Rates of drivers speeding nearly doubles at one location

The number of drivers speeding at one location in Oxfordshire has nearly doubled since speed cameras were switched off there at the end of last month, according to Thames Valley’s Safer Roads Partnership.

The partnership found that 62 drivers passing a deactivated speed camera on Watlington Road, Cowley, opposite Oxford’s BMW Mini plant, were speeding, an 88% rise since before the camera was turned off.

At another location in the historic town of Woodstock, site of Blenheim Palace, 110 people were found to be speeding, an increase of 18% on the levels observed earlier in the year before the camera on the A44, a main route into the Cotswolds, was turned off.

In both cases, the speed of drivers was surveyed from last Thursday through to Monday.

Inspector Paul Winks of Thames Valley Police told the BBC that the finings were "disappointing," saying: "It clearly means switching off the camera has given a green light to a small number of people to break the law.”

He added: "The consequence is more death and more death is unacceptable."

Ellen Booth, from the road safety charity Brake, Ellen Booth, said that it was “extremely concerned” about the incident, adding: "This is people's lives we are talking about.”

She continued: "What we would like to see is councils looking at the issue of speed cameras, not only at how effective they are in reducing death and serious injuries, but also how cost effective they are."

Oxfordshire County Council switched off speed cameras across the county on July 31 after it withdrew £600,000 funding as a result of cuts made necessary by the coalition government slashing theRoad Safety Grant by 40% from £95 million to £57 million.

However, Keith Mitchell, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme that it was too early to tell what the impact of that decision was, with the sample only covering five days and two locations out of 72 throughout the county.

"You need a much longer look at the statistics before we can decide whether there is an increase in danger or not,” he insisted.

"Unless the funding from government comes back, I think there is little chance of us being able to fund this, relative to the other priorities we have," Mr Mitchell added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.