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South Oxfordshire Fire

South Oxfordshire Fire

Hundreds of firefighters have been tackling three major blazes in South Oxfordshire, as police arrested a man on suspicion of arson.

The 47-year-old is being held in connection with the fires, including one that has devastated the South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Council offices.

Twenty-seven fire crews were sent to separate infernos at a thatched home in Rokemarsh and a funeral parlour and the council offices in nearby village Crowmarsh Gifford – all reported within less than 10 minutes of each other, just after 3am.

oxfordshire-fire map

The fires took hold at three separate sites

A witness described seeing a burnt-out car in the foyer of the council headquarters, while aerial images show a collapsed section of roof on the charred remains of the building.
An army bomb disposal team is on the scene amid fears over unexploded gas canisters at the site

Howard Chadwick Funeral Service and the council offices are next to each other in Benson Lane and the funeral director suggested the blazes had been started deliberately.

Neil Cox, 73, told the Oxford Mail: “I live right next to the funeral home and at about 3.15am I heard a noise so I came out and saw a car drive away quickly, down into the council building.

“The offices of the funeral home were on fire, so I phoned the owner, Howard, called the fire service and we tried putting it out with fire extinguishers.

“My understanding is they broke the window in the front door, popped the cap off a gas canister and threw a match in there.”

Mr Cox’s son and co-owner of the funeral home, Alistair Cox, said: “I think it’s a case of mistaken identity, they probably thought the home was a gatehouse to the council. I’ve got no idea why they set fire to the council building.”

Another co-owner, Sandra Chadwick, told the Oxford Mail “no funerals have been cancelled and no bodies of the deceased have been damaged” as a result of the fires.

Thames Valley Police that it was “believed that a vehicle collided with” the council offices before the fire started there.

“At this stage the police investigation is focusing on all three fires being linked and are believed to be suspicious,” the force said.

“This is being investigated as a criminal act and is not thought linked to any terrorist activity. There are cordons in place at all three scenes and residents and motorists are asked to avoid the area.

“Nobody is reported injured as a result of these fires, however following the fires the structures of the buildings are being examined.

“A 47-year-old local man has been arrested on suspicion of arson and is currently in custody.”

Karl Mitchell-Shead, who filmed footage of the council office fire, earlier told Sky News: “The roof has collapsed in places and the other half is well and truly alight.

“I got there pretty early in the operation. Police weren’t really there. You can’t get anywhere near it now.

“The funeral parlour is the last house to the main entrance to the council site. The thatched house is about a mile away.”

Journalist Marcus Chippendale told Sky News: “There are still some flames coming from the building.

“There are going to be a lot of people this morning with concerns about how the council is going to deal with the issues they have. There are still quite a large number of fire service vehicles here.

“I can see at least 20 firefighters and emergency crews. There is still water being sprayed up onto the building right now.”

The Ministry of Defence say they have had no reports of any incident at the nearby RAF Benson
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Hottest Day in History

Hottest Day in History

Hottest Day in History. The highest-ever temperature in Britain has been recorded, weather forecasters said.

Hottest Day in History A temperature of 37.4C (99.3F) was recorded at Heathrow around 1.30pm, the London Weather Centre said.

Provisional figures for the whole year reveal that it was the hottest for the UK in records dating back to 1910.

Last year was also the warmest in the Central England Temperature series, the longest running temperature record in the world which stretches back to 1659, recording temperatures in an area of central England.

The average temperature for the year was 9.9C, some 1.1C above the long term average, and making it warmer than the previous record year of 2006.

It was also the fourth wettest year in records dating back to 1910, the Met Office said.

The figures for 2014 mean that eight of the UK’s top 10 warmest years have occurred since 2002, the weather and climate experts said.

Across the UK, it was the warmest year on record for all countries and regions apart from Northern Ireland, which had its third warmest year

This breaks the previous record temperature, recorded at Cheltenham in August 1990.

A weather observer at Heathrow took the record temperature reading and telephoned the Met Office.

But the temperature may even go higher as the heat peaks between 2pm and 4pm.

“It may well go higher,” said a spokesman for the London Weather Centre.

It means a temperature of 100F is now possible.

Bookies William Hill will now have to pay out up to a quarter of a million pounds to people who put bets on the heat hitting 99 and 100F.

Hottest Day in History in In the United Kingdom. The record temperatures puts Barbados in the shade at 84F and makes Rio de Janeiro look chilly at 64F.

Despite a cooler front spreading in from the west there is still no end in sight to the warm weather with the heatwave set to continue into next week with temperatures again in the high 20s, according to forecasters.
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Snow to hit Britain this weekend!

Snow to hit Britain this weekend!

Snow to hit Britain this weekend! After weeks of relentless rain and flooding, some parts of the UK could be facing snow this weekend.

 Snowy England

Leon Brown, meteorologist for The Weather Channel, warns some parts of south England and Wales could see the white stuff by Saturday.

He told Aol Travel: “A wetter period coming up for southern Britain later this week and start to the weekend. Colder too with overnight frost and ice this weekend. There is also a snow risk over higher ground, even over the south.

“The snow risk over the south with some model solutions giving 10 to 20cm across South Wales to the Midlands on Saturday.
“This may be at the extreme end of the range, but don’t be surprised to see some sleet and snow by Saturday.

“The best of the weather this weekend will be over the north on Saturday, but cold and frosty. A much better day everywhere for Sunday.”

As several areas of low pressure run eastwards over southern Britain on Friday and Saturday, in the next five days the south of the UK will receive 150 to 200 per cent of the normal precipitation for the period. In Wales, 50mm is likely, and 25mm to 35mm over the south west to the Midlands and southern England

Next week remains unsettled and windy at times with showers. A spell of more general rain will move eastwards Tuesday night into Wednesday.

Further snow is likely to fall on high ground, especially in Scotland where the higher parts of the Highlands have already had one of the snowiest winters for 70 years.”This may be at the extreme end of the range, but don’t be surprised to see some sleet and snow by Saturday.

In Wales and Scotland on Saturday . It is expected to snow the  highest temperature in London is 10°c . The frost is expected to clear over Sunday and on Monday, it will be a windy day, but clear
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Red Alert As Storm Set To Bring 100mph Winds

Red Alert As Storm Set To Bring 100mph Winds

Red Alert As Storm Set To Bring 100mph Winds. A powerful storm sweeps towards the UK, threatening to damage buildings, bring down trees and cut power.

 Wind Forecast Video: Wind Forecast: 24 Hours From Wednesday 12.00

Wind Forecast: Wind Forecast: 24 Hours From Wednesday 12.00

The Met Office has upgraded its warning of high winds to a red alert as “exceptional” 100mph gusts are forecast to batter some exposed areas of the coast.

Northwest England and north and west Wales are in the firing line for the most ferocious winds, with speeds whipping up through the afternoon and early evening.

People are being urged to “take action now” and avoid travelling due to possible widespread structural damage, fallen trees, power cuts and large waves.

A red alert also indicates a risk to life is likely.

Gusts up to 80mph are predicted for southwest England, with wind speeds at Plymouth already reaching 81mph by midday.

The storm is also sweeping over southern Ireland, with Status Red warnings for Cork and County Kerry.

A further month’s worth of rain is forecast for some areas by Friday night, heaping misery on communities already struggling with flooding.

Less serious “be prepared” and “be aware” warnings for snow, rain and wind have been issued for other areas of Britain.

Live Updates: Floods Disruption Continues

Sky News weather presenter Isobel Lang said: “Winds will pick up dramatically this afternoon around the Irish Sea, west Wales and northwest England.

Waves crash over the sea wall in Dover

Waves crash over the sea wall in Dover

“Disruption across the Pennines later is more likely to be from the tricky mix of strong winds and heavy snowfall.”

David Cameron held another meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee this morning as flood-hit regions in Somerset and the Thames Valley brace for more wild weather.

However, there will be no new money to pay for flood relief, Downing Street sources have told Sky News.

It comes a day after the Prime Minister pledged “money is no object” in the effort to helping flooded communities recover.

Number 10 confirmed that Mr Cameron’s comments did not mean extra money would be found.

Fourteen severe flood warnings are still in place for the South East, close to the River Thames, with two further severe alerts for Somerset.

A further 353 flood warnings and alerts are in place for the rest of England.

Forecasters say 70mm of rain could fall by Friday night in the West Country, south Wales, western Scotland and Northern Ireland. Southern and western areas are expected to get 20-40mm.

Meanwhile, the public is being warned over the potential dangers of using private pumps to clear water.

Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service said some people are not ventilating their homes properly and are in danger of inhaling dangerous fumes like carbon monoxide. Other residents are also allowing cables to sit in flood waters.

Around 1,000 homes have been reported as flooded over the past week, including 800 along the Thames.

Six hundred troops have been deployed to help protect properties against the floods, filling sandbags and helping get medical assistance to the sick. Another 1,000 remain on stand-by.

A new Cabinet committee is being set up to oversee the flooding recovery and a tax deferral scheme will help businesses hit by flooding.

Up to £10m in new funding will also be found to support farmers and grants for homeowners and businesses will be made available to improve flood defences
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Baby Killed By Dog Was ‘Beautiful Little Girl’

Baby Killed By Dog Was ‘Beautiful Little Girl’

Baby Killed By Dog Was ‘Beautiful Little Girl’. The 11-month-old’s mother and her partner are freed on bail as neighbours say they had complained about the dog’s behaviour.

Ava Jayne

Ava has been described as “the most beautiful little girl” by her father

Neighbours of tragic baby Ava-Jayne Corless tonight described the dog said to have killed her as a “menace” – and claimed it is called ‘Killer’.

And they were horrified to learn the pitbull type animal, a banned breed, had apparently attacked as she slept alone in a bedroom.

The neighbour who claimed the dog was called ‘Killer’ said it savaged a ­neighbour’s cat to death two years ago.

Ava-Jayne’s mum Chloe King, 20, and her 26-year-old boyfriend Lee Wright, the dog’s owner were quizzed on suspicion of manslaughter on Tuesday night.

Police have this morning bailed them both – pending further inquiries.

As floral tributes piled up outside the home where Ava-Jayne died, neighbour Brian Harrison, 80, said of Killer: “That dog is a menace. I’m surprised such a tiny baby has been allowed around it.

“It’s not a friendly dog and the poor girl wouldn’t have stood a chance against it. Not a hope. It’s an absolute tragedy that should never have happened.”

Mr Harrison said of Monday’s incident: “When police arrived it was barking wildly and they couldn’t get inside, they had to wait quite a long time before entering.”

Defenceless Ava-Jayne, who would have been one on March 9, died in hospital after the attack at Wright’s home in Blackburn.

She was apparently mauled in her sleep as her mum, who lives nearby, sat downstairs with her boyfriend.

Paramedics called to the home found a scene of “horror” when they arrived. They tried desperately to revive her but failed. Doctors were also unable to save her.

Blackburn’s Labour MP Jack Straw said: “This is the most awful killing, of an innocent 11-month-old baby by an out-of-control, and self-evidently dangerous dog.

What will it take to convince people not to keep dogs like this, and to get across to all dog owners, of every breed of dog, that no dog should ever be left unsupervised with a baby?

“However domesticated a dog may be, its hunting instinct can take over.”

 The man pictured with Ava-Jayne in the above gallery is her father Dean Corless

The 24-year-old said: “She was the most beautiful and adorable little girl, she was just the best. She was my whole world. Her mum and I aren’t together anymore, but I saw Ava-Jayne all the time.

“I will miss her every single day, I just don’t know what to do now. It is so tragic. I have my family around me, but we are all devastated.”

He met his ex on Facebook and they were together for four years before splitting last summer.

His mum Bernadette, 51, added: “I just can’t believe it, it’s such a shock. She was so young, it is so unfair for a baby to be taken away. She was just beautiful, like a china doll. She was a lively baby and was always happy.”

Chloe’s mother Claire King, 39, said: “We are devastated.”

Neighbour Brenda Walmersley added: “The baby was absolutely ­beautiful, with dark curly hair.”

Another said: “She was a lovely little girl, always smiling, always happy. This has ­sickened me to my stomach.”

The RSPCA confirmed that the dog Killer had previously savaged a cat.

A spokesman said: “We were contacted about a cat that had been attacked and died in a garden at this address in March 2012. At the time there was no suggestion the incident was anything other than an accident. No action was taken.”

Chief Superintendent Chris Bithell of Lancashire police said Killer was a pit bull type breed banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

He added: “This is an absolutely horrific ­incident. Officers who attended performed CPR on the baby with paramedics before she was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital. Sadly she passed away a short time later.

“The dog involved was destroyed at the scene. We are making inquiries to see whether there have been previous issues with this particular dog.”

Neighbour Faisal Shahzad said there was more than one dog kept at the home. He added: “I had complained to the police about the dogs before because they had been coming into our garden.

“I have three kids who play in the garden, and one dog was bothering them. I had to chase it out.”

OPINION: We need to educate dog owners

Rebecca Heyworth, pet behaviour counsellor

Pit bulls were bred to fight and a dog hearing a baby’s squeals can trigger a response.
Some dogs are much more prone to that. Bull terriers have low impulse control. If you have a child and a dog, they must be actively supervised.
The emphasis should be on education and people knowing how their dogs operate.
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Met Office Warn Of Stormy Weather Across United Kingdom

Met Office Warn Of Stormy Weather Across United Kingdom

Met Office Warn Of Stormy Weather Across United Kingdom. The agency say after a quieter day on Monday, another low pressure system will bring rain and gales from the west overnight tonight.

The Met Office map from Wensdat

The Met Office map shows the expected track of the storm tomorrow

The Met Office are warning of new storms across much of the United Kingdom bringing more wind and rain to the South East.

The agency say after a quieter day on Monday, another low pressure system will bring rain and gales from the west overnight tonight. This will also bring snow to the higher ground of northern Britain, especially Scotland.

Unsettled weather is then expected for the rest of the week, with further storms due to track across the UK on Wednesday and again towards the weekend.

The Met Office has issued several national severe weather warnings for the next few days due to the possibility of flooding and damaging winds. The public are advised to stay up to date with these warnings and the latest details from our forecast during this time of particularly unsettled weather.

Martin Young, Met Office Chief Meteorologist, said: “We are expecting more Atlantic storms to affect the UK this week. This will bring the continuing risk of flooding. In addition damaging winds could bring down trees to cause disruption to travel and power networks.

“There is some uncertainty about the track these storms will take, and therefore which areas will see the strongest winds and heaviest rain. We are monitoring how they will develop and will keep everyone up to date through our forecasts and warnings.”

The stormy conditions will also continue to bring the additional risk of large and potentially hazardous waves in coastal areas.

Throughout this unsettled spell Met Office forecasters and advisors are working round the clock with our partners to keep everyone up to date with the latest forecast information so they can plan and prepare for the expected weather.
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MPs Vote To Ban Smoking In Cars With Children On Board

MPs Vote To Ban Smoking In Cars With Children On Board

MPs vote to ban smoking in cars with children on board. Police could soon be stopping motorists seen smoking with children on board after MPs approved the policy by a majority of 269.

Smoking in cars when children are present could soon be illegal after MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the policy.

Coalition MPs, who were given a free vote, joined forces with Labour to approve the ban by 376 votes to 107 – a majority of 269.

David Cameron missed the vote while visiting flooded areas in the south west, but the Prime Minister is thought to support the proposed law.

His official spokesman told a regular Westminster media briefing: “While he understands the concerns that some have expressed, his view is that the time for this kind of approach has come.”

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling was one Cabinet minister in the no camp, believing any law would be unenforceable.

Monday night’s vote came after peers amended the Children and Families Bill to give health secretary Jeremy Hunt authority to impose a ban.

Medical charities are “delighted” with the result.

Smoking in a car with children could be banned soon

Smoking in a car with children could be banned soon

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Having campaigned on this issue for many years, we’re absolutely delighted that MPs have backed the ban on smoking in cars carrying children.”

“This could prove a great leap forward for the health of our nation’s children.”

“The introduction of a law that would help prevent hundreds of thousands of children from being exposed to second-hand smoke in the car is now within reach.”

“With both Houses of Parliament having made their support for the ban clear, the onus is now on the Government to act accordingly and make this crucial child protection measure law at the earliest opportunity.”

A ban is already in place in parts of the world including some states in America, Australia, Canada and a few countries in Europe.

Pro-smoking groups had argued a ban would be heavy handed, but a YouGov poll in 2011 found 78% of adults in Great Britain would back such a proposal.
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Shoppers Bagging Without Paying

Shoppers Bagging Without Paying

Shoppers Bagging Without Paying. One in five people has admitted to stealing items while going through a self-service supermarket checkout.

It accounts for more than £1.6bn worth of goods being taken from supermarkets each year, according to a survey.

The most common goods stolen through self-service checkouts were fruit and vegetables, followed by bread and cakes, sweets and toiletries.

And the majority of those who admitted taking items said they did so on a regular basis. The survey, by, estimates that amounted to around £180 worth of products per person.

The most common reason given initially for taking goods without paying for them, pollsters were told, was because the goods would not register on the scanner.

Once they had gone undetected, the shoppers decided they could do it again.

And of those who did not steal from the checkouts, the reason given was they were afraid of being caught.

George Charles, of, said: “I’m sure most of those who now admit to stealing via self-service checkouts didn’t initially set out to do so – they may have forgotten to scan something and quickly realised how easy it could be to take items without scanning them.”

“No doubt there’s an element of risk involved, but when people start stealing it can be difficult to stop – that is until you get caught – particularly when money might be tight.”

“The poll showed that more than £1bn is stolen through self-scan checkouts each year, which is just not acceptable.”

“Supermarkets need to increase the number of staff who monitor the self-scan checkouts, even though the point of these checkouts is to reduce the need for staff, as well as increase their security measures to ensure this comes to an end.”

“It’s not worth getting into trouble with the police over the matter of a few pieces of fruit and veg.”

The poll interviewed more than 2,600 people from across the UK.
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The search for Megan Roberts is extended

The search for Megan Roberts is extended

The search for Megan Roberts is extended. Police divers have extended their search for missing student Megan Roberts a week after she went missing at the end of a night out with friends in York.

Officers, who released two new pictures of the 20-year-old York St John University student, believe she “entered” the River Ouse while “affected by alcohol”.

Divers initially focused their search around Lendal Bridge but now specialist teams have moved further down river to scour both banks between two other York bridges, Naburn and Scarborough.

The search will resume on Friday.

Police say there is nothing to suggest foul play in her disappearance.

Ms Roberts, from Wetherby, West Yorkshire, was last seen on CCTV at about 2.20am on Thursday, January 23, leaving the city’s Popworld nightclub with friends. They had been drinking for several hours.

The group was spread out and some ran down a street called Tanner’s Moat, past The Maltings pub, where Ms Roberts – the last in the group – was spotted bumping into a row of cycle racks.

Officers are confident that none of her friends is directly responsible for her disappearance.

“The possibility still exists that Megan is elsewhere safe and well but, realistically, given the passage of time, such a possibility is increasingly remote,”  Detective Superintendent Phil Cain said on Wednesday.

Anyone with information about Ms Roberts’ disappearance is urged to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 – select option 1 – and pass information to the Force Control Room.

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Living standards are unlikely to recover by 2015

Living standards are unlikely to recover by 2015

Living standards are unlikely to recover by 2015. Living standards are unlikely to have recovered to their pre-crash levels by the General Election in 2015, a think tank has warned.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said that while the fall in household incomes has now probably come to a halt, living standards are “dramatically” down on where they were before the global financial crisis in 2008.

In its latest analysis, the IFS said families on low incomes could lose the most from the years of recession, with the prospect of fresh cuts to benefits and tax credits adding to the squeeze.

With average household incomes at their lowest level for almost a decade, the IFS said there was “little reason” to expect a strong recovery in the next few years.

Real earnings are not expected to return to their 2009/10 levels until 2018/19, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.

The IFS report found poorer families, who spend a higher proportion of their income on food and fuel, had suffered more as a result of inflation.

Between 2008 and 2013, energy prices rose by 60% while food was up 30% – compared to a 20% increase in prices overall.

At the same time those on low incomes were less likely to have benefited from cuts in mortgage rates.

The report said: “Average living standards have fallen dramatically since the recession, as income growth has failed to keep pace with the rate of inflation.”

“This fall in average incomes has largely been driven by declines in real earnings.”

“Looking forward, however, the combination of recovering real earnings and further cuts to benefits and tax credits is likely to mean that nominal income growth will be lower towards the bottom of the distribution.”

“Unless differences in inflation are reversed, this could mean that low-income households will see the largest falls in living standards over the period of recession and fiscal consolidation as a whole.”

Labour Treasury spokeswoman Catherine McKinnell said: “These worrying figures show those on lower incomes have been hardest hit by price rises, particularly food and energy bills.”

“And on current forecasts real earnings are not expected to get back to the level they were in the final year of the last Labour government until 2018/19.”

Chancellor George Osborne said that while the report showed how much poorer the country was as a result of “Labour’s great recession” it also indicated that the fall in household incomes had probably come to a halt.

He said: “Only by continuing to work through our long-term plan will we secure a better economic future for hard-working people.”
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