Oxfordshire County Council' decision to spend £150,000 on promoting its 20mph policy to residents has been slammed as a "waste of money"

A written question submitted by the shadow cabinet member for highways Liam Walker to the January cabinet meeting has revealed the county council has spent £151,676 on advertising of the speed reduction campaign.

Mr Walker described it as "a complete waste of taxpayers' money".

The council is rolling out 20mph as the new 30mph in streets where communities – via the town or parish council – have specifically requested them. 

Bicester Advertiser: An ad for the 20mph programme at a Tesco fuel station in Bicester An ad for the 20mph programme at a Tesco fuel station in Bicester (Image: Ian Hudspeth)

The £8million project will see the measures brought in over a three-year programme.

Councillor Glynis Phillips, cabinet member for corporate services, confirmed that between February and March 2022 the council spent £13,032 on external advertising and producing materials.

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This included digital and social media advertising, bus backs, radio advertising, and an animation. 

From October to December 2022 a total of £40,433 was spent on external advertising that included digital signage in supermarkets and shopping centres across Oxfordshire, radio, digital and social media advertising, and advertising on petrol pumps in service stations. 

During January this year and for February a total of £98,211 has been planned on external advertising and producing materials.

This includes digital signage in supermarkets and shopping centres across Oxfordshire and along commuter routes into the county, advertising on Sky TV, radio, online audio, digital and social media advertising, petrol pump advertising and on bus backs.

Mr Walker said: "I think residents will be utterly astonished to hear that the coalition have spent this amount of money on advertising at the same time as hiking up our council tax to highest legal amount.

"This money should have been spent on children services or perhaps fixing about 2,500 potholes for the same cost.

"This is a complete waste of taxpayers' money and the residents of Oxfordshire deserve better than this." 

Bicester Advertiser: Councillor Liam Walker Councillor Liam Walker

Under the scheme, the county council will fund the signage and any line-only changes but any additional engineering measures needed to implement the restriction will require third-party funding.

Oxfordshire County Council said the 20mph programme was brought in "to make communities safer and more pleasant places, and – most importantly – to save lives.

"Depending on age, survivability of a collision at 20mph is about 7-10 times higher than at 30mph, and stopping distances are halved."

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It said in the context of an £8 million three-year programme "this budget to improve awareness is not excessive".

A spokesperson added: "The awareness campaign has gone to great lengths to ensure value for money and to maximise the impact on target groups – especially those most likely not to respect the new speed limits.

"The results were regularly analysed to make sure the adverts were hitting their targets in terms of numbers and geography. Awareness campaigns are an important part of any project like this, just as it was with wearing a seatbelt and drink-driving in the past."


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This story was written by Miranda Norris, she joined the team in 2021 and covers news across Oxfordshire as well as news from Witney.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Miranda.Norris@newsquest.co.uk. Or find her on Twitter: @Mirandajnorris

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