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Welcome to South Today. coverage for you online and on
Coming up: What's the key to getting people on board?
How bus passenger numbers have risen in the Thames Valley -
Also: nothing left to cut in their schools -
the teachers warning some lessons may have to go - and classes
And 11,000 operations - Oxford's pioneering heart surgeon
Steve Westaby on how it feels to save a life -
The number of people using bus services in Oxford,
Reading and Milton Keynes has grown in the last six years -
despite an overall decline nationally.
That's according to a new report by public transport
It found, in Oxford, bus use increased by 12%.
In Milton Keynes it was up by 15 percent...and in Reading
the number was even higher - at 17%.
The hustle and bustle of Oxford's bus network.
One in five of us now uses the bus to get to work in the city.
I get the bus, because it's a damn good bus service, actually.
And what do you like about getting the bus?
If I could drive and park into Oxford, I would be
much happier with that, but I won't pay parking
Somebody drives you there rather than you having to walk and its dry
And if it's busy now, it's set to get even busier.
Oxford is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.
You've got two very good operators that compete against each other.
We serve to raise each other's standards, because we are always
watching with the other one is doing.
Making sure we are keeping the investment going.
And also, we have had the right policy in place from local
Government to make sure that bus travel is prioritised.
Oxford is not the only place that is investing
Reading for instance has the third highest level of bus passengers
Even Milton Keynes, a town traditionally designed
Last year it received Government funding to bring
In Oxford, there are plans for extra park and ride sites,
bus priority on the roads, and even a zero
But rural areas outside the city centre have suffered.
Last year, transport bosses ended all bus subsidies in the county
And what about people who can't catch the bus?
Well, I do accept that at inconvenient hours,
like early morning and late evening, the bus service is less
than it is during the middle of the day, but we do
try to encourage the bus operators to actually put
The challenge for the council, it seems, is balancing the pressures
to be greener with the service that is both reliable
Headteachers in Oxfordshire say they're running out
They're now warning the number of lessons could be reduced -
Nearly half of the county's schools are due to lose money
under a planned shake up of education funding.
All 35 secondary schools in Oxfordshire have now
Our political reporter Bethan Phillips has the story:
With its new funding formula, the Government promised to tackle
And as a county that's been poorly funded in the past,
hopes were raised that Oxfordshire would be a big winner.
But critics have described the reality as horrendous,
with nearly half of schools in the county actually
facing a budget reduction if the change goes ahead.
Headteachers say they're simply running out of things to cut.
We are absolutely at the bottom now and there is nowhere else to cut
without seriously damaging provisions.
Reasonable sized classes, the 25 hour week curriculum offer,
those are now the sorts of things that are under threat
Even schools set to gain under the new system say overall
Analysis from the National Audit Office says rising pupil numbers
will mean schools generally see their budgets shrink by eight%
Headteachers in Oxfordshire claim the government's new formula
will particularly hit the core funding they get for each child.
They say they're going to lose more than ?400 for every 11
A letter's been sent to MPs, warning them about the problem -
some have already promised to take the issue further.
Well, it is important to bear in mind that an MP I can bring
pressure on Government to make sure that the funding is fair
and it is precisely what I'm doing and what I should be doing Monday
A new Oxford Brookes University campus has officially
Nursing students have been using new facilities
at the Delta Business Park site since last Summer.
The man the building is named after, Joel Joffee, was at today's event.
The former human rights lawyer is from Swindon.
It was a mixture of pride and feeling privileged,
but rather embarrassed, because I'm just an ordinary person.
I consider myself rather average and so I was surprised,
Blenheim Palace has been given charity status.
It means the 18th century stately home - which was the birth place
of Sir Winston Churchill - will be able to claim back
income tax on donations and apply for grants.
The extra money means more restoration and conservation
He's performed more than 11 thousand heart operations
Professor Steve Westaby, who's now retired from
the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, is one of the most
He's written a book about his career and the patient's whose
I spoke to him earlier and he told me what being
It is saws and sharp instruments, but we do a lot of good.
You save a lot of lives, we make a lot of patients feel very
much better and it's a very satisfactory job to do.
Your book is called Fragile Lives, how does it feel to save a life?
Because a lot of the people you're trying to save are very high-risk
I've had very many very high risk patients in my career and of course,
it's always a privilege to operate on s patient and save a life.
It's important not to get involved with that patient emotionally before
you do save their lives because some of them
You were the first surgeon to fit a patient with a new type
of artificial heart, back in the 2000.
How high risk did it feel to do that?
Well, when Peter Houghton walked into my office, I described him
He was within weeks of dying and had been turned down for transplantation
The first time he was too well and the second time,
So, he had given up on life and I had this small device,
the size of my thumb, called the Jarvik 2000
Instead of living three or four more weeks of misery,
And then died of something completely different.
Out of all the 11,000 operations you've done, does one standout
for you because it was either very, very difficult or because you made
an emotional connection with that patient?
I used to love operating on babies and children and there was one case
that came so close tonight getting through that you could
I was in a hotel in Sydney having just gone to bed after literally
to a baby who was dying from heart failure at the age of five months.
And that they be had been having heart attacks at that age,
because her main coronary artery came off the artery to the lungs.
I designed a new operation for the problem, because existing
operations weren't very satisfactory.
Did that operation with the film cameras running and then couldn't
And after two hours of struggling, and a very depressed team
in the operating theatre, I went out to tell the parents
that I thought the baby had gone, had died.
And there was such a miserable response from the mother -
you can imagine telling a mother she's going to lose a baby -
that I turned my heels and went back into the operating theatre and did
something absolutely ridiculous, chopped a third of the circumference
of the heart out to make it smaller and deputy stitch in
Cut a long story short, she survived and is now 18.
This summer will see the final Cornbury music festival -
Sophie Ellis Bexter and Jools Holland.
The festival is held on the Great Tew Estate
The weather forecast is next - and its looking very cold tomorrow.
A cold wind taking the edge of temperatures.
Showers likely in eastern parts drifting into Oxford.
Saturday, cold, temperatures struggle.
sleet and snow. The outlook, Sunday will turn a bit less cold again. All
the way up seven Celsius. At this time of year we can often
get the weather stories