OXFORD welcomed its 50th Lord Mayor into office at an open-air ceremony in the city centre yesterday.

Councillor John Goddard officially took office at the event in Bonn Square.

Oxford has had a Lord Mayor since 1962 but only in the past two years has the confirmation ceremony been held in public.

Mr Goddard, a grandfather of five from Wolvercote, succeeds outgoing mayor Mary Clarkson.

Quarry and Risinghurst councillor Dee Sinclair is the new Deputy Lord Mayor and Jericho & Osney councillor Colin Cook has become the Sheriff of Oxford.

Liberal Democrat Mr Goddard, a former civil servant and teacher, has represented the Wolvercote ward on the council since 1998.

Mr Goddard said: “It’s a proud day for me.

“What all Lord Mayors do is say thank you to the citizens of the city who go well beyond the call of duty — I’m saying thank you on behalf of us all.

“Lord Mayors are not outdated. Some people think all the dressing-up is pompous and outdated, but it’s important the city says thank you to all sorts of people and to dress up like this makes it seem like it’s not just me, but the city as well, who are saying thank you.”

Council leader Bob Price, who was Lord Mayor five years ago, said: “Everyone who has been Lord Mayor knows what it symbolises to the people of the city and the community, and recognising that it is a community.

“When you’re Lord Mayor, you realise what a fantastic city it is and how many wonderful voluntary and community groups we have.”

Speaking about the decision to hold the robing ceremony in public, he added: “We realised that what was rather concerning about the ceremony was that it was very much for invited guests and the city as a whole didn’t get to have a chance to see it or take part in the event.

“They can now see the Lord Mayor from the very start of their time in the position.”

The Bonner Stadtsoldaten dancers – from Oxford’s German twin city of Bonn – entertained the crowd in Bonn Square before a number of events took place at Oxford Castle, including jugglers, African drummers, birds of prey and crafts.

Mr Goddard’s chosen charity for the year will be the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance.