MAY Day revellers will be faced with barricades and road closures for the third year in a row to stop them jumping into the River Cherwell.

However, police and Oxfordshire County Council have decided to shorten the closure of Magdalen Bridge by 90 minutes, to reduce disruption to businesses and motorists.

The ring of steel being around Magdalen Bridge for May morning next Thursday has been branded a waste of public money by one councillor, who suggested putting nets up to deter the revellers.

Barriers and road closures have been put in place after at least 100 people leapt into the water from Magdalen Bridge in 2005. About 40 were injured.

Last year, three people jumped in while the security measures were being dismantled.

Last night, Green city councillor David Williams called for nets to be put up at the side of the bridge to catch jumpers - allowing Magdalen Bridge to stay open.

He added: "Closing the bridge and having all those police officers and council workers is a massive waste of public money. Surely a better way would be to buy some nets and put them on either side of the bridge.

"It would cost just a couple of thousand pounds and stop these halfwits from jumping in while keeping the bridge open for everyone else."

The bridge will be closed from 4-8.30am, as opposed to 3-9am last year, and police, stewards and paramedics will be at the scene.

Oxfordshire County Council's emergency planning officer John Kelly said no-one had jumped in the water when the barriers were in place.

He added: "One always plans for the worst and hopes for the best. But we cannot take into account people making strange decisions when we've withdrawn the support."

Chief Insp Chris Sharp, of Oxford police, said the cost of closing the bridge was less than the estimated £50,000 bill for the health services of treating the 40 injured people in 2005 - but would not give exact figures.

He said: "Keeping the bridge closed is the safest and most sensible option at this time.

"When you factor in the expense to the health services and concerns about public safety, keeping the bridge closed is the simplest and most sensible option."

Alison Brumfitt, spokesman for the South Central Ambulance Service, said crews would be on the scene.

Some cafes and bars planning to open early for May Day revellers backed calls to reopen the bridge.

Nick Kenny, manager at Coco's, in Cowley Road, said: "I don't think reducing the time the bridge is closed makes much difference.

"It's unfortunate it has to close, but if you act like children you get treated like children."

Charlie Kurean, manager of Tick Tock Cafe, said: "When the bridge is closed we lose a lot of trade."