Week Ahead: Grant Shapps heads to Leeds to hear about state of northern transport links

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will be in Yorkshire to hear about the state of the region’s railways, while John Lewis is publishing its results. Chris Burn looks at the Week Ahead.

MINISTER’S MISSION

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps arriving at the Cabinet Office in London. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps arriving at the Cabinet Office in London. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Last week’s return to work was accompanied by the annual story of unhappy rail commuters being hit with price rises for the New Year, with tickets going up by 2.7 per cent on average around the country.

Sack Northern and TransPennine Express rail operators now, Grant Shapps is urged

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also gained headlines by suggesting that it is his intention to remove Northern from its rail franchise because of its “unacceptable” level of service.

Now the transport minister, who replaced the much-derided Chris Grayling in the post last year, will be in Yorkshire on Wednesday to attend a meeting of Transport for the North in Leeds. Among the items on the agenda that are due to be discussed are long-term rail fares for the North of England and an update on the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme.

CYPRUS RAPE CASE PROTEST

The distressing case of a British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus will continue this week as the 19-year-old is sentenced tomorrow. She is potentially facing up to a year in prison but the Foreign Office has said it is “seriously concerned” about the fairness of her trial while a crowdfunding appeal to raise money for legal support for her has raised more than £80,000.

The teenager claimed in court she was raped but forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police. Her mother has backed calls for a tourism boycott of the country, telling the BBC last week: “The place isn’t safe - it is absolutely not safe. And if you go and report something that’s happened to you, you’re either laughed at, as far as I can tell, or, in the worst case, something like what’s happened to my daughter may happen.”

There will be a protest march in support of the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in London on Monday with a march beginning outside the Cypriot embassy at lunchtime before passing by Downing Street and finishing in Parliament Square.

RINGING TILLS

The John Lewis Partnership - which runs both the famous department stores and supermarket Waitrose will provide an update on how its Christmas trading fared on Thursday.

The company said on December 23 it was predicting a “last minute rush” in the 48 hours before Christmas but on New Year’s Eve, trade publication Retail Gazette reported that John Lewis had seen a 4.1 per cent drop in sales year-on-year for the week to December 28, although Waitrose had seen an 18 per cent increase in the same period.

IVANKA TALKS TECH

CES, the world’s largest and most influential tech event which has been the location for announcements of everything from camcorders to DVDs and 3D printers down the decades, will have a controversial guest speaker as the conference takes place in Las Vegas this week.

Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka will be part of a keynote discussion tomorrow on ‘The Path to the Future of Work’.

She has said of the opportunity: “CES has consistently proven to be one of the most influential technology events in the world and I am excited to join this year for a substantive discussion on the how the government is working with private sector leaders to ensure American students and workers are equipped to thrive in the modern, digital economy.”

But her involvement has been criticised by several technology commentators disappointed that women who work in the field have been overlooked in favour of someone with limited experience of the sector.

ON THE CATWALK

Today marks the final day of London Fashion Week Men’s Shows. Among the highlights will be a creative installation from emerging artist Alexander James, while GQ magazine will host a special dinner to close the event.