New crowd management system for Oxford’s May morning

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Oxford City Council has implemented a new crowd management system at this year’s May morning celebrations to keep thousands of people safe following crowd safety issues at last year’s event.

May Morning sees thousands of people line Oxford’s High Street and Magdalen Bridge at 6am on May 1 to watch choristers sing from atop Magdalen College’s Great Tower.

The new crowd management system saw one-way channels created on Magdalen Bridge to enable the crowd to flow during and immediately after the event.

If capacity is reached on Magdalen Bridge, stewards and barriers will be used to stop any more people from accessing the bridge from the west and east. For the first time, bicycles – including those ridden and pushed –will not be allowed to cross Magdalen Bridge during the event.

Furthermore, designated viewing areas for wheelchair and mobility scooter users, families with young children and those with buggies will be also available for the first time.

Last year, immediately after the event finished, those wishing to leave towards East Oxford encountered an unusually high number of people wanting to come into the city from the Plain Roundabout, and an impasse ensued on Magdalen Bridge. The aim of the new crowd management plan was to ensure that it did not happen again.

Oxford City Council has engaged Ian Nolan Events to assist with the organisation of the event and its safe delivery, including the new crowd management plan.

Last year’s event, which took place at the end of a Bank Holiday weekend, saw record-breaking crowds of 27,000 people attend.

The event has been taking place for more than 500 years.

Paula Redway, Oxford City Council’s cultural development manager, said: “We take crowd safety incredibly seriously and, following last year’s May Morning, the City Council and event partners have been working hard to make sure that the crowd problems are not repeated.”

Image: Ian Nolan Events