New 20mph speed limits are to be introduced in four areas of Oxfordshire despite concerns the county will "soon become like North Korea".

Highways chief Andrew Gant held off on a decision to introduce the limits in Banbury due partly to the town's two county councillors disagreeing on the matter.

Recommendations to bring new 20mph speed limits to Sutton Courtenay, Woodstock, Radley, and the Grimsbury and Nethercote areas of Banbury were all agreed.

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An objector for the introduction of limits in the Radley area claimed that these had been the workings of a "Marxist" council and that "Oxfordshire will soon become like North Korea".

Mr Gant responded: "I don't recognise that characterisation of Oxfordshire."

The county council speed limit programme aims to roll out 20mph in areas as a replacement for 30mph areas "where there is local support".

It cites research which suggests individuals are seven times more likely to survive if they are hit by a car driving at 20mph, than if they are hit at 30mph.

Oxford Mail: Highways chief, Andrew Gant.Highways chief, Andrew Gant. (Image: Ed Nix.)

Strong reservations to the proposals were expressed by some residents in Banbury through a consultation, with 427 of 649 respondents objecting.

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis said she had reservations about a "blanket" rollout, and that she had heard strong concerns from constituents on the matter. 

She was also surprised the consultation appeared to have been "ignored" given officers' recommendations for approval.

Mr Gant questioned use of the term "blanket" but said: "I would very much prefer to proceed with a scheme like this with the full consent of elected members.

"We don’t have it at the moment and that’s a concern."

Criticism from the consultation was less frequent in areas besides Banbury, with eight out of 14 respondents objecting to the policy in Sutton Courtenay.

There were also 41 out of 219 objections in Woodstock, two out of five in Radley, and 43 per cent of people voiced concern across the Grimsbury and Nethercote areas.

Oxford Mail: Banbury MP, Victoria Prentis.Banbury MP, Victoria Prentis. (Image: n/a)

Officers highlighted there were nine roads in the Banbury area where proposed 20mph speed limits were a particular cause for concern.

Paul Bonsor, a member of a local group of residents which would "like to see Banbury become a more pedestrian and cycle-friendly place", said: "It's also just common sense.

"The 20mph limit reduces road deaths, accident rates and serious injuries.

"Who wouldn't want that."

"Increased congestion" is the main cause of concern for Banbury residents in relation to the measures followed by a view that the limits are "unnecessary".

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: "There should be no expectation that the police would be able to provide regular enforcement if a speed limit is set too low."