The new mayor of Woodstock is returning to the office 50 years after he first served in the role as he wants to "liven up" the council.

John Banbury, aged 87, was first mayor of the town in 1972, aged 35.

He had been on Woodstock Town Council since 1968 and also served as a county councillor until he left in 1997 aged 60.

He only decided to put himself forward for mayor "two or three weeks" before the election.

John Banbury and helpers at the Hensington House Memorial Garden (Image: John Banbury)

He said: "I could see that the Woodstock Town Council did not seem to be functioning very well and as an experienced councillor I thought it might be an idea to liven it up again."

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Woodstock Town Council has experienced a turbulent few months.

In April two unnamed town councillors appeared before West Oxfordshire District Council's standards committee for allegedly breaching the council's code of conduct.

The month before the then mayor Nick Manby-Brown had to use his own cash for the authority's Christmas gifts after concerns were raised about using taxpayers' money.

And at the town council annual general meeting (AGM) Mr Manby-Brown accused councillors of being so focused on opposing housing development they forgot to negotiate developer contributions which pay for the infrastructure.

Meanwhile Conservative councillor Sharone Parnes said he felt 'intimidated' by some colleagues and said the council operated like 'a street gang'.

Mr Banbury said: "There was a lot of hard feeling, I think, between personalities on the council, a lot of frustration in some ways and I think it really needed shaking up.

"People may criticise me for saying that but I think what is important is not to look back at what’s gone before but look forward."

Mr Banbury, a gardens and landscaping specialist, redesigned and laid out the Hensington House Memorial Garden and chaired the Friends of the Oxfordshire Museum for 17 years on and off. 

He said he has seen "a great deal of change" over the years.

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"There has been a great number of shops and businesses that have closed," he said.

"I think the paid for parking has put to an end to several businesses in Woodstock and that only came in in the last two years.

"I certainly don’t support it although a lot of people say it’s a good thing for Woodstock.

"But if you come to Woodstock there are many fewer people walking around, and fewer people using the shops.

"The restaurants as well are suffering from this. 

"It’s really difficult for shopkeepers to make a profit these days and when they have restrictions put on them like the paid for parking and that type of thing it doesn’t help trade.

"I would like to encourage people to use the shops more."