MOTORISTS who speed in Oxford’s 20mph zones face being fined or hauled before the courts for the first time.
Thames Valley Police yesterday announced officers would start enforcing the 20mph limit for the first time since its widespread introduction three years ago.
It came just months after the county’s roads boss Rodney Rose warned the scheme had been a waste of money because of the lack of enforcement – saying it would not be rolled out elsewhere.
Last night Mr Rose cautiously welcomed the decision by Thames Valley Police to start enforcing the zones in thecity.
The county council spent almost £250,000 introducing the scheme for almost all residential roads and some main routes in September 2009.
But earlier this year police admitted they had not issued a single ticket for breaking the 20mph limit.
Yesterday police revealed they have started to enforce some 20mph zones in Oxford, following comments from campaigners and politicians.
Head of roads policing Supt Chris Brown said: “We have begun enforcing the 20mph speed restrictions in response to feedback from local communities about specific road safety issues in specific areas.
“This is an opportunity to see the results of proportionate, targeted enforcement in areas where there are concerns around 20mph limits.
“We do hope, however, that the 20mph speed restriction will continue to be largely self-enforcing by use of signage and road engineering.”
Mr Rose, also county council deputy leader, said: “It will be interesting to see how this works out in practice, how much enforcement takes place and what impact this has.
“Until we know these things it is difficult to make any judgements about 20mph limits in other parts of Oxfordshire in a time of financial constraint.”
Oxford Pedestrians’ Association welcomed the move but said it had taken a long time for police to go ahead with enforcement.
Chairman Sushila Dhall said: “There has been a huge call from the community for the 20mph limit to be enforced in Oxford.
“We are delighted that the police have found the resources for this – drivers should realise they are potentially zooming around in a lethal weapon.”
Police refused to say how far over 20mph drivers would have to be before being fined or prosecuted.
Yesterday in the 20mph zone in Morrell Avenue, East Oxford, police stopped drivers travelling at 26mph and above.
Those travelling between 26mph and 31mph were given a verbal caution, while those travelling at 32mph and above were given fixed penalty notices of £60, plus three points. Out of 67 drivers stopped for speeding, 11 were given fixed penalty notices.
Richard Mann, spokesman for Oxford cycling campaign group Cyclox , said: “Driving at 32mph in a 20mph is taking the mickey and at that speed a driver could seriously injure someone or even kill them if they hit them.
“Cyclox is pleased that drivers will now have a clear message that they should not speed in a 20mph zone.”
In the two years before September 2009 there were 64 crashes that resulted in people being killed or seriously injured in Oxford.
That figure rose to 71 in the first two years of the 20mph scheme but slight injuries fell in the same period from 409 to 340.
- September 2009: New 20mph zones come into force.
- March 2010: An Oxford Mail speed survey finds that 75 per cent of drivers in Morrell Avenue are exceeding the speed limit.
- September 2010: An Oxford Mail speed check finds 81 per cent of drivers in Morrell Avenue are exceeding the 20mph limit.
- February 2011: New figures show drivers have slowed down by an average of 0.9mph since the new limit was introduced.
- July 2011: Oxford City Council calls for 20mph limits to be enforced but Chief Insp Gill Wootton of roads policing says enforcement will be a “last resort.”
- April 2012: Rodney Rose condemns 20mph speed limits as waste of money because police are not enforcing them.
- May 2012: Headteachers in Abingdon express disappointment after Rodney Rose rules out 20mph zones for market towns.
- August 2012: Police announce they are enforcing 20mph speed limits in Oxford.