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30 April 2011, 06:00
A Thames Valley bridge - famous for people jumping off during May Day celebrations - will stay open to pedestrians tonight for the first time in six years.
Magdelan Bridge in Oxford has been closed on May Morning since 2005 after 40 people were injured jumping into the river.
But council bosses have told Heart they reckon it's now safe again to allow people to gather to hear the choir sing from Magdelan College. However if there is disruption they'll close it again - it'll already be closed to traffic.
May Morning celebrations start at 6am with the choir of Magdalen College singing Hymnus Eucharisticus from the Great Tower. Hymnus Eucharisticus was composed in the 17th century by a Fellow of Magdalen and has been sung every year from the Great Tower on May Morning.
A sun will be coming over from the east side of the bridge followed by Sol Samba shortly after the choir finishes their performance. The huge sun will be worn by Groovy Su who has not missed a May Morning for 20 years.
Early performances include local musicians the Horns of Plenty and the Hurly Burly Whirly Early-in-the-Morning Band along with Morris dancers performing in Radcliffe Square, Catte Street, Broad Street and Oxford Castle.
Dozens of pubs and bars will be keeping their doors open throughout the night on Saturday 30 April and the morning of Sunday 1 May as an expected 15,000 people attend the annual celebrations in the city centre.
Officers will also be enforcing the licence conditions allowing bars to extend their opening hours.
City Centre Inspector Matt Bullivant said:
“Our officers will be out early on Saturday night to greet people getting ready to enjoy the night. They will provide a visible presence throughout the evening and into the morning, so they can deal with any disorder quickly and robustly. Anyone found causing trouble, or that we consider too drunk, can expect to have their evening cut short. We will also have a team of Specials supporting our efforts and adding to our presence on the streets.”
This year hundreds of bottles of water will be handed out as the chorists start singing at 6am in Magdelan Collge.
Oxford Commander Superintendent Amanda Pearson, told Heart:
“We will be offering people free water because it helps slow their consumption of alcohol. It also allows officers the chance to engage with people who may have had a little too much to drink in a non-confrontational way. It has worked well in previous operations involving the night-time economy in Oxford and I am confident it will be successful again this time.”
Karen Crossan, NightSafe Manager, said:
“We want people to come out and enjoy this vibrant and unique occasion which is such a part of Oxford city life. We know the majority of people behave exceptionally at this event. Those who feel the urge to deviate from such good standards of behaviour will be excluded from the event by the appropriate use of Section 27 notices or via conventional policing powers and legislation.”