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Summary

  1. Decision to close West Berkshire libraries to be made by parish councils
  2. Widespread travel disruption expected ahead of Christmas getaway
  3. Weather latest: Storm Barbara moving in
  4. Updates from Friday 23 December

Live Reporting

By Toby Wadey and Rob England

All times stated are UK

That's all for today!

Rob England

BBC South

Thank you for joining us again today on Berkshire's Local Live service. 

We'll be back on Wednesday for all your latest news, travel, weather and sport.

Stay in touch via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Safe travels, and happy holidays.   

Reading MP "unimpressed" with reasons given for closure of hydrotherapy pool

Reading East MP Rob Wilson has spoken out about the decision to close of the Royal Berkshire Hospital's hydrotherapy pool.

The closure, to come into effect from 31st March 2017, was announced by Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust in November.

After meeting with the hospital's senior management, Reading East MP Rob Wilson said the trust "did not provide any robust evidence or proper explanation as to why it has taken this decision." 

Mr Wilson also criticised the lack of consultation with "patients, local charities or support groups" and said there had not been any consideration for "alternative provision for service-users."

The trust decided to discontinue their hydrotherapy service as it wasn't "cost effective" and benefited less than 5% of patients requiring physiotherapy.

Head of Therapies, Jill Gillespie-Shahabi, said: “We know that this service is enjoyed by a small number of users, but equally, we have to make difficult decisions that demonstrate the best use of NHS facilities and money."     

Reading East MP Rob Wilson
BBC

Update: Goring Lane crash

Police have released further details following a road traffic collision yesterday in which two people were seriously injured.

At around 05:45 GMT, Thursday 22 December, a red Peugeot 306 and a grey Peugeot 5008 collided on Goring Lane in Reading, between Lockram Lane and Man's Hill. 

Both drivers had to be cut from their vehicles, and are currently being treated in hospital.

Thames Valley Police are appealing for witnesses.

Reading v Norwich City: Match facts

High-flying Reading are at home to 10th place Norwich on Boxing Day. 

Here are some vital stats: 

  • Reading have won their last two league matches against Norwich 2-1, this after failing to win the previous four
  • Reading have won three and drawn three of their last six home games played on Boxing Day
  • Reading's Ali Al Habsi has made the most saves of any goalkeeper in the Championship this season (90)

Read a full preview here

Man pretending to be a police officer gains entry to a property in Slough

A man pretending to be a police officer has gained entry to and searched an elderly woman's house in Slough.

At around 15:30 on Monday 19 December the offender approached the woman, claiming to be an officer investigating burglaries in the area, and searched the property whilst she made him a cup of tea. Nothing was taken. 

He is described as white, in his 30s and around 6ft 2 tall. 

The man was also carrying a notebook and wearing a black tunic with numbers on the shoulders.

Thames Valley Police are appealing to anyone who may have seen the man, and also encourage people to read their guidelines on rogue traders.

'Mercilessly exploited' - Union blasts train company as cleaners strike

A union boss claims contract cleaners on the Great Western Railway are being "mercilessly exploited". 

The dispute, which involves almost 200 workers, began at 06:00 today. 

Train
GWR
GWR said it is aware of the action by one of its contractors but added it would not impact on rail services

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union are calling for the cleaners, who work for agency Servest UK, to be made permanent GWR staff. 

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: "GWR and Servest UK can bring an immediate resolution to this dispute by addressing the issues over pay and other grievances."

Train

Train cleaners in second 24-hour strike

A second 24-hour strike by contract cleaners on the Great Western Railway is under way.

Read more

Travel: Accident on the M4, slow on the M25, minor delays on trains through Reading

  • One lane has been blocked due to an accident between two vehicles on the M4 westbound between J8/9 for Maidenhead, and J10/A329 at Wokingham and Bracknell.
  • Be prepared for the strong wind on the motorways with Storm Barbara, bound to cause all sorts of problems tonight particularly if you're travelling tonight.
  • Queuing traffic due to earlier accident on the hard shoulder on the M25 anticlockwise at J12 for the M3, with congestion to J13 A30 at Staines. All lanes have been re-opened.
  • There are some minor delays on the trains to and from Reading Station, but don't forget lines in and out of Paddington will be closed from tonight while they start the major engineering works.

Severe accident: M4 Berkshire westbound

BBC Travel

M4 Berkshire westbound severe accident, between J8 for and J10 for A329.

M4 Berkshire - One lane blocked on M4 westbound between J8 and J10 A329(M) Wokingham, because of an accident involving two vehicles.

Check local traffic and travel reports for:

London Irish: Topsy Ojo returns

Jack Winstanley

BBC Berkshire Sport Reporter

London Irish's "wing wizard" Topsy Ojo is returning to the side to face Richmond tomorrow.

The Championship game on Christmas Eve will be his first start since the league win over Cornish Pirates in November.

It is the Exiles first championship game since the 3rd December after two wins in the British and Irish Cup against Cornish Pirates.

Topsy Ojo of London Irish
Khachfe/JMP/REX/Shutterstock

Woman 'can spend Christmas at home' after contempt claims

A woman accused of breaching a family court order, has been told she can spend Christmas at home.

She could still face a jail sentence in the New Year after she named her teenage daughter when being interviewed by a Polish journalist in Polish.

At a hearing in Reading today, the woman, from near Oxford, appeared before Judge Simon Oliver.

Former Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming
BBC
John Hemming

Social services bosses at Oxfordshire County Council had accused her of being in contempt of court by breaching an order and had asked for her to be committed to prison.

Former Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who campaigns for improvements in the family justice system, described the timing of the court appearance is cruel, and claimed it raises "free speech issues". 

Heavy traffic affecting bus routes on Oxford Road, Reading

Reading v Norwich City team news

Reading could have midfielder John Swift back from an ankle injury he picked up on England Under-21 duty.

Jaap Stam also has Danny Williams available following suspension for the red card he was shown in the 5-0 defeat by Fulham on 3 December.

Alex Neil
PA

Preview followed by live coverage of Boxing Day's Championship game between Reading and Norwich City.

Norwich have lost seven of their past nine games, and boss Alex Neil could recall Alex Tettey and Steven Naismith.

Winger Matt Jarvis is in line for a return to the squad, having missed six months with knee ligament damage.

Yann Kermogant (left) celebrates his first-half goal against Norwich

Reading 3-1 Norwich City

Third-placed Reading inflict an eighth defeat in 10 Championship games on Norwich to keep up the pressure on the top two.

Read more

Severe accident: A327 Berkshire both ways

BBC Travel

A327 Berkshire both ways severe accident, between B3350 Elm Road and Shinfield Rise.

A327 Berkshire - A327 Shinfield Road in Reading blocked in both directions between the B3350 Elm Road junction and the Shinfield Rise junction, because of a serious accident.

Check local traffic and travel reports for:

Heathrow-bound passengers enjoy 'once-in-a-lifetime' flight

Three British Airways passengers had a once-in-a-lifetime flight after finding they were the only ones on board.

Lawrie-Lin Waller, 33, said she and her friends were upgraded to business class, treated to bottles of champagne, and posed for selfies with the captain.

Sarah Hunt, Laura Stevens and Lawrie-Lin Waller
Laura Stevens
Lawrie-Lin Waller said she and her friends were upgraded to business class

And on their trip from Gibraltar to Heathrow on 17 December, her friends Laura Stevens, 34, and Sarah Hunt, 35, enjoyed three-course meals.

Ms Waller said: "We're never going to experience anything like that again."

A reminder for people travelling to London by train

Work being conducted on the new Crossrail will cause services to be disrupted until early January.

View more on twitter

Boy seriously injured in assault

Police have cordoned off a green space in a residential area after a 16-year-old boy was assaulted.

The force was called to reports of the victim being attacked and sustaining serious injuries to his armpit at around 20:56 GMT yesterday.

A 59-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident in Long Grove, Baughurst, on the Berkshire/Hampshire border.

The cordon remains in place. 

Chief executive to leave council

Patrick O'Hagan

BBC Berkshire political reporter

Nine years after taking on the top job at Slough Borough Council, chief executive Ruth Bagley's career at the authority is over. 

She had been on extended sick leave since the autumn.  

Ruth Bagley
Slough Borough Council
She had been on extended sick leave since the autumn

It's been clear since August that relations between the new team of councillors at the top of the authority and Ruth Bagley were frosty at best. 

The fact she's now lost her job is no surprise, nor is the fact we don't know how much money she's been given to leave the job - which those who know her well say she loved. 

Mother assaulted in Bracknell car park

A 41-year-old mother has been assaulted in a Bracknell car park whilst she was standing with her children.

She was approached by a man in the Lily Hill Car Park at about 14:20 GMT on Wednesday 21 December.

The offender has been described as short, white and wearing a blue tracksuit.

The woman sustained minor injuries which did not require hospital treatment.

Lilly Hill Car Park
BBC

Concerned about Christmas rubbish?

Reading Borough Council are advising that all your packaging, wrapping paper, greetings cards and plastic bottles can be put into the red recycling bins and boxes for collection this Christmas.   

View more on twitter

Train cleaners strike over agency contracts

Toby Wadey

BBC South

A second 24-hour strike by contract cleaners on the Great Western Railway is under way. 

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union employed by Servest UK began the industrial action at 06:00 GMT. 

A GWR train
GWR

The union claims agency workers should be made permanent GWR staff and that there is currently a "two tier" system. 

GWR said it was aware of the strike and that rail services were expected to run as scheduled.

Travel: A33 now fully reopen

Reading's Danny Williams excited about first team return

Tim Dellor

BBC Berkshire sport editor

Midfielder Danny Williams is looking forward to getting back to playing after his suspension.

He told BBC Radio Berkshire: "The fans are very, very important to us, and it feels like there is a twelfth man on the pitch.

"Norwich are underachieving a bit, but we all know they have a very good quality of squad, an experienced manager.

"It's a chance for us again to pick up three points, to keep that home run going, and to get a confidence boost.

"As long as we score one more than the opponent I am happy, but obviously it would be nice to keep clean sheets as well."

More than 220,000 passengers expected at Heathrow

Toby Wadey

BBC South

About 223,000 people will depart from and arrive at Heathrow Airport today, compared with about 200,000 on a normal day.  

Heathrow arrivals and departures
BBC

Heathrow has already had its busiest day in the build-up to Christmas - last Tuesday when 235,000 passengers came and went. 

Paddington set to close later tonight

Major engineering work means all lines to Paddington station will close later tonight.

The last direct train is scheduled to leave Reading at 00:44. 

After that, commuters will have to change at Ealing Broadway. 

View more on twitter

Reading boss: 'We're not scared'

Tim Dellor

BBC Berkshire sport editor

Reading FC manager Jaap Stam says that Norwich will provide a tough test on Boxing Day.

He told BBC Radio Berkshire: "The only difference between Norwich and Reading is about £100m in the budget.

"They've got quality players, because a lot of players are still there who played in the Premier League last season.

"We're not scared, we're going to try and play our own game and see how it ends up.

"There's a lot of things going on in the paper as well about money being offered for players, I can tell you that's absolute rubbish."

Slough still yet to take any Syrian refugees

Despite a government target to resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees across the UK, Slough has yet to take in a single one. 

More than 4,000 have arrived so far in the UK and just 36 have been resettled in Berkshire.

Homs, Syria
EPA
Just 36 Syrian refugess have been resettled in Berkshire

The figures have emerged after the Syrian army said it had retaken full control of Aleppo, following the evacuation of the last group of rebels.  

Travel: A33 hoped to reopen by 10am

Library closure decisions to be made by parish councils

Patrick O'Hagan

BBC Berkshire political reporter

The future of West Berkshire's libraries will be decided by parish councils. 

Eight of the area's libraries are at threat and the authority says their survival will depend on whether local communities are prepared to pay for them.

Cash-strapped West Berkshire has been looking at whether it can keep its libraries open for months now.

Hungerford Library
Basher Eyre
Hungerford Library is one of the facilities at risk

It's just published a survey looking into what can be done to save them, and has concluded their future will come down to whether or not smaller parish councils are willing to pay for them. 

We'll now have to wait and see whether the area's parish councils will ask the people who live in their communities if they'll be willing to see a small fee added to their council tax bills to keep their libraries going.

Travel update: A33 shut after crash

The A33 is closed both ways at Chineham after a five-vehicle crash. 

Police were called at 06:35 and are expecting the road to be closed until at least 09:30. 

A force spokesman said one male driver has been taken to hospital with serious injuries. 

View more on twitter

Weather outlook: Storm Barbara to bring heavy rain

It will remain dry for much of the day, but towards the evening heavy rain and gusty winds are expected to develop with the arrival of Storm Barbara. 

BBC South weather 23 December

Berkshire's morning headlines

Sam Clayton

BBC Radio Berkshire newsreader

  • The future of eight under-threat libraries in West Berkshire will be decided by parish councils
  • There is expected to be widespread disruption on the roads later for the Christmas rush
  • A planned strike by British Airways cabin crew on Christmas Day and Boxing Day has been suspended
  • Presents are being delivered to elderly patients at the Royal Berkshire Hospital at 10:00 today 

Driving home for Christmas? If yes, brace yourself

Toby Wadey

BBC South

Around 12 million motorists are expected to be driving 20 miles or more today as they head home for Christmas. 

And according to traffic information company Inrix, some journeys may take twice or even three times as long compared with other times of the year.  

Read more here.

Cars on the motorway
Thinkstock
Some journeys may take twice or even three times as long

Good morning

Toby Wadey

BBC South

Good morning and welcome to the BBC's Local Live service for Berkshire.

We will be bringing you all of the Royal County's latest news, travel, weather and sport until 18:00. 

You can also stay in touch via our Facebook and Twitter pages.