POLICE chiefs are poised to sign a ground-breaking deal with County Hall to switch back on Oxfordshire’s deactivated speed cameras.

Just three months ago, Oxfordshire axed all its speed cameras when the council controversially withdrew £600,000 of funding to the Thames Valley Safer Roads partnership.

The move was attacked by nine motoring organisations, including the AA and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

A month after the switch-off, radar speed surveys showed drivers committed up to four times more speed offences at the camera site at Cumnor Hill/West Way in Botley.

Last night villagers in Nuneham Courtenay, which has a 30mph speed limit, were celebrating news of the switch-on – though reactivation isn’t likely to happen for five months. Residents claim that since their camera on the A4074 was switched off some drivers have raced past at more than 60mph.

Mark Williams, 41, said: “This is excellent news. It will make a big difference to the village.

“When the traffic is light some drivers go straight through the village really fast.”

Last night it was unclear whether the dealt meant all of the county’s 72 speed camera and seven ‘red light’ cameras will be switched back on or just a number of them.

The Oxford Mail understands that the cameras are set to be reactivated at the start of the new financial year next April and that police are putting up the bulk of the cash for the deal.

Woodstock town councillor and former mayor Peter Jay said: “I’m delighted that it appears that common sense has prevailed. Cameras are the only mechanism of effectively controlling speed.

“However, I’m disappointed and shocked that common sense having prevailed we have to wait until action is taken.

“They should switch them back on immediately as lives could be lost.”

But Mark McArthur-Christie, chairman of the Oxford group of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “I’m extremely disappointed to see this.

“I suspect this is the authorities baying to what they think is public opinion.

“Public opinion is a vocal small group of people who don’t understand road safety and that complying with a number on a stick doesn’t make drivers safe.”

Police spokesman Victoria Bartlett said the force had been working with the Association of Chief Police Officers to overcome the problems caused by local council funding cuts for road safety.

She added: “We were disappointed that the council decided to withdraw from the Safer Roads Partnership.”