Northern and GTR trains hit by timetable ‘shambles’

Northern train Image copyright Northern
Image caption Northern services operate across the North East and North West of England

Two troubled rail operators were responsible for almost 1,000 late or cancelled trains on Wednesday.

The disruption to passengers using Northern and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) routes was described as a “complete shambles” by an MP.

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said Northern’s “freefall” had shown “no signs of slowing down”.

Northern and GTR said they were urgently working on “comprehensive plans” to improve services.

The operators switched to new timetables on 20 May.

Wednesday’s disruption affected one in eight scheduled trains.

Mr Burnham also said at least 147 trains were cancelled or part-cancelled on 22 May and this had almost doubled to at least 281 on 29 May.

Lilian Greenwood, chair of the Transport Select Committee, said she would ask the committee on Monday to “review the situation”, which may lead to a full inquiry.

Mr Burnham said the fact services have “continued to decline” is “nothing short of a scandal”.

“Ministers seems oblivious to the scale of this chaos and the impact this is having on people’s jobs and social lives on a daily basis,” he said.

Mr Burnham and Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram have called for Northern to lose the franchise if things do not improve.

Image copyright Susan Ramsdale
Image caption There were major delays on “Meltdown Monday” at Manchester Piccadilly

Mr Burnham has also accused Transport Secretary Chris Grayling of being “asleep at the wheel”.

He said: “I believe he now must take personal responsibility for sorting this situation out.”

Mr Grayling previously said improving Northern’s train services is the Department for Transport’s “number one performance priority”.

Northern said it has agreed actions with the DfT and is working on a plan to “stabilise” services.

Managing director David Brown said that “such a plan is likely to take a number of weeks to deliver lasting improvements”.

‘Worse disruption’

Mr Burnham spoke to Mr Grayling on a call with other political leaders in northern England.

He said they were previously told it was a Network Rail issue but have now been told it is more of a shared issue between Network Rail and Northern.

“The problem with that is we’ve had an action plan that’s been based on the wrong analysis for a week and here we are a week later with worse disruption,” said Mr Burnham.

“I take away from this that the pain of northern commuters, I’m afraid, is not worth the same as the pain of commuters in London.”

Abuse from passengers

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has also warned that the industry will suffer “lasting and irreparable damage” if the issues are not resolved.

The union added its members working for companies including Northern and (GTR) were facing increasing levels of abuse from passengers because of delays and cancellations.

Mr Burnham first called for an investigation into Northern’s “unacceptably poor” service on 16 May.

There were severe issues with cancellations and delays following the introduction of new timetables, with the following day dubbed “Meltdown Monday”.



‘Torrential rain’ and storms to hit UK

Lightning Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Storms are expected across the UK over the next two days

Parts of the UK are braced for torrential rain as severe thunderstorms are set to hit later.

A Met Office amber warning – meaning a potential risk to life – will be in force across Wales and the South West from 16:00 BST Thursday until 06:00 on Friday.

The flooding of homes is “likely and could happen quickly”, and travel could be disrupted, the Met Office said.

Up to 80mm of rain is predicted to fall in fewer than three hours.

A yellow warning for rain has also been issued for the South East, the Midlands and East Anglia.

The weather is predicted to move into the northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Friday morning, with flooding and possible disruption to travel predicted.

The amber warning area is also forecast to expand into much of the South East on Friday.

Image copyright Met Office
Image caption Amber and yellow warnings for Thursday night and Friday morning

A Met Office spokesman said Thursday’s thunderstorms are expected to be slow-moving, but may merge together to create larger storms.

In the amber warning areas there may be travel delays, road and rail closures, power cuts and a potential risk to life and property.

There will also be frequent lightning and the possibility of hailstones.

“You should think about changing your plans and taking action to protect yourself and your property,” said the spokesman.

“You may want to consider the impact of the weather on your family and your community and whether there is anything you need to do ahead of the severe weather to minimise the impact.”

A yellow warning is also in place for Saturday across Scotland and Northern Ireland, with heavy showers and thunderstorms expected to develop in the late morning.

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Media captionLightning struck across the UK last weekend

The Environment Agency has urged people to check their flood risk – especially if they are travelling to unfamiliar areas over half term.

The organisation also said that the South West, Hampshire and the West Midlands are most at risk, with urban areas most likely to suffer from flash flooding.

Kate Marks, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, said teams would work “24/7” to operate flood defences, clear blockages in rivers and streams, and offer support at incidents of surface water flooding.

“With heavy rain forecast during rush hour, drivers should stay up to date with the latest weather forecast and travel information before making their journey,” she added.

“We remind people not to drive through flood water as just 30cm can move your car.”

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Media captionResidents filmed the flooded streets around Birmingham during last weekend’s storms

The bad weather follows torrential storms last weekend that led to a man in his 80s dying after his car was submerged in flood-waters in Walsall.

In Birmingham, more than a month’s rainfall hit parts of the city in an hour on Sunday. Areas of Northamptonshire were also flooded.



‘Staggering’ Bank of England failure to pick woman

The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee has only one female member Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Silvana Tenreyo is the only female member of the Monetary Policy Committee

The Treasury’s failure to appoint a woman to the Bank of England’s rate-setting committee is “truly staggering”, the chair of the Business Committee said.

Rachel Reeves made the comment in response to Prof Jonathan Haskel’s appointment to the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

Prof Haskel’s appointment means there is still only one woman on the MPC.

The Treasury said the role had been awarded on merit.

The department insisted it was “committed to diversity and encouraging the broadest range of candidates”.

It had “actively contacted” 44 women and 43 men to apply for the role.

Of those, 19 men and eight women applied and four women and one man were shortlisted. It also pointed out that two of the three people on the interview panel were women.

“The final appointment decision was based on merit,” it said.

However, Ms Reeves said: “Eight of the nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee are currently men and it is truly staggering that the Treasury has failed to appoint a woman to this role.

“The fact that four women were shortlisted shows that there are plenty of capable and well qualified women, but yet again the top jobs seem to be reserved for men.”

Image copyright BoE
Image caption Jonathan Haskel joins the MPC on 1 September

Prof Haskel, who lectures in economics at Imperial College Business School, will replace Ian McCafferty as one of the four externally appointed members of the MPC for three years from 1 September.

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Chancellor Philip Hammond said Prof Haskel’s “expertise in productivity and innovation will further sharpen the committee’s understanding of the British economy”.

His appointment was based on recommendations to the chancellor made by an interview panel comprising Clare Lombardelli and Richard Hughes, from the Treasury, and Dame Kate Barker, a former external member of the MPC.

Sarah Smith, professor of economics at Bristol University, said Prof Haskell was “without doubt an excellent appointment, but this leaves only one woman on the committee”.

Economics suffered from “serious under-representation of women at all levels”, she added.

“The profession is going to have to think seriously about attracting a more diverse range of people – and projecting a broader image – otherwise it is in danger of being seen as a subject that is by men and for men.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rachel Reeves chairs the Commons Business committee

Diane Coyle, professor of economics at Cambridge University, called on the Bank of England to do more to encourage women to become economists.

She said it was “hard for any interview panel to do anything other than pick the best candidate, and they’ve appointed a brilliant person”.

However, Prof Coyle added that the “bigger problem” was the wider one of too few women economists: “I’d like to see the Bank take a more prominent leadership role in addressing that in schools and universities.”

Last November, the Bank’s gender pay gap report revealed that its male staff England were paid almost a quarter more than female employees.

At the time, governor Mark Carney said he was confident men and women were paid equally for doing the same jobs at the Bank.

“However, the greater proportion of men than women in senior roles creates a gender pay gap,” he admitted.

“We are working hard to address this imbalance … addressing the disparity in gender representation at senior levels will take time, but it will help close the current gender pay gap at the Bank.”



Bob Higgins trial: Coach ‘infatuated’ with footballer

Bob Higgins Image copyright Other
Image caption Ex-Saints youth coach Bob Higgins is accused of multiple counts of indecent assault against boys

A promising young footballer misused alcohol and drugs to cope with being repeatedly groped and kissed by a youth coach at Southampton FC, a court heard.

Bob Higgins, 65, is accused of groping and other abuse against 24 boys, many of them trainees at Southampton and Peterborough United.

Prosecutors said he had become “infatuated” with Billy Seymour, who has waived his right to anonymity.

Mr Higgins denies 50 counts of indecent assault at Salisbury Crown Court.

Image caption Billy Seymour only told his parents what had happened many years later, the court heard

The charges, dating between 1971 and 1996, arose after the NSPCC set up a dedicated helpline to deal with sexual abuse in football, the jury was told.

Adam Feest QC, prosecuting, said Mr Higgins went on his knees to beg Mr Seymour not to leave him to attend the Football Association’s School of Excellence at Lilleshall.

He said the sexual behaviour became “normalised” in Mr Seymour’s mind after months of grooming.

The court heard Mr Seymour was repeatedly called to the defendant’s bedroom where Mr Higgins cuddled him and told him he loved him.

Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Bob Higgins denies 50 counts of indecent assault
Image caption The charges arose after the NSPCC set up a helpline to deal with sexual abuse in football

The boy became so distressed that on one occasion he fled the house semi-naked and rang his parents from a phone box, the court was told.

Jurors heard he only told his parents what had happened many years later, when he was jailed for a knife assault.

Mr Seymour told his parents the victim of the attack “looked like Bob, smelt like Bob” and “he’s inside me”, Mr Feest said.

The court was also told another Southampton FC trainee, Dean Radford – who also waived his right to anonymity – said Mr Higgins inappropriately touched him to “ease the bruising” from a lower back injury.

Image caption Dean Radford said Bob Higgins touched him inappropriately while he was a trainee, the jury was told

When the allegations came to light in 1989, a senior figure at the club asked Mr Higgins about “comments and jokes about his behaviour towards young players”, Mr Feest said.

He said Mr Higgins replied that he was innocent and would sue anyone who made allegations against him.

The jury earlier heard Mr Higgins, from Southampton, was found not guilty at a trial for similar offences in the 1990s.

Jurors were also told Mr Higgins continued to abuse trainees after joining Peterborough United in 1994.

Image caption Bob Higgins is on trial at Salisbury Crown Court

He took revenge on a star youth player who rebuffed him by making him run 14 miles a day to lose weight, the court heard.

The player was dropped and later released by the club, Mr Feest added.

The jury was told Mr Higgins made no comment when he was interviewed by police about the latest allegations in March and June 2017.

On both occasions he handed detectives a prepared statement, saying he was not guilty of any offence.

The trial continues.



Marco Silva: Everton appoint former Watford and Hull boss as new manager

Everton have appointed former Watford and Hull City boss Marco Silva as their new manager on a three-year deal.

The 40-year-old replaces Sam Allardyce, who was sacked at the end of the season after six months in charge.

Silva was sacked by Watford in January, with the Hornets blaming the decision on Everton’s approach for the Portuguese in November.

“I know what our fans expect. I want our fans to be proud when they see our team on the pitch,” Silva said.

“I’m excited and I’m really happy to take this big challenge for us as a club and for me as a manager.

“I want to express my thanks to Farhad [Moshiri, owner], to the chairman, to the board and to Marcel [Brands, director of football] for the confidence in my work.

“I know the huge history of Everton as a club and what the fans expect. I’m sure with everybody working together I will be ready for this challenge.”

Silva will be joined by long-term assistant manager Joao Pedro, plus goalkeeping coach Hugo Olivera, technical scout Antonis Lemonakis and fitness coach Pedro Conceicao.

Everton have confirmed their former striker Duncan Ferguson will continue as part of the coaching team.

Everton’s major shareholder Farhad Moshiri said: “His abilities are underpinned by a strong footballing philosophy, a fierce work ethic and his enthusiasm in embracing Everton, our values and our ambitions has hugely impressed me, as I hope it will each and every Evertonian.”

Former Sporting Lisbon and Olympiakos boss Silva spent four months at Hull in 2017 but left after they were relegated from the Premier League.

Two days after leaving Hull he joined Watford in May 2017 and took the team into the top four during his first few months in charge.

But he was dismissed after a dismal run that saw them win just one of his last 11 Premier League games.

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri had pursued Silva since the club sacked Ronald Koeman in November.

The Hornets fiercely resisted the Toffees’ approach and complained to the Premier League with a demand for compensation.

Everton finished 13th in the Premier League under Allardyce, but his style of play was unpopular with fans and the club said the decision to sack the former England boss was part of their “longer-term plan”.

Silva guided Estoril into the Portuguese top flight and they qualified for the Europa League the following season.

In one season at Sporting he won the Portuguese Cup and then the Greek League title in his year at Olympiakos, who he also managed in the Champions League.


BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty

Silva arrives after Everton owner Moshiri fine-tuned the foreign model he has always wanted for his management structure.

The owner’s first attempt ended in failure when Steve Walsh came from Leicester City as director of football, his role bolted on to manager Ronald Koeman who had already arrived from Southampton.

Their relationship never looked anything more than an arranged sporting marriage, resulting in a hotch-potch transfer strategy that never looked coherent.

The result is both have now been sacked and the key director of football role is now held by Marcel Brands, who has a built a glittering reputation at PSV Eindhoven and AZ Alkmaar.

Brands will be calling the shots, in co-ordination with Silva, on transfer and overall strategy and he has already made it clear his role will be hands-on.

The Dutchman rubber-stamped Silva’s appointment after insisting Everton must have a “modern” manager prepared to work with young players.

Moshiri, who simply cannot afford the failure of another key relationship at the top of club, will hope Brands and Silva find the harmony and success that appeared to elude Koeman and Walsh.



US tariffs: Steel and aluminium levies slapped on key allies

A worker at German steel manufacturer Salzgitter AG stands in front of a furnace at a plant in Salzgitter, Germany, March 1, 2018 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The EU has threatened “all necessary measures” in response

The US is to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the European Union, Mexico and Canada.

The 25% tariffs on steel and 10% on aluminium will begin at midnight.

The move, revealed by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, will affect several key US allies – and Nato members – in Europe.

The UK was “deeply disappointed” by the US decision, while Europe’s trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström called it a “bad day for world trade”.

Mr Ross announced the sanctions from Paris, where he had been negotiating with EU leaders who were attempting to fend off the duties.

He said talks had not made enough progress to warrant further reprieve and acknowledged the possibility of retaliation.

“We will have to see what’s their reaction,” he said. “We continue to be quite willing and indeed eager to have discussions with all those parties.”

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire had said the tariffs would be “unjustified and dangerous”.

The EU would take “all necessary measures” to respond if the US did impose tariffs, Mr Le Maire warned.

“It’s entirely up to US authorities whether they want to enter into a trade conflict with their biggest partner, Europe,” he said before the announcement was made.

Ben Digby, of UK business lobby group the CBI, called the tariffs “deeply concerning” but urged the parties to be cautious, given the potential costs of a trade war.

“Now is not the time for any disproportionate escalation, and we urge the EU to consider this when initiating its response,” he said.



Carluccio’s rescue plan could close 30 restaurants

Carluccio Image copyright Carluccio

Carluccio’s could close up to 30 restaurants in a rescue plan under a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

More than 90% of Carluccio’s creditors approved the CVA, which will allow it to close loss-making branches.

That means almost one in three Carluccio’s restaurants could close their doors.

As part of the rescue plan, Carluccio’s majority owner, the Dubai-based Landmark Group, is to invest £10m in upgrading the remaining restaurants.

The 103-strong chain joins a lengthening list of established restaurant businesses losing the battle against higher costs and increased competition.

In the year to 25 September 2016, even though revenues rose 2.7%, spiralling costs meant pre-tax profits fell by 81% to just £982,000.

  • ‘Godfather of Italian cooking’ dies
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The company had a management shake-up in January with a new chief executive, Mark Jones, former boss of Goals Soccer Centres, and a new chief financial officer, Andrew Campbell, from YO! Sushi.

Mr Jones said: “The positive outcome enables us to kick-start an extensive programme of reinvigoration… with the aim of elevating the guest experience and underpinned by our brand ethos of minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour, which was so passionately championed by our founder Antonio Carluccio.”

“Urgent action”

Earlier this month, following a strategic review, the new team admitted that “urgent action” was needed to keep Carluccio’s afloat.

The casual dining sector of the restaurant trade has been suffering from a general fall in consumer spending. Chains have also faced higher rents and rates, as well as rising wages with the increase in the National Living Wage. Prezzo, Jamie’s Italian and Byron also used CVAs to close restaurants.

Italian ingredients, from prosciutto to pecorino, have become more expensive since the devaluation of the pound in 2016.

Carluccio has already tried to rebrand itself several times, introducing Via Carluccio’s, a grab-and-go format in Tottenham Court Road, a hotel restaurant, and serving pizza for the first time in 2016.

But much of the new competition in London is now coming not from other chains but small independent start-ups such as Padella, Sorella, Flour and Grape or Sager and Wilde.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Italian ingredients have become more expensive since the pound’s devaluation

Carluccio’s was co-founded by chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio as an Italian food shop in 1991 with the first cafe opening in Market Place, London, in 1999. Its deliberately simple Italian food and drink proved to be immensely popular. In 2010, it was bought by Landmark for £90m.

Carluccio himself died in November last year aged 80, having sold his majority stake in the company in 2005.



World Cup 2018: The hidden world of Russian goalposts

As the World Cup draws closer, Reuters photographers have been documenting the colourful, creative and modest world of goalposts found in communities around Russia .

Goalposts Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The town of Dolgoprudny in the Moscow region
Goalposts Image copyright Reuters
Image caption An Orthodox church in the Siberian village of Tyulkovo in Krasnoyarsk region
Goalposts Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hay fills a goalposts during the traditional Cossack games outside the village of Arkhonskaya in the Republic of North Ossetia, Alania
Goalposts Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Having a swinging time in St Petersburg
Goalposts Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The village of Bolshaya Dzhalga in Stavropol region
Goalposts Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Siberian settlement of Novosyolovo, Krasnoyarsk region
Goalposts Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ostrov Otdykha (the Island of Rest), located in the middle of the Yenisei River in Krasnoyarsk
Goalposts Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Cossacks sit on a bench next to some goalposts covered with a screen during the traditional Cossack games outside the village of Arkhonskaya in the Republic of North Ossetia, Alania
Goalpost Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Verkhnyaya Biryusa village, in the Taiga area near the Russian Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk
Goalposts Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A tourist centre on the bank of the Belyo Lake in the Republic of Khakassia, Siberia
Goalposts Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A cadet holds a model of a sword as he trains at the stadium of the General Yermolov Cadet School in Stavropol




Abortion pills handed over to police at Belfast pro-choice rally

Pro-choice protesters outside Laganside Courts
Image caption Pro-choice protesters outside Laganside Courts

Organisers of a pro-choice rally in Belfast have handed over abortion pills to the police.

At the demonstration, three women took what appeared to be abortion pills. A mini-robot that can be used to distribute abortion pills was also handed over to police.

The PSNI spoke to one of the women afterwards but she was not arrested.

A small anti-abortion protest also took place alongside the demonstration at Laganside Courts on Thursday.


A police inspector approached the organisers beforehand and warned them that if the robot was used to distribute the pills it could be seized.

Image caption DUP politician Jim Wells and pro-life campaigner Bernie Smyth were among those who protested against changes to abortion laws in Northern Ireland

After 15 minutes of negotiations on the street outside Laganside Courts, a Dutch doctor, who was part of the protest, handed over the robots and the pills to the PSNI.


Following the Republic’s overwhelming vote in favour of abortion law reform, Northern Ireland will soon be the only part of either the UK or Ireland where abortion is illegal unless there is a serious risk to a woman’s life or health.

Unlike other parts of the UK, the 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland.



Kyle Edmund reaches French Open third round at Roland Garros

Edmund is now the last British player left in the singles
French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, the BBC Sport website and app.

British number one Kyle Edmund moved into the French Open third round by beating Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 6-0 1-6 6-2 6-3 in a strange match.

Edmund, seeded 16th, raced to the opening set in just 27 minutes against the world number 45.

Fucsovics looked a different player as he took the second set quickly, before momentum swung back to Edmund.

Edmund edged a tight fourth set to seal victory after two hours and 16 minutes.

“The second set is something to learn from but I’m happy to come through,” Edmund said.

“When I’m playing at my best it’s very good but I can’t play like that the whole time. When I’m not playing my best, I have to find a way to win. This year I’ve done that a lot better.”

He is the last British player left in the singles after Cameron Norrie lost to Lucas Pouille and Heather Watson was beaten by Elise Mertens.

The Briton will next play Italy’s Fabio Fognini, a clay-court specialist who has beaten 16-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal twice on his favoured surface.

Reaching the last 32 equals Edmund’s best performance at Roland Garros, where he lost against South African Kevin Anderson in a third-round epic last year.

Bettering his record in Paris would be another notable landmark in a year which has already seen him reach the Australian Open semi-finals – his first appearance in the last four of a Grand Slam – and climb into the world’s top 20 for the first time.

Maturing Edmund seizes momentum after blip

Edmund is treading new ground at Roland Garros: his first Grand Slam as the British number one and his first as a seed.

The 23-year-old showed a ruthless streak in his opening match against promising Australian teenager Alex de Minaur, although that was not as evident – perhaps as a result of a finger injury which needed treatment – in the first hour of an erratic match.

Edmund eased through a rapid opening set which saw Fucsovics hit 15 unforced errors and only claim 15 points.

However, momentum completely shifted in the second set as a different Fucsovics reappeared after the changeover.

The Hungarian, making his debut in the Roland Garros main draw, gained a foothold in the match by breaking Edmund’s opening serve in the second set, the Briton’s game disintegrating as Fucsovics levelled in 34 minutes.

Yet the match took another twist.

Edmund dropped just four points to lead 3-0 in the third, breaking serve again in the eighth game to regain the lead.

He saved three break points midway through a tight fourth set, then took his first opportunity at 4-3 to leave him serving for the match.

And a long return by Fucsovics saw him take a second match point to book his place in the last 32.