A public consultation has been launched on proposals to introduce a 20mph speed limit throughout Witney.

It would make Witney the largest town in Oxfordshire to pilot a large-scale speed reduction to 20mph, funded entirely by the county council.

Councillor Liz Leffman, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’re delighted that more than 70 villages and some urban areas throughout the county have signed up to request their streets are reduced to 20mph speed limits after an initiative we agreed last autumn.

"It’s a pleasure to see that plan taking shape and local communities will reap the benefit in terms of safer streets.”

Witney Town Council has campaigned for speed restrictions following requests from residents for some time and said drivers have responded well to the 20mph reductions already created between Tower Hill and Madley Park.

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Cllr Liz Duncan, mayor of Witney, and chair of a Town Council working party on the scheme, said: “It is exciting to see this comprehensive 20mph scheme coming to our town, bringing improved road safety for residential streets, reducing the risks of death and injury. 

"We have received many requests from residents for the reduced speed limit and this whole town approach will bring huge benefits.

"As well as safer streets, other similar schemes have seen reductions in traffic noise, better air quality and increased physical activity because with roads feeling safer, people are happier to leave the car at home and walk or cycle instead.” 

But some critics said the speed limit would make no difference because traffic already moves slowly in the area.

Abdul Mubin, owner of Abdul’s taxis, said: “We always go 20mph on the estates anyway. But it will be bad for our business as it will make journeys longer.”

And Tammi Hamid, owner of Tammi’s taxis, said: “What can you do, they’re the council. It’s only a small town so what difference does it make if people go 30 or 20? You go 20 for 100 yards then you go 30. People go slow as it is, there’s not enough space to go fast.”

County Cllr Liam Walker, who represents Hanborough and Minster Lovell Division and is shadow cabinet member for highway management, said: "I think 20mph roads in residential areas are beneficial particularly around schools, playgrounds, or shopping areas like the town centre but a blanket ban with limited enforcement from the police most likely won't work.

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"We are fortunate enough to have very few deaths on our roads each year in West Oxfordshire as a result of speeding but myself and many councillor colleagues get repeated complaints about drivers speeding.

"Is 20mph the answer to getting rid of speeding, I don't think so, but I do think 20mph helps to remind drivers to keep their speeds down especially in built up areas." 

The speed limit is already 20mph in the Cogges, north-east and town centre areas.

The extended 20mph speed limit will lead out to points on: A4095 Woodstock Road, New Yatt Road, B4022 Hailey Road, Witney/Crawley Road, B4047 Burford Road, A4095 Curbridge Road, Stanton Harcourt Road, and B4022 Oxford Hill.

The A415 Ducklington Lane and Station Road will keep a 30mph limit.

On the B4047 Burford Road, Deer Park Road, and Thorney Leys the current 40mph limit will be reduced to 30mph.

And the 50mph speed limit on Jubilee Road, the A4095 Witney Road, and on the A4095 Woodstock Road will be reduced to 40mph.

The county council has launched a consultation on its website which closes on Friday July 8.