THE SHEEP have been scrubbed, the clock has been cleaned and Bicester's town centre has been given a good spruce-up as volunteers tackled a town centre blitz.

Deputy mayor Sean Gaul hosted a the clean-up on Tuesday, with the help of Bicester Town Council and Cherwell District Council, plus about 50 volunteers.

It comes as part of a pledge from the deputy mayor to support the town centre and its traders.

The event saw a host of people get stuck in and roll up their sleeves to tackle litter, graffiti, overgrown plants and tired paintwork.

Mr Gaul said: "About 50 people approached me on Facebook to help out with the blitz which was just phenomenal.

"The clock has been painted, the notice boards and part way to being replaced, the sheep have been scrubbed and the concrete flower beds have been cleared of moss and it all looks great."

The Bicester Town Centre Blitz comes as a pledge to plough support into the town centre ahead of a campaign to boost footfall for traders and the area.

Mr Gaul staged the clean-up ahead of next week's Mayor Making ceremony where he will be sworn in as mayor and hopes to launch a campaign to back Bicester's high street.

The campaign will be called See Bicester: Shop, Enjoy, Experience and will over the course of the year work to bring back a bit of life to the high street encourage both trade and new businesses.

Mr Gaul added: "We will be launching the campaign to drive footfall to Bicester's town centre and the blitz was suggested to me from a number of retailers in the town centre.

"It makes a lot of sense.

"Staff from Cherwell District Council, Bicester Town Council and volunteers all drew a line in the sand and showed so many people care about our town centre.

"We will keep chipping away at the issues and the blitz was just a way to give this whole campaign meaning."

Bicester's high street has for a long time continued to fall victim to high rental costs as well as the shift to online shopping.

Several long-standing businesses have closed their doors and moved on over recent years including Henry's menswear which had been in Sheep Street for decades.

Joining them in closing their doors was The Edinburgh Woollen Mill and the Bicester Party Shop.

The high street has however also welcomed a number of new businesses in recent months, most recently welcoming Warrens Bakery which has reported a successful first few weeks.

Mr Gaul hopes to build on these recent success stories from new businesses and support those long-standing shops who continue to thrive in Bicester's town centre.

The hope is to also help encourage other traders into the many empty units.