anna Semlyen, campaign manager of 20s Plenty for Us, said: “Speeds have reduced by an average of 1.3mph so it is not true that it has not worked. Every mile per hour that is reduced on average reduces casualties by six per cent.”

The KSI figures for 2008 and 2009 included two fatalities each year, while there were none in the first two years of the 20mph scheme. However in October last year cyclist Joanna Braithwaite died in a collision in Woodstock Road, Oxford.

Ms Semlyen also said, despite the increase in serious injuries, the reduction in deaths and slight injuries have resulted in an overall financial saving for Oxfordshire.

She added: “The culprits here are the police. If democracy has decided 20mph is the best limit, why have they not policed it?”

Oxford taxi driver Khalil Ahmed said: “It should be enforced and, if it was, people would not go zooming down there. I have seen people frequently speeding.”

Witney Bicycle User Group (BUG) chairman Kevin Hickman called for a 20mph limit in Witney town centre.

He said: “The county council, to its credit, has introduced it in Oxford and now we just need the police to do their job and actually enforce what most people want.”

Thames Valley Police said that, in line with Department for Transport guidance, traffic calming measures should be used to make 20mph limits “self-enforcing”.

Force spokesman Lucy Billen added: “Simply putting a different number at the end of a road and relying on enforcement alone to achieve compliance is not the answer.”

Portsmouth introduced the first 20mph speed limits in the UK in 2007. Department for Transport figures showed an increase in KSIs from 18.7 per year in the three years before to 19.9 in the following two years.

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