A rising sun, a dancing ox and Chinese dragons will help celebrate May Morning in East Oxford this year.

The bridge has controversially been closed in the early hours of May Morning for the past three years to stop people jumping into the River Cherwell below.

And plans are under way to spread the city’s traditional May Morning celebrations east of Magdalen Bridge.

Campaigners have decided to continue lobbying to keep the bridge open – but make sure there is something for the east of the city to celebrate at the same time.

Nuala Young, who represents St Clement’s ward on Oxford City Council, said: “It is quite clear there is a lot of backing for it.

“We want to have a theme of the East and, with the sun rising from the East, we were thinking of having a large sun which we would pull up after the singing.”

She pointed out that St Clement’s Church, now in Marston Road, used to be at the Plain and was originally the location for the singing of the Hymnus Eucharistus, now sung by choristers from Magdalen College tower.

It is planned to sing the hymn at the old church site after the Magdalen College choir has finished, then have the ‘sun’ coming up accompanied by an ox, marking the Chinese year of the Ox, possibly along with dancing dragons created by the area’s Chinese community.

A tug of war, maypole, and morris dancing will also take place.

The council’s east area parliament has agreed to fund an independent expert to assess the risk of leaving the bridge open, to try to put pressure on the joint police, city and county council committee formed to decide on safety arrangements to change its decision.

Max Mason, owner of the Big Bang Restaurant in Jericho, who was at a meeting called to discuss the East Oxford celebrations, is keen for efforts to continue for the bridge to be open throughout the festivities.

He said: “I think the effect of May Day, if organised properly, can spread through the whole of Oxford, not just the east but all parts of the city.”

Ian Nolan, who organised the last two Cowley Road Carnivals, Oxfordshire’s biggest free public event, was also positive about the celebrations.

He said: “It is really exciting that people are starting to talk together and work together to try and make something happen.”

He said he would be keen for activities around the Plain to be based around the traditions of May Morning — such as maypoles and morris.