TRANSPORT chiefs have criticised police for not turning up to explain their objections as the row over speed limit cuts on the county’s roads intensified.

At a meeting yesterday, Oxfordshire County Council agreed to impose lower limits on 49 stretches of 24 of the county’s A and B roads despite the fact Thames Valley Police opposed more than half of them.

The force made written objections to 27 of the cuts.

The council also agreed to impose a new 20mph zone in Abingdon town centre, despite similar protests.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said officers were happy to attend the meeting but were told by the council not to attend as it would have a “detrimental effect on the close working relationship between the police and council”.

However, last night county council spokesman Owen Morton denied that claim.

Police had objected to the recommendations in the council’s Government-imposed year-long review of the county’s speed limits, stating accident rates and vehicle speeds did not justify reductions.

They were also concerned the limits could create an enforcement burden.

Ian Hudspeth, cabinet member for growth and implementation said during the meeting: “It’s quite a shame that police have objections on enforcement grounds, but if the speed limits are there it’s for the police to enforce them.

“It’s also disappointing that the police weren’t here to explain why they thought these speed limits weren’t necessary.”

Police opposed a £7,000 plan to introduce 20mph limits on 24 streets in Abingdon without traffic calming measures and objected to reducing speeds on the town’s arterial A415.

The scheme has received a mixed reception from residents.

Mark Kelly, deputy manager at The Nags Head, in Bridge Street, said: “It’s a good decision because there have been times when I’ve seen people racing at 40mph or faster.”

Grieving husband Paul Bennett gave an emotional speech at yesterday’s meeting to request a 40mph speed limit on the B4022, after his wife became the eighth person to die on the road in a decade.

Linda Bennett was killed in a head-on crash on the 60mph road near Charlbury in November, just three days before her 54th birthday.

Although councillors said they were moved by Mr Bennett’s speech they agreed to introduce a 50mph limit between Charlbury and Hailey after council officers said it would take six months to bring forward new proposals for the road.