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Summary

  1. Yellow weather warning as snow begins to fall on Oxfordshire
  2. Hunt continues for rapist after held man released without charge
  3. Steps taken to remove squatters
  4. Gymnastics club homeless after council planning u-turn
  5. Dead soldier to be repatriated at RAF Brize Norton

Live Reporting

By Anna Browning and Alex Regan

All times stated are UK

Good evening

Dave Gilyeat

BBC South

That's all for today. Stay warm tonight, and we'll be back tomorrow at 08:00 for more Local Live updates.

Additional gritting planned overnight

Flood Alert in place in Langford and Wendlebury

A Flood Alert has been issued for the Langford and Wendlebury Brooks, from Stratton Audley down to near Merton, down to the M40 near Merton, including Bicester and Wendlebury.

The Environment Agency said: "Flooding is possible this evening and overnight..  Low lying land and roads will be affected first... be prepared."

UK soldier's body repatriated

Rachael Lazaro

Reporter, BBC News Online

The body of a soldier who died as a result of an accidental shooting in Iraq has been flown back to the UK.

L/Cpl Scott Hetherington, 22, from Middleton, Greater Manchester, died at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, on 2 January

He served as a vehicle commander with the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment. 

L/Cpl Hetherington is the first UK soldier to die in Iraq in almost eight years.

L/Cpl Scott Hetherington
MOD

The repatriation took place at RAF Brize Norton

'Official snow' on Carfax Tower

Well, that seals it. It's officially snowing.

View more on twitter

Abingdon two-car collision blocks road

Thames Valley Police has told us the traffic collision in Abingdon involved two vehicles.

No injuries have been reported but it's causing disruption in the area due to the A415 Stratton Way being blocked.

It's snowing in the Chilterns

"Taken as light failing fast, and snow falling fast too," Angela Walters tells us.    

Snow in Chilterns
Angela Walters

Severe accident: A415 Oxfordshire both ways

BBC Travel

A415 Oxfordshire both ways severe accident, near B4017 Bath Street.

A415 Oxfordshire - A415 Stratton Way in Abingdon blocked and queuing traffic in both directions near the B4017 Bath Street junction, because of an accident.

Check local traffic and travel reports for:

Snow in Chinnor

It's definitely starting to look very festive in some parts of the county now.

Just 348 days till Christmas folks...

Snow in Chinnor
BBC

Difficult conditions on M40

Driving conditions look very tricky on the M40, if this picture by our producer Pete Bestwick is anything to go by.

Police have warned drivers to watch their speed.

Snow on M40
BBC

Tonight's weather: 'Widespread ice'

BBC Weather

Rain, sleet and snow will clear southeastwards this evening with clear skies following, and this will lead to widespread ice forming on untreated surfaces overnight. 

Winds will remain strong throughout the night leading to a widespread and sharp frost. 

Minimum Temperature -1C (30F).

Appleton: 'Buchel free to leave United'

Ross Heaton

BBC Oxford Sport

Oxford United boss Michael Appleton has confirmed he will allow keeper Benji Buchel to leave the club if he wishes to do so. 

The Lichtenstein international has had to play understudy to first choice keeper Simon Eastwood, and youngster Jack Stephens took his place on the bench midweek.

Michael Appleton
Rex Features

Firefighters battle Banbury house fire

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service dealt with a house fire in Banbury yesterday.

Two fire engines were called to Devon Way at 15:47 and were met by smoke coming from several first floor windows.

Crews wearing breathing apparatus went inside the property and battled a "considerable fire" in one of the bedrooms. Though they put the fire out, the whole of the first floor was damaged by heat and smoke.

Watch manager Dave Edge said: "This was a significant house fire that was dealt with swiftly by the crews.

"The occupants of the house were alerted to the fire by their smoke alarm sounding and were able to escape from the house unharmed."

'Magnificently curved'

We love it when the Ashmolean Museum shares its stunning artworks via its 'onthisday' hashtag.

View more on twitter

You can see more of Sargent's work in this BBC gallery taken from an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, and check out its review on Front Row.

Snowfall in Nuneham Courtenay

Here's a video of snowfall in Nuneham Courtenay.Yes, OK, it's not exactly a blizzard, but warnings are in place for many areas of the country until Saturday.

EFL Checkatrade Trophy - United to face Cheltenham or Bradford City at home

Jerome Sale

BBC South Today

Oxford United have been handed a home draw in the quarter-finals of the EFL Checkatrade Trophy.

They'll host either Cheltenham or Bradford City on 24 January - their opponents playing for the right to face Oxford next Tuesday in the one outstanding last 16 tie. 

United are favourites to win the tournament, but have been hit by another rule change in the competition this season. 

Defender Joe Skarz will be banned for the quarter-final after being booked for a second time in this season's tournament. 

Banbury man found with knives near palace detained

A Banbury man found with knives near Buckingham Palace has been detained in hospital.

John Bolton, 48, was found with three lock knives at Hyde Park Corner in June, two days before the Queen's official 90th birthday celebrations.

He was given an indefinite Mental Health order at a sentencing hearing at Southwark Crown Court earlier.

Buckingham Palace
BBC

Snow in Middle Barton

View more on twitter

You're welcome Judith. Sometimes, just sometimes, we get it right.

Name change for tower block renovator

Hoardings on five tower blocks in Oxford undergoing a £20m revamp will be rebranded after the council's contractor changed its name from Willmott Dixon Energy Services Limited to Fortem.

Work has been taking place to renovate Evenlode and Windrush towers in Blackbird Leys, Wood Farm's Foresters Tower, Cowley's Hockmore Tower, and Northway's Plowmans Tower for the past year.

Evenlode Tower, Blackbird Leys
Nigel Cox

Mick Williamson, Fortem’s managing director, reckons the rebrand "will create a fresh, modern identity that better positions the company to grow its specialist services in existing and new markets". 

And in case you were wondering, Fortem is a Latin word, meaning strong and prudent.

Gritters out in Oxford city centre

Not that this snowy picture was taken today, mind.However, we are receiving reports of snow in Wheatley, Benson, and between Wantage and Newbury.

View more on twitter

Stricter rules for taxi drivers in the districts

Banbury Guardian

Mandatory training and stricter use of criminal records are among new measures to be introduced as part of a tougher licensing policy for taxi and private hire drivers.  

George Michael poems unearthed

Two poems written by an 11-year-old George Michael have been unearthed near Faringdon in Oxfordshire. 

Penny Ling, who went to school with the singer, found the poems in her primary school yearbook from 1974. 

Plans for £60m Templars Square redevelopment go on show

Plans to redevelop the Templars Square shopping centre in Cowley are going on show to the public. 

Proposals for the £60m overhaul of the 50-year-old shopping district include 200 flats, upgraded parking, a hotel and a new restaurant area. 

Templar's Square regeneration
Newriver

Shopping centre owner NewRiver will put the plans on show at the shopping centre in Bank Court on the following days:

  • Friday 20 January from 12:00 to 17:00
  • Saturday 21 January from 10:00 to 16:00

Latest weather forecast: Widespread ice overnight

We're still waiting for snow in Southampton but we have had lots and lots of rain!

Here's the latest forecast.

Inquest into A40 crash death adjourned

Matt Graveling

BBC South Today Oxford

The inquest into the death of Deborah Blood has been opened and adjourned until 3 May.

She died on the A40 on the 28 December in one of a series of crashes involving up to 20 cars.

A40 crash
BEN STARKEY/PA

Oxford Coroner's Court heard that the 54-year-old from Gloucester was a passenger in one of the cars and was declared dead at the scene.

The post-mortem examination found she died of multiple injuries.

Travel update: Slow traffic in Bodicote

BBC Travel

There's slow traffic on the A4260 Oxford Road in Bodicote at the Weeping Cross junction in the roadworks area.

Police warn road users of hazardous conditions

Rescue dog reunited with thankful owner after A34 escape

Oxford Mail

The owner of a panicked pooch who escaped on a walk near Kidlington and ended up in the A34 traffic has thanked the bin men and public who rescued him.  

Breaking'Jihadi Jack' parents trial not to commence today

Joe Nimmo

BBC South

The trial of two parents accused of funding terrorism will not start until Tuesday.

John Letts and Sally Lane are alleged to have sent cash to 20-year-old Jack Letts, who was suspected of joining so-called Islamic State in 2014.  

The trial has been delayed due to legal arguments taking place. 

Jack Letts
BBC

Oxford professor reports home secreary 'hate speech'

Alex Regan

BBC South

An Oxford University professor has reported Home Secretary Amber Rudd for allegedly using "hate speech".

The home secretary responds to business concerns about her immigration plans.

Professor Joshua Silver claims the "hate incident" occurred at the Conservative Party conference speech in Birmingham last Autumn

Ms Rudd said new curbs on foreign workers and students were needed to "change the tide" of public opinion on immigration. She said students on "low-quality courses" could also face tougher entry rules. 

Prof Silver said: "Some politicians have been using hate crime as an instrument to foster support for their political aims."

West Midlands Police confirmed they are investigating the incident. 

Unofficial homeless shelter

The site is currently home to 14 people but could be turned into student accommodation.

Read more

Pedestrian dies in Transit van crash

A pedestrian has died after being hit by a Ford Transit van on the Oxfordshire border. 

The crash occurred on the A361 northbound at 17:16 on Wednesday outside Lechlade. 

Lechlade
Philip Halling

Inspector Gavin Biggs said: "Sadly a man has died following this collision and we are working to inform the man's next of kin.

"We are asking anyone who may have witnessed this incident or may have seen a Ford Transit van shortly after this incident on the A361 with damage to the nearside (passenger) door mirror."

'Thundersnow' a possibility for Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire could be battered by the rare "thundersnow" phenomenon - a thunderstorm with snow - later today. 

Professor Joanna Haigh spoke to BBC Radio 4 earlier today to explain what creates the meteorological oddity.  

If you catch any pictures of the snow or thundersnow, please send your pictures to us by email

BreakingCo-op working to move Iffley Road squatters

Alex Regan

BBC South

The Midcounties Co-operative is "taking steps to recover possession" of a car showroom in Iffley Road being used by squatters. 

The property is owned by Wadham College, who said they were "profoundly sympathetic" to the plight of homeless people in Oxford. 

But the car showroom, which has been vacant for two years, is leased by the Midcounties Co-operative. 

Squatters took possession of the ground floor showroom over New Year's, and currently 14 people shelter there. 

A spokesperson for Wadham College said that, subject to planning consents, the pre-demolition of the site - which will be used for student accommodation - would begin at the end of February. 

The spokesperson added: "The ground floor of the property is currently let to The Midcounties Co-operative Investments Ltd who, we understand, are taking steps to recover possession."

The Midcounties Co-operative has been approached for comment. 

Overturned coach driver 'still suspended'

The driver of a coach which overturned between Christmas and New Year's is "still suspended from driving duties". 

The Oxford Bus Company coach veered off the M40 on its way to London near Thame on 30 December. 

Coach overturns on M40 in dense fog in Oxfordshire

Seventeen people were hurt in the crash during heavy fog.

An Oxford Bus Company spokesperson said: "Our primary focus is in making sure the affected passengers get the support they need."

'Accidental shooting' soldier's body to be repatriated

Alex Regan

BBC South

A soldier who died in an "accidental shooting" in Iraq will be repatriated at RAF Brize Norton today. 

L/Cpl Scott Hetherington died on 2 January, he was a vehicle commander with the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.

L/Spl Scott Hetherington
MOD

The soldier, who was nicknamed "Snowball", had been in Iraq for a month when he died.

Friends hailed him as a "true hero" and a "brave lion" on Facebook.

His body will be flown into the Oxfordshire base at approximately 13:30 GMT. 

The council's all set...

'Jihadi Jack' parents to go on trial

The parents of a Muslim convert, dubbed "Jihadi Jack" after travelling to Syria, are due to go on trial accused of funding terrorism.

John Letts and Sally Lane are alleged to have sent cash to 20-year-old Jack Letts, who was suspected of joining so-called Islamic State in 2014.

The Oxford couple, of Chilswell Road, are charged with sending their son £1,723 between September 2015 and January 2016.

They have both denied three counts of funding terrorism, and their trial at the Old Bailey in London is due to last three to four weeks.

John Letts and Sally Lane
PA
John Letts and Sally Lane deny the charges