POLICE have admitted not a single speeding ticket has been issued in Lancashire’s 20mph zones in five years.
Now council bosses have started laying speed bumps on one of the worst residential roads in the county in a desperate attempt to calm drivers down.
Lancashire has spent more than £9m on its 20mph programme since it was first introduced in 2011. Yet not a penny of that has been recouped in fines.
Police have responded to claims by residents that the scheme has been a total flop by warning: “We can and will prosecute.”
But they say that because of cutbacks, they have been forced to target their dwindling resources on roads where there is the biggest risk to life and limb.
“We can confirm that there have been no prosecutions in 20mph zones,” revealed a spokesperson at the force’s headquarters in Hutton.
Officers explain that, due to cutbacks, they are now forced to target their dwindling resources on the roads where danger to life and limb is greatest.
And that means hundreds of residential areas with 20mph restrictions go under the radar.
“Fortunately only a minority of collisions in Lancashire actually happen within these 20mph zones,” said a statement issued by the county force.
“As a force we are not complacent when it comes to tackling issues around road safety and we continue to work in partnership with the council and with our residents to identify those areas where they feel road safety is an issue.
“In light of changes in demand, and austerity measures, we take a targeted approach to policing our roads and focus on areas where the most casualties are recorded and the injuries sustained are the most severe.
“Engagement and education is key to ensuring that the public fully understand our work in this area.
“Where engagement and education does not work, then we can and will prosecute. But our ultimate aim is to keep everyone using the roads in Lancashire safe and to deal with incidents proportionately.
“We always endeavour to respond to local concerns in relation to excess speed and road safety, and we would urge anyone with concerns to get in touch with their local neighbourhood teams.”
The 20 mph speed limits were introduced in 2011 in Lancashire and upwards of £9m has been spent on the scheme.
Critics say that, considering the cost, motorists should be brought to book if they ignore them.
Yet when an e-petition was launched in the summer calling on Lancashire Police to start enforcing the law, only nine people signed it in six weeks.
Highways chiefs at Lancashire County Council say the number of collisions in 20mph areas has gone down.
But, where there is evidence that motorists are clearly ignoring the restrictions - as in Larches Lane, Preston - there is cash in the budget to bring in further traffic calming measures such as speed bumps and junction tables.
“We identified funding to provide traffic calming in 20mph areas which only had signs, where additional measures were needed to reduce the number of incidents,” explained Coun John Fillis, LCC cabinet member for highways and transport.
“Each site has to be considered on its own merits, based on the evidence available.
“The route through Larches Estate was identified as being suitable for this, and consultations were carried out with local people and the police prior to these measures being brought in.
“We’re working hard to improve safety on Lancashire’s roads and we will continue to monitor the situation.”
A spokesperson for the county council added: “Where we have 20mph areas, this is the legal speed limit and can be enforced.
“People often receive warning letters if they have been observed speeding during community or school road watch operations.
“However this does not mean that drivers couldn’t be prosecuted by the police for speeding.”