MOVES to cut the speed limit on Oxford’s ring road have been branded “unrealistic, unenforceable and dangerous” by police.

Oxford City Council wants a cut from 70mph to 40mph between North Oxford and Barton, as part of its 1,200-home West Barton scheme.

But Thames Valley Police have objected to the idea, ahead of a planning inquiry into the scheme next week.

The force says the speed limit would be inappropriate for a dual carriagway and as the police cannot enforce it 24 hours a day it can be abused by drivers.

Pedestrians also “ill judge” their decisions because they think traffic should be flowing more slowly, which can lead to collisions, according to the force’s inquiry submission.

Darren Humphries, traffic management officer with Thames Valley Police, warned: “Considering that almost all the amenities – school, hospitals and the like – will be located on the other side of the ring road from the development, there is likely to be a large vulnerable road user footfall across the road.

“It would be dangerous to introduce a potential conflict between these vulnerable road users and the main traffic flow. Crossing points should be in the form of overbridges or subways to minimise the chance of collision.”

Oxfordshire County Council has also objected to the idea, which could lead to a clash between the two authorities over who has the power to decide speed and safety measures on the ring road.

The public examination into the Barton scheme Area Action Plan opens on Monday and ends on Friday.

The city council hopes to persuade the planning inspector that cutting speed to 40mph is crucial to its plans.

The scheme would see homes facing on to the road, with pedestrian crossings also introduced as part of the scheme to link the new estate with the rest of the city.

But the county council, which has responsibility for speed limits, would prefer a 50mph limit, claiming the change would “compromise” the function of the A40.

The county is also against the idea of houses fronting the road, warning that three proposed pedestrian crossings would lead to up to six accidents a year.

Last month, the councils were warned by planning inspector Shelagh Bussey that failure to reach agreement on the speed issue could have serious implications for the whole scheme.

Submissions to the inspector make it clear no deal is in sight, with the Town Hall taking top legal advice in a bid to keep its boulevard idea alive.

The city’s submission said: “Queen’s Counsel advises that the inspector has the final say as the representative of the Secretary of State. It is understood that the county council has not accepted this. We have been advised that the inspector can be reassured that she has the final say on whether it should be 40 or 50 mph.”

The county council’s principal solicitor Julia Taplin said County Hall was satisfied that the speed limit could not “be predetermined” by the Action Plan to meet the planning requirements of the Barton scheme. It wants the city to reconsider the new homes’ location.