POLICE are not fining drivers flouting Oxford city centre’s 20mph limit unless they are speeding at 32mph or more.

Officers running a speed check in St Giles yesterday told the Oxford Mail most motorists ignored the limit.

The top speed recorded between 8am and 10am was 41mph as 83 vehicles were stopped for travelling over 26mph.

Even an Oxford City Council roadsweeper was clocked at 29mph.

Eighteen drivers – who were travelling between 32mph and 39mph – were fined £60 and given three penalty points.

And the van driver going 41mph will face court.

But the 64 going between 26mph and 31mph were only given advice.

Usually drivers speeding above 10 per cent of the limit plus 2mph are fined or offered an £85 speed awareness course.

But Thames Valley Police has chosen not to ticket motorists falling into the lower bracket as there is currently no course offered for those abusing 20mph zones.

The limit was introduced in Oxford three years ago, but police only started speed checks earlier this year after complaints they were not being enforced.

And last night Rodney Rose, Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for transport, said council cash would not be spent on new 20mph zones until there was stricter enforcement.

He said: “It should be exactly the same as the other range of speed limits. Anything above 24mph should have a £60 fine and three points.”

St John Street resident Roy Goode, 79, said: “It’s effectively letting them drive at 30mph, which defeats the whole object.”

Pc Mark Pilling, of Abingdon Roads Policing, said officers were now running checks in St Giles once a month.

And he said: “The majority of drivers will be driving in excess of the 20mph speed limit.”

But he said police were not too lenient, adding: “It’s proportionate. We don’t want to come in too heavy handed.”

He said courses for those breaking the 20mph limit would be introduced, adding: “The intention is it will come in and we will then be dealing with everyone in the same way.”

The penalty guidelines for speeding are set by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

There were five officers running the operation yesterday.

Cyclist David Williams, 52, welcomed the action.

He said: “I have been waiting for this for years.

“When it was at 30mph, everyone drove at 40mph. Now it’s 20mph, everyone drives at 30mph, which makes the road safer.”

Pc Andy Wickens said most drivers stopped yesterday claimed they did not know the limit. He said: “It’s been in force a while and it’s perfectly signposted.”

Harley Pouget, a company director at Oxford Fine Food, was stopped for driving at 29mph.

The 46-year-old said: “For this bit of road 20mph is bordering on insane. You have so much space. It’s a very safe road.”

Tourist John Blackmore, 73, from Somerset, said he had no idea of the limit before police told him he was travelling at nearly 30mph.

He said: “If it was painted on the road I would have seen it.”