A COUNCIL call for police to enforce Oxford’s 20mph speed limits has been rejected.

A senior officer spoke out after Oxford City Council passed a motion urging Thames Valley Police to crack down on speeding drivers.

Ch Insp Gill Wootton, of the roads policing department, said road layout changes such as chicanes should keep speeds down – and enforcement would only be used as a last resort.

A 20mph limit was brought in on almost all residential roads and some main routes in September 2009 but police said from the outset they would not be actively enforced.

The Labour-controlled council’s motion came after the force switched on speed cameras on April 1 after an eight-month hiatus, spurred by funding fears.

The motion – passed unanimously – said: “Council welcomes the fact that speed enforcement by Thames Valley Police using roadside cameras has come back into effect.

“Council believes that enforcement of all speed limits is necessary to ensure that injuries and fatalities on Oxford’s roads continue to reduce. Council therefore calls upon Thames Valley Police to give enforcement of 20mph speed limits in Oxford their urgent attention.”

But Ch Insp Wootton said: “Speed enforcement will be considered when other options have been exhausted.

This has not been necessary to date. However, we are monitoring the situation in relevant areas.”

Road changes such as chicanes were introduced with the new zones and Chf Insp Wootton said these meant the limits should be “self enforcing”.

“Simply putting a different number at the end of a road and relying on enforcement alone to achieve compliance is not the answer,” she said.

Speeds have been monitored in problem areas, such as Blackbird Leys and Rose Hill.

Liberal Democrat Alan Armitage, who put the motion, said: “It doesn’t say much for the police that they don’t give a damn what the people think.

“It is a high priority for people in Oxford who are worried about protecting themselves and their children.”

Labour leader Bob Price said Beaumont Street and Park End Street were among roads which would benefit from enforcement.

He said: “We don’t expect police to focus all their attention on the enforcement of speed limits but, where you have places where it happens, there is a strong case for them using a short, sharp period of enforcement.”

In April, a police check outside St John Fisher Primary School in Sandy Lane West, found 44 of 110 cars over the limit. But a check in Mill Street, Ferry Hinksey Road and Richmond Road that month found most drivers – 135 out of 137 – stuck to the limits.

Accidents fell from 166 from September 2008 to August 2009 to 159 in the same period the following year.