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Summary

  1. Didcot 'most normal' town
  2. Oxford United win against Bury
  3. RSPCA reports rise in animal cruelty claims

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

That's all for today

Joe Nimmo

BBC South

Thanks for reading today. We'll be back tomorrow from 08:00 with more news, sport, weather and travel from across Oxfordshire.

Oxford hotspot for hotel investment

Not wanting to be left out after today's accolades for Didcot and Carterton, Oxford has been named one of the UK’s top locations for hotel investment. 

It comes third in Colliers International UK Hotels Market Index ranks behind York and winner Chester. Last year it was 28th.

Hotels director Peter Brunt said: "Oxford has really upped its game in the last year to make it into the top five, despite failing to score in the top 15 last year. 

"The data demonstrates that London is not the only city that investors should be watching and offers a credible indication to influence their decision making process.

"Oxford is often at the top of buyers’ wish lists when they talk to me. It has a golden glow for buyers because of the heritage that drives tremendous tourism demand for bed spaces."

Oxford game show contestant becomes viral sensation

Oxford Mail

An Oxford contestant on ITV’s The Chase game show has become a viral sensation  after his fellow contestants accepted low or minus offers to bag a slice of his £9,000 kitty. 

Wednesday afternoon's forecast with Dan Downs

Weather forecast

Engineering firm CH2M pulls out of HS2

An engineering firm that was chosen to deliver two stretches of the high speed rail line HS2 has said it is pulling out of that section of the project.

Artists' impression
PA

CH2M's £170m contract was to develop Phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds.

But the contract signing was delayed as officials were reportedly investigating concerns from rival bidder Mace over alleged conflicts of interest.

CH2M blamed the exit on "protracted delays and ongoing speculation".

Travel update: Two hour delays on M40 after crash

Al Ryan

BBC Oxford travel presenter

The M40 is closed northbound between junction 2 for Beaconsfield and junction 4 for High Wycombe because of an earlier collision, causing two-hour delays.

'Most normal town' residents react to news
Residents agree Didcot, in Oxfordshire, is really normal.

George Michael: Private funeral for singer held

George Michael's funeral has taken place, three months after his sudden death at the age of 53.

George
PA

His publicist said a "small, private ceremony" on Wednesday was attended by "family and close friends". 

The singer's family thanked his "fans across the world for their many messages of love and support". 

Michael died of natural causes at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, on Christmas Day.

Didcot mayor describes town's normality as 'tremendous'

Dave Gilyeat

BBC South

Didcot mayor Steve Connel has given his response to the news that his town is England's most normal , describing it is a positive reflection of his townspeople.

He said: "We have a very diverse group within Didcot. We have large retired population, we have a large population of working professionals who commute, we have a large scientific community, we have a large grass roots working community. 

"You can look at almost every aspect of British life and it’s there somewhere within Didcot, and that is probably why we’ve been named the most normal town in Britain, statistically anyway."

He described residents as "people who work hard, get on with their lives, and do everything they can to advance their community, and if the spirit represented in Didcot is considered normal across Britain, then I think we’re in tremendous shape".

Travel update: Broken down vehicle causes A34 delays

Al Ryan

BBC Oxford travel presenter

On the A34 southbound one lane is closed due to a broken down vehicle between Abingdon north and the A415, leading to delays at the Marcham interchange of eight to 10 minutes.

It was a 'shoe-in' this morning

Didcot 'special' not normal

According to the town council that is.

View more on twitter

Rap for the U's

The U's are heading to Wembley this weekend for the Checkatrade trophy final - and in their honour DJ Kevlar has produced a new rap.

His first outing was for last year's trip to the home of football.

We are in awe.

Oxford United fan DJ Kevlar raps ahead of Wembley bid

Sonning's George Clooney 'ready to become father to twins'

Emma Midgley

BBC South

Amal and George Clooney
Getty Images

Hollywood star George Clooney says he is ready to become a father to twins, and has told the US site Extra: "I know what I'm in for." 

The screen star, 55, and his English barrister wife Amal, 39, who have a house in Sonning, are expecting their first babies this June. 

Mr Clooney told US site Extra that Amal was "doing great". 

"She is amazing. I don't have anything to do. There is nothing I can do to help, but make tea and stuff," he said.  

He joked that nappies will be central to his life, adding "for me, not for the kids".

The Hollywood star recently turned up unexpectedly at a care home in Berkshire, with flowers for 87-year-old fan Pat Adams.

George Clooney and Pat Adams
Sunrise UK

Carterton house prices 'good value in expensive county'

Carterton has been named one of the best value towns in one of the country's most expensive counties, according to Zoopla.

The average property value there is £290,976, compared with Oxfordshire's £425,032.

It's fifth on the list, after Feltham, Whyteleafe, Stevenage, and Milton Keynes.

Lawrence Hall, a spokesman for Zoopla, said it meant there were still some locations "where value can be found".

Carterton Town Hall
P L Chadwick

Flood Alleviation Scheme investigations under way

Sophie Law

BBC Radio Oxford news

A further round of investigation work's being started by the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme to check ground conditions before new structures like bridges or embankments are installed.

The work will be carried out around South Hinksey, Botley Road Bridge and Willow Walk and is set to last up to seven weeks.

A project team will carry out a series of boreholes and trial pits as well as completing three pumping tests.

Revamped Checkatrade Trophy competition has a future claims EFL chief

Simon Stone

BBC Sport

The Checkatrade Trophy "does have a future" in its revamped format, says EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey .

The EFL was  criticised heavily  after teams from the Premier League and Championship with Category One academies were invited to compete.

With League One and Two clubs fined for picking weakened teams,  Bradford changed their goalkeeper after three minutes  to comply with the rules.

But Harvey told BBC Sport the "pilot" was "certainly worth doing".

He was speaking in the build-up to Sunday's all-League One final between Coventry City and Oxford United.  

Oxford United 5-1 Bury

Adam Williams

BBC Sport

A Conor McAleny hat-trick helped Oxford United maintain their League One play-off hopes in an emphatic win against relegation-threatened Bury .

Everton loanee McAleny bagged his second hat-trick of the season for the U's as the hosts dominated throughout.

Marvin Johnson's finish and Joe Rothwell's dink came before McAleny strikes either side of the break.

James Vaughan headed a consolation for Bury on the hour before McAleny's third goal came deep into injury time.

Marvin Johnson
Empics

Didcot apparently 'most normal' town in England

Yes, you read that right, Didcot has been unveiled as the most normal town in England, at least according to data scientists.

Using information from the Office for National Statistics and 2011 Census records, they described a collection of 10 streets, known by ONS code LSOA E01028631, as most closely resembling the statistical ‘median’.

They took into account age distribution, ethnicity, marital status, property ownership, employment type, unemployment, Euroscepticism, the 2015 Election vote share, political engagement, mean income, and house prices.

Jubilee Way, Didcot
Colin Bates
Is this one of the most normal streets in England?

Marc Warner, chief executive of ASI Data Science, said: "Most people live in a bubble whereby their experiences in life are heavily influenced by the area they live in and the people they interact with.

"Our study allows researchers and decision makers to better understand a ‘normal’ life experience and apply these methods at a more local level."

Brexit: Theresa May set to trigger Article 50 today

Oxford Mail

Theresa May has signed the letter that will formally begin the UK's departure from the European Union, so how would you vote now?

Travel latest: Delays in Henley at temporary lights

Al Ryan

BBC Oxford travel presenter

In Henley, expect delays through the temporary traffic lights on Hart Street between Henley Bridge and Bell Street. It's slow from White Hill and Wargrave Road.

On the A34 southbound there are delays on the approach to the A4130 Milton Interchange. It's about seven to eight minutes from Marcham.

On the A34 northbound it's slow between Abingdon North and the Hinksey Hill Interchange. Travel time is 10 to 12 minutes.

Weather: 'Cloudy start, mostly dry'

RSPCA reports rise in animal cruelty claims

A litter of puppies dumped in a bucket by the side of an Oxfordshire road was just one of more than 27,000 cruelty cases dealt with by the RSPCA in the south last year. 

The charity says the pups left without water in Bicester was one of the incidents contributing to a 5% increase in cruelty investigations

RSPCA inspector Andy Eddy said: "These poor pups had been left alone in this broken bucket and were clambering on top of each other. They were suffering with mange, diarrhoea and worms, but with expert care, they all thankfully made a good recovery.

"I assume as they’d been left on a pavement that the person responsible was hoping they would be found and helped. However, they had no water, and leaving them exposed like this was really dangerous. Sadly the person who dumped them was never traced."

Abandoned puppies
RSPCA

The puppies, named Flora, Enid and Delilah, were eventually reunited with their mother, who had been picked up as a stray, and all have been rehomed.

The RSPCA's leading inspector believes the rise in cruelty cases is down to the public becoming more aware and less tolerant of animal cruelty and neglect.  

Good morning

Hello and welcome to BBC Local Live for Wednesday 29 March, on a day where we'll be hearing a lot about the definite Article .

We'll be bringing you all the news from across the county as it breaks throughout the day, and you can be part of the conversation via  TwitterFacebook , and  email .    

Vapour trails above Oxfordshire
Tim Turan

Thanks to Tim Turan for today's striking main image.

He describes it as "wonderful geometric vapour trails over Oxfordshire".

If you have a picture you'd like to share with us, feel free to send it in .