ESSEX County Council is standing in the way of moves to impose a blanket 20mph speed limit on residential streets all across Colchester, an angry councillor claims.

Colchester Council wants the life-saving lower limit and is urging residents to press County Hall to get on with bringing it in.

The county council is less keen on the move, while the police have reservations about having to enforce a 20mph limit.

Faced with frustrating delays, Paul Wilkinson, borough transport policy manager, is suggesting the way forward is for thousands of ordinary Colchester residents to press County Hall to make the change.

In a report to councillors, he suggests “using both political channels and the consultation process to try and influence the position”.

Mr Wilkinson says the law allows 20mph limits in individual roads, but blames the county council’s current speed management strategy for holding up moves to a blanket limit.

The county strategy is to use other methods to make streets safer, including traffic-calming measures, the report condemns as “undeliverable”.

Nigel Offen, Lib Dem councillor for Shrub End and a former surgeon, said: “There is a brick wall in the way at the moment.

“I have spent a great deal of my life mending people hit at 30mph rather than 20mph.

“There is no doubt the value in the adage, ‘speed kills’. It is absolutely true. I don’t see how anyone can possibly argue against it – 20mph would be an awful lot safer.”

He joined Mr Wilkinson in urging residents to press for change, saying: “Residents are almost entirely in favour of this.

“The police have to be told this is what Colchester wants. The county council should be lobbied on this and it should change its position.”

Dennis Willetts, Tory ward councillor for West Bergholt and Eight Ash Green, agreed, saying: “It is what the people of Colchester want so we are duty-bound to do it.

“If you go around and ask anyone on residential estates, most of them want 20 mph. There is no doubt we should implement this.”

A county council spokes-man stressed under its speed management strategy, 20mph zones had to meet Govnernment guidelines. Because money was tight, it could make not promises until the matter had been fully conisdered.

He added: “The county council is monitoring similar zones in Portsmouth and Oxford and the results over the coming months will help form a decision on whether this can go ahead in Colchester.”