A council has been slammed for "wasting" thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on enlarging 20mph signs that are continually ignored by drivers.

It has been revealed that Oxfordshire County Council spent £11,000 on making 20 mph speed limit signs bigger around Witney.

The decision was made to increase the visibility of the new speed limit after reports that it was being repeatedly ignored.

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The figure came to light in a response to a question submitted by local county councillor Liam Walker, who is the shadow cabinet member for highways, to Andrew Gant, the cabinet member responsible for highways in Oxfordshire.

Witney Gazette:

Mr Gant replied: "The larger signs were installed to increase the visibility of the new speed limit due to continuing reported non-compliance.

"When such concerns are expressed, we consider increasing the size of signs, but only on major routes."

Mr Walker said it was "yet another example of the coalition wasting public funds on failed pet projects".

Oxfordshire County Council is cutting speed limits in communities which support it as part of plans that cost up to £8million over three years.

Witney was one of the first places in the country to introduce 20mph speed limits right across the town centre in November 2022.

Supporters said it would make roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

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But critics said Oxfordshire County Council ignored local people and many businesses that were opposed to the plan.

Police said the 20mph limits will only be enforced 'where appropriate'.

Mr Walker said: "The council has now accepted it seems that simply changing road signs to 20 mph has made very little difference and are now being forced to make the signs bigger in the hope this will make drivers comply with the new speed limits.

"The Department for Transport guidance on 20mph speed limits made it clear there is often a need to have traffic calming to help bring speeds down, but the coalition thought they knew best and allocated £8million of our money to change just road signs instead." 

The 20mph speed limit is being rolled out across Oxfordshire with 234 now in place or coming soon to towns, villages and Oxford city.

Mr Walker said the money should have been used for schemes "with a more direct impact on traffic safety or community well-being".

Witney Gazette: OCC 'waste' £11k of enlarging 20mph signs

Oxfordshire County Council said the larger signs are being installed after specific local calls for them and it was "being responsive to those calls in a very targeted, localised way".

In a statement, it said: "The council has been working alongside Thames Valley Police, viewing this as a long-term project with the emphasis is on drivers adhering to the new limits through a change of mindset, rather than enforcement."

And it did not rule out introducing further physical features to curb speeding.

It said: "The county council will support measures from a simple change of speed signs to more complex engineered solutions in areas that can range from a whole village or a single street.

"We will not provide speed cameras or traffic calming, such as road humps, as part of the programme (although parishes and towns can fund this if they wish). 

"Officers will work with local bodies to establish the best methods for ensuring compliance within their areas.