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Summary

  1. Government announces new rail franchise in to Waterloo
  2. Stagecoach 'disappointed' to lose contract
  3. Roger Croft, the leader of West Berkshire Council, has died
  4. Weather: some good spells of sunshine on the way today

Live Reporting

By Sarah Lee, Toby Wadey and Emma Midgley

All times stated are UK

That's all for today

Toby Wadey

BBC South

Thank you for joining us again today. 

We will be back tomorrow with all of Berkshire's latest news, travel, sport and weather. 

Reading magistrate 'abused boy in underground car park'

Toby Wadey

BBC South

A magistrate has gone on trial accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy in a car park beneath the court house he sat in. 

Rodney Fox, 49, used his special privileges to access Reading Magistrates' underground car park when it was deserted to molest the child, a court heard today. 

He is accused of sexual assault on a boy under 13, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and making indecent photographs of a child. 

Mr Fox denies all of the charges. 

WATCH: Fire station bed for rescued sheep

A sheep stayed with firefighters overnight after being rescued from the Kennet and Avon.

'Stop killing badgers,' says wildlife group

The government should vaccinate badgers against TB rather than culling them, according to the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust. 

A cull of badgers has been under way in certain areas since 2014, and MPs are set to debate the issue later.  

Badgers
PA

Julia Lofthouse, the trust's mammals officer, said: "Farmers may often support the cull, but there has got to be the scientific backing saying this is the right thing to do. 

"We don't think there is, and a lot of the public agree with us."

A petition to end the badger cull has been signed by more than 100,000 people.

Injured man goes missing from hospital

An injured man who requires "urgent medical treatment" has gone missing from a hospital in Reading. 

Sydney Douglas, 52, was last seen at the Royal Berkshire Hospital on Friday,

Mr Douglas, who has connections in Slough and Reading, was wearing a a long green jacket, camouflage trousers and red trainers.  

Sydney Douglas
Thames Valley Police

He is described as black, 5ft 8ins with short black dreadlocks, a beard and brown eyes.

Thames Valley Police said the force was becoming "increasingly concerned" for his welfare. 

Fire fighters rescue sheep

Reading firefighters have been caring for Minty the sheep who they rescued from a canal on Sunday.

Read more

Book of condolence opened for council leader

Severe disruption: M4 Berkshire westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Berkshire westbound severe disruption, between J10 for A329 and J11 for A33.

M4 Berkshire - One lane closed and slow traffic on M4 westbound between J10 A329(M) Wokingham and J11, A33 (Reading), because of a broken down vehicle.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Severe disruption: M4 Berkshire westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Berkshire westbound severe disruption, between J10 for A329 and J11 for A33.

M4 Berkshire - One lane closed and slow traffic on M4 westbound between J10 A329(M) Wokingham and J11, A33 (Reading), because of a broken down vehicle.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

CCTV image released following knife-point robbery

Police have released a CCTV image of a man they want to speak to following a knife-point robbery in Reading. 

Two males, one wielding a seven-inch blade, mugged a 23-year-old man in an alleyway between Falkland Avenue and Southview Avenue in Caversham.

CCTV image released by police
Thames Valley Police

They stole his phone, laptop and bank cards during the incident, which happened in November last year. 

A 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of robbery and has been bailed until 4 April. 

Council appoints new chief executive

Reading Borough Council has chosen a new chief executive.

Peter Sloman, who has been in the same role at Oxford City Council for almost 10 years, will have his appointment confirmed at a full council meeting tomorrow. 

Mr Sloman, who was director of housing at Slough Borough Council between 1990 and 2000, said he was "looking forward to getting started". 

Council leader Jo Lovelock said Mr Sloman's experience will be "hugely valuable" as the authority looks to make more savings.  

Chief executive pays tribute to 'energetic' council leader

West Berkshire Council leader Roger Croft will be missed for his "passion for serving the community", according to the authority's chief executive. 

In a statement, Nick Carter said that Councillor Croft, who died on Friday following a car crash in France, would be remembered for his "energy, drive and vision". 

Roger Croft
West Berkshire Council

"He was the architect behind the current council strategy, and at the time of his passing was playing a lead role in exploring a range of new income opportunities for the council," said Mr Carter. 

"He worked at a great pace and could be difficult to keep up with such was his desire to get things done."

Weather latest: Sunny afternoon ahead

The sunny and warm conditions are forecast to last for the remainder of the day with temperatures reaching 15C. 

The dry weather is expected to continue overnight before another bright day tomorrow.

BBC weather
BBC

Seven Mother's Days without a son

Helena Tym has now has seven Mother's Days since her son Cyrus died in Afghanistan.

A sheep stays with fire crews overnight after being rescued from a canal

Emma Midgley

BBC South

Sheep rescue
@CavershamRoadFS

A sheep has stayed with firefighters overnight after being rescued from the Kennet and Avon Canal in Reading on Sunday. 

Three crews, including a water rescue unit, worked to save the animal at around 15:00 BST.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue is now seeking the owner of the sheep, who has been named 'Minty' by his hosts. 

Following his rescue, the sheep was taken to Caversham Road Fire station and put up in the drill tower. 

The sheep's ID number is UK 07/45274/02189.

Sheep rescue
@CavershamRoadFS
Sheep rescue
@CavershamRoadFS

BreakingOverturned car on A329M causes 'severe disruption'

The A239M is blocked and there are long queues London-bound on the M4 at Junction 10 after a car overturned.

Ambulance crews attended after a driver suffered a head injury. 

Union has 'deep concerns' over new operator of South West Trains

Responding to the news that South West Trains is to be operated by Chinese-owned MTR and First Group, Mick Cash of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) Union said:

"Once again the Government have refused to consider the public sector option for a major rail franchise and instead it's a foreign state operator, in this case the Chinese state, which is set to make a killing at the British taxpayers expense."

Mr Cash said as the Government had triggered Article 50 it "would be free to ignore EU rail directives that slam a block on public ownership". 

He said the RMT was "deeply concerned" about its union members, rail services and the safety of the travelling public, and would be seeking an "early meeting" with the new owners. 

It is frankly ludicrous that the Tories are continuing with the "any state but the British state" policy which has plundered our railways for ‎over two decades.

Mike CashGeneral Secretary of the RMT

New apprentices getting on-board

Weather: Good spells of sunshine on the way today

Sunny spells on the way today

MTR and First Group will run huge swathe of country

Paul Clifton

Transport correspondent, BBC South Today

The timing for this is awkward, right in the middle of a massive re-building of Waterloo Station, right in the middle of a new fleet of suburban trains entering service into Berkshire, in will come First Group, the operator of Great Western, in partnership with the Chinese-owned MTR who will be the operators of Crossrail.

They will run services in a huge swathe of the country.

South West Trains: How Berkshire is affected

A Hong Kong company is to help operate one of the biggest rail franchises in the UK , the government has announced.

MTR, which runs the Hong Kong Metro, has been awarded the franchise along with First Group to run South West Trains (SWT) for seven years.

For us in Berkshire their promise of 'more seats, services and faster trains' will apply to the trains into Waterloo from Reading and Windsor.

South West Train map
South West Trains

More tributes to West Berkshire council leader

Following the news of the death of Roger Croft, the leader of West Berkshire District Council, tributes have been pouring in on twitter from people who worked along side him.

He died five weeks after he was involved in a car crash in France that killed his wife .

View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter

South West rail franchise: Stagecoach 'disappointed' to lose contract

South West Trains service
Getty Images

The rail firm which currently runs the South West franchise says it is disappointed to have lost out on the next contract.

South West Trains has operated the network for more than 20 years.

Over the past two decades, we have delivered real improvements for our customers right across the network. That success has been built on fantastic people, detailed knowledge of the business and strong relationships with our stakeholders and railway partners. But we have never thought our job was finished. We believe we submitted a strong bid for the new South Western franchise. It offered a transformation in the travel experience for our customers, more investment to help the railway support the communities and economy of the south-west, as well as a substantial and deliverable financial benefit to taxpayers to help fund better public services.

Martin Griffiths Stagecoach Group Chief Executive

Delays of up to 20 minutes on buses between Wokingham and Winnersh

Chinese firm to help run South West trains

A Chinese company is to help operate one of the biggest rail franchises in the UK, the government has announced. 

 MTR has been awarded the franchise to run South West Trains (SWT) with First Group for seven years from August. 

South West train
Getty Images

First MTR will take over from Stagecoach, which currently runs SWT services across south west England to and from London Waterloo. 

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said China would make "a killing at the British taxpayers' expense". 

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the new operators would oversee a £1.2bn investment to improve journeys for millions of train passengers. It said the new franchise would add 22,000 extra seats into London Waterloo for every morning peak and 30,000 extra seats each evening peak.

First group promising 'more seats, services and faster trains'

South West rail franchise 'will see an improvement people want'

As part of the seven-year contract, the government has said First MTR South Western Trains Ltd will oversee a £1.2bn investment that will improve journeys for millions of train passengers, and provide a boost for the communities served.  

First MTR South Western Trains Limited will deliver the improvements that people tell us they want right across the South Western franchise area, from Bristol and Exeter, to Southampton, Weymouth, Portsmouth and London. We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century and this franchise will deliver real changes for passengers, who can look forward to modern trains, faster journeys and a more reliable service.

Chris GraylingTransport Secretary
South West train
Getty Images

BreakingGovernment announces new rail franchise for South West

First MTR South Western Trains Ltd has been awarded the South Western rail franchise which will run from 20 August 2017.  

Tributes paid to West Berkshire Council leader Roger Croft

The leader of West Berkshire council has died in hospital in France five weeks after a car crash which killed his wife. 

The 70-year-old was left seriously injured in hospital following the collision.

His death was announced on Twitter by the Conservative MP for Newbury, Richard Benyon.

Roger Croft
West Berkshire Council

Mr Croft and his wife Grizelda were travelling through France when the collision happened at an unknown location.

The authority said deputy leader, Councillor Graham Jones had taken over the role of leader until further notice.

So sad that my friend and leader of West Berks Council, Roger Croft, has died. It would be hard to find someone more decent or kind. RIP

Travel: Problems with broken down lorry on the M4

Mandy O'Neale

BBC Berkshire travel presenter

Broken down lorry on London-bound M4 just after juction 10 (Wokingham). Blocking the inside lane.

Good morning!

Emma Midgley

BBC South

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