A MUSIC festival that was at the centre of a fierce row between organisers and Witney Town Council will return bigger and better than ever in 2018.

Witney Music Festival, which sees thousands of revellers flock to the centre of the town each year, will return with an extended main event and a BBC Music Introducing stage.

The new and improved event follows troubles in June, when the festival was overshadowed by a row between the council and organisers after the authority introduced a range of new restrictions.

Chairman of the festival, Eric Marshall, said: “We were blown away by the success of last year’s festival where we have shown how the community can come together and have fun celebrating the abundance of musical talent there is here in Witney – and the likes of From The Jam, Dr and The Medics and The Undertones – safely and completely without incident.

“In 2017 we had our challenges, which were well reported in the Oxford Mail, that distracted our attention from the festival somewhat.

“However, these challenges have enabled us to find some common ground, and as we plan for 2018 we are looking to make next year’s event bigger and better than ever before with the strong involvement of Witney Town Council.”

The traditional two-week festival in venues around the town will run from May 25 to June 9, which will culminate with a finale event in the Corn Exchange, in Market Square.

But in a big change to this year’s festival the main open-air event on The Leys will take place in August, to avoid clashing with repairs to The Leys planned by the town council, which owns the land.

The main event, starting on Friday, August 17, will run over two days, in response to its soaring success over recent years.

Organisers have also announced the inclusion of a BBC Music Introducing stage on the Saturday, which will showcase the best unsigned acts in the area.

In the run-up to the 2017 Witney Music Festival, the town council issued a statement confirming changes it had made to timings of The Leys event on Saturday, June 10.

Though the event’s after party was scheduled to conclude at 2am the next morning, the council said the funfair must finish at 10pm, live music on the stage must finish at 11pm and the whole site must be vacated by 12.30am.

In 2016the funfair ran until 11pm and the after party until 1am.

The council said the changes were made as a result of concerns raised by residents.

It claimed there were worries about noise as well as the condition of the surface of the The Leys.

After the event, organisers discovered the council had had cameras hidden in trees on The Leys for its duration.

Town councillor Peter Doward said: “The music festival is not just a big party but a chance to try to showcase the talent that we have.

“I support the festival and there are a handful of equally enthusiastic councillors, but not everyone sees it the same way.

“It’s up to us as councillors to convince others that this is for the greater good and that it will be run properly and that restrictions in the terms and conditions are followed.”

This will be the 12th year, with full details to be released soon.