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County highways chief disputes police advice on speed reduction measures

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County highways chief disputes police advice on speed limits
Oxfordshire County Council highways chief has disputed Thames Valley police advice on the effectiveness of some measures to lower speed limits in Oxfordshire.

The councillor with the power to lower speed limits on Oxfordshire highways has disputed Thames Valley Police force’s advice on the effectiveness of some measures.

Councillor Andrew Gant (Lib Dem, Wolvercote & Summertown), the cabinet member for highway management at Oxfordshire County Council, addressed the matter while rubber-stamping extended 40 miles-per-hour (mph) areas for Fringford Road and Aunt Ems Lane, Caversfield, and new 20 mph limits through Combe, near Witney.

Police forces are among the bodies consulted on such matters, with TVP’s traffic officer objecting to both.

The force’s responses stated that “the current speed of traffic is a reliable indicator of how acceptable a new speed limit would be” and “if the mean speed is over the proposed limit, it is unlikely to be effective without other measures such as engineering or continual enforcement”.

“Drivers must respect the need for a speed limit,” they continue. “If it is not accepted as realistic, it will quickly be abused and the source of constant demands for police action. The police stance still reflects that 20mph limits and zones should be self-enforcing.”

It said that data for Robin Hill and Akeman Street in Combe did not warrant lowering from 30 to 20 mph “unless other engineering is being considered for these locations”.

TVP’s response to the Caversfield proposals suggested: “changes to the highway, for example through narrowing, providing vertical traffic calming or realigning the road, may be required to encourage lower speeds in addition to any change in speed limit”.

The traffic officer added: “I also note during my site visit the main road within the village is currently subject to 40 mph. Extending it out to the A41 and A4095 will weaken any benefit the current limit gives.

“The current terminal signs are placed where the environment becomes more urban, and these will go if the limit is extended.”

Councillor Gant said such responses were “familiar” with their merits understood by the council but added: “It may not be my place to cross swords with Her Majesty’s Constabulary, but to me, that does not seem to be a reason for not having the speed limit that we want.

“Frankly, I think we have to trust people to obey the law and understand the reasons for it. I am afraid I don’t agree with the police there.”

He passed both sets of measures in line with recommendations made by council officers.

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