A HISTORIC gavel is set to give Banbury mayor Tony Ilott some extra clout after being returned after a 39-year absence.

Council leader Kieron Mallon has tracked down the wooden hammer and block after it was lost in a local government shake-up in the 1970s.

It was given to the former Banbury Borough Council in 1962 by ex-borough surveyor Sidney Hilton on behalf of the Banbury branch of the National Association of Local Government Officers. It then passed to Cherwell District Council when it was formed as part of the national reorganisation of local government in 1974 to take over services for the town.

The gavel was discovered locked away in the district council’s offices at Bodicote House, Banbury, and was returned to the town council last week.

Mr Mallon said: “I took possession of it and returned it to its rightful place.”