09/02/2017 South Today - Oxford


09/02/2017

The latest news, sport, weather and features from Oxfordshire and the surrounding region.


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Welcome to South Today. coverage for you online and on

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Coming up: What's the key to getting people on board?

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How bus passenger numbers have risen in the Thames Valley -

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Also: nothing left to cut in their schools -

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the teachers warning some lessons may have to go - and classes

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And 11,000 operations - Oxford's pioneering heart surgeon

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Steve Westaby on how it feels to save a life -

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The number of people using bus services in Oxford,

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Reading and Milton Keynes has grown in the last six years -

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despite an overall decline nationally.

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That's according to a new report by public transport

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It found, in Oxford, bus use increased by 12%.

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In Milton Keynes it was up by 15 percent...and in Reading

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the number was even higher - at 17%.

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The hustle and bustle of Oxford's bus network.

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One in five of us now uses the bus to get to work in the city.

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I get the bus, because it's a damn good bus service, actually.

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And what do you like about getting the bus?

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If I could drive and park into Oxford, I would be

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much happier with that, but I won't pay parking

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Somebody drives you there rather than you having to walk and its dry

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And if it's busy now, it's set to get even busier.

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Oxford is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.

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You've got two very good operators that compete against each other.

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We serve to raise each other's standards, because we are always

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watching with the other one is doing.

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Making sure we are keeping the investment going.

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And also, we have had the right policy in place from local

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Government to make sure that bus travel is prioritised.

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Oxford is not the only place that is investing

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Reading for instance has the third highest level of bus passengers

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Even Milton Keynes, a town traditionally designed

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Last year it received Government funding to bring

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In Oxford, there are plans for extra park and ride sites,

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bus priority on the roads, and even a zero

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But rural areas outside the city centre have suffered.

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Last year, transport bosses ended all bus subsidies in the county

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And what about people who can't catch the bus?

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Well, I do accept that at inconvenient hours,

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like early morning and late evening, the bus service is less

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than it is during the middle of the day, but we do

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try to encourage the bus operators to actually put

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The challenge for the council, it seems, is balancing the pressures

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to be greener with the service that is both reliable

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Headteachers in Oxfordshire say they're running out

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They're now warning the number of lessons could be reduced -

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Nearly half of the county's schools are due to lose money

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under a planned shake up of education funding.

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All 35 secondary schools in Oxfordshire have now

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Our political reporter Bethan Phillips has the story:

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With its new funding formula, the Government promised to tackle

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And as a county that's been poorly funded in the past,

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hopes were raised that Oxfordshire would be a big winner.

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But critics have described the reality as horrendous,

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with nearly half of schools in the county actually

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facing a budget reduction if the change goes ahead.

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Headteachers say they're simply running out of things to cut.

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We are absolutely at the bottom now and there is nowhere else to cut

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without seriously damaging provisions.

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Reasonable sized classes, the 25 hour week curriculum offer,

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those are now the sorts of things that are under threat

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Even schools set to gain under the new system say overall

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Analysis from the National Audit Office says rising pupil numbers

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will mean schools generally see their budgets shrink by eight%

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Headteachers in Oxfordshire claim the government's new formula

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will particularly hit the core funding they get for each child.

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They say they're going to lose more than ?400 for every 11

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A letter's been sent to MPs, warning them about the problem -

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some have already promised to take the issue further.

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Well, it is important to bear in mind that an MP I can bring

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pressure on Government to make sure that the funding is fair

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and it is precisely what I'm doing and what I should be doing Monday

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A new Oxford Brookes University campus has officially

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Nursing students have been using new facilities

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at the Delta Business Park site since last Summer.

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The man the building is named after, Joel Joffee, was at today's event.

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The former human rights lawyer is from Swindon.

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It was a mixture of pride and feeling privileged,

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but rather embarrassed, because I'm just an ordinary person.

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I consider myself rather average and so I was surprised,

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Blenheim Palace has been given charity status.

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It means the 18th century stately home - which was the birth place

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of Sir Winston Churchill - will be able to claim back

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income tax on donations and apply for grants.

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The extra money means more restoration and conservation

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He's performed more than 11 thousand heart operations

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Professor Steve Westaby, who's now retired from

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the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, is one of the most

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He's written a book about his career and the patient's whose

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I spoke to him earlier and he told me what being

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It is saws and sharp instruments, but we do a lot of good.

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You save a lot of lives, we make a lot of patients feel very

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much better and it's a very satisfactory job to do.

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Your book is called Fragile Lives, how does it feel to save a life?

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Because a lot of the people you're trying to save are very high-risk

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I've had very many very high risk patients in my career and of course,

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it's always a privilege to operate on s patient and save a life.

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It's important not to get involved with that patient emotionally before

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you do save their lives because some of them

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You were the first surgeon to fit a patient with a new type

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of artificial heart, back in the 2000.

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How high risk did it feel to do that?

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Well, when Peter Houghton walked into my office, I described him

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He was within weeks of dying and had been turned down for transplantation

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The first time he was too well and the second time,

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So, he had given up on life and I had this small device,

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the size of my thumb, called the Jarvik 2000

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Instead of living three or four more weeks of misery,

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And then died of something completely different.

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Out of all the 11,000 operations you've done, does one standout

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for you because it was either very, very difficult or because you made

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an emotional connection with that patient?

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I used to love operating on babies and children and there was one case

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that came so close tonight getting through that you could

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I was in a hotel in Sydney having just gone to bed after literally

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to a baby who was dying from heart failure at the age of five months.

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And that they be had been having heart attacks at that age,

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because her main coronary artery came off the artery to the lungs.

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I designed a new operation for the problem, because existing

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operations weren't very satisfactory.

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Did that operation with the film cameras running and then couldn't

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And after two hours of struggling, and a very depressed team

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in the operating theatre, I went out to tell the parents

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that I thought the baby had gone, had died.

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And there was such a miserable response from the mother -

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you can imagine telling a mother she's going to lose a baby -

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that I turned my heels and went back into the operating theatre and did

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something absolutely ridiculous, chopped a third of the circumference

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of the heart out to make it smaller and deputy stitch in

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Cut a long story short, she survived and is now 18.

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This summer will see the final Cornbury music festival -

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Sophie Ellis Bexter and Jools Holland.

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The festival is held on the Great Tew Estate

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The weather forecast is next - and its looking very cold tomorrow.

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A cold wind taking the edge of temperatures.

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Showers likely in eastern parts drifting into Oxford.

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Saturday, cold, temperatures struggle.

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sleet and snow. The outlook, Sunday will turn a bit less cold again. All

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the way up seven Celsius. At this time of year we can often

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get the weather stories

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