SAFETY measures including a one-way flow system and designated viewing areas will be put in place for May Morning to avoid a repeat of last year's 'crush'.

A new crowd management system will be introduced at the 500-year-old traditional celebrations next month following a review into the crowd surge that caused distress for revellers a year ago.

One-way channels will be created on the bridge to ensure the crowd keeps moving and stewards and signs will be in place to direct people to designated viewing areas.

The city council's cultural development manager, Paula Redway, 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.

"Magdalen Bridge will look different during this year's event, with signs, barriers and stewards directing people to keep the crowd flowing on the bridge.

She added: "We ask that those wishing to attend make themselves aware of the new plans and follow instructions on the day."

Oxford City Council apologised immediately after the event and following a review of CCTV found that those leaving the bridge towards East Oxford encountered an 'unusually high number' of people coming into the city, creating an 'impasse'.

Revellers told the Oxford Mail several people had panic attacks and were being pushed for around 15 minutes.

Last year's record crowd of 27,000 is not likely to be matched until May Morning falls on a weekend but the council said it wanted to introduce the measures in preparation for the years ahead.

Around 8,000 are still expected to gather at 6am to hear choristers perform the Hymnus Eucharisticus from the top of Magdalen Tower and it is hoped the new system will avoid a repeat of last year's trouble.

Wheelchair users, families with young children and those with buggies will have a designated viewing area for the first time in the event's history - in the Magdalen College School car park and in Rose Lane off High Street.

For the first time bicycles - ridden and pushed - will be banned from the bridge during the event.

The Oxford City Morris Men, who dance through the streets of Oxford every year, backed the new proposals and said it wouldn't detract from their enjoyment or spectator's enjoyment of the day.

The side's Bagman (secretary) Duncan Drummond said: "I don't think the changes will make much difference to the overall event, as long as they are keeping the bridge itself open.

"We haven't heard of anyone concerned about the changes.

He added: "It's such a special event for some many people - it's very popular - and in terms of morris dancing we get people coming from all over to perform.

"With the various sides there will probably be more than 100 dancers in total."

The group don't dance on Magdalen Bridge itself on the day but instead congregate in Rose Lane and perform in Radcliffe Square, under the Bridge of Sighs and Broad Street.