News

Former staff of a development quango were sent for patchwork, pottery and jewellery-making lessons at taxpayers’ expense, an investigation has found.

Christmas boost for high street

Retailers were expressing cautious optimism yesterday that a rise in pre-Christmas sales compared with last year might help offset poor sales throughout the past 12 months.

Nine cities 'need greater powers'

NICHOLAS SCHOON

First privatised rail line is agreed

Rail privatisation: First line moves into private hands as Stagecoach signs contract for South West Trains becomes trap Book locked to grid strap Book locked top grid

Demanding consumers shun the traditional high street

GLENDA COOPER

Harris unrolls carpet format

Carpetright, the rapidly expanding carpet retailer run by former Harris Queensway chief, Sir Phil Harris, is to roll out a new format in a bid to capture 20 per cent of the UK market.

Channel rail link costs soar

Channel rail link costs soar

Harpist busks it on way to the top

LIZ SEARL

Honey, I've shopped the kids

Children make shopping stressful for parents, which is why creches are now big business. By Karen Falconer

PICK OF THE DAY THIS WEEKEND

PICK OF THE DAY

A LESSON FROM A HERETIC

MASTERCLASS 4: RATATOUILLE; Eclectic, Paul Gayler calls his cooking; some may call his various ratatouilles heresy. But it's the classic French dish he teaches Michael Bateman

Magistrate slashes Gormans' charge list

Magistrate slashes Gormans' charge list

Sunday trade lifts profits

The introduction of Sunday trading is increasing the pressure on town-centre shops, accelerating the drift towards out-of- town retail sites, according to a survey to be published today.

Banham quits in row over reform of counties

Sir John Banham, the man in charge of controversial plans to reorganise local government, resigned yesterday as the Government announced a big change in direction for the long-running review.

Rebel MP faces legal action by planners

Thurrock Council last night voted to go ahead with legal action against Teresa Gorman, the Tory MP for Billericay, rejecting a motion by the Essex council's Conservative group to drop the case and despite a threatened picket by the rebel MP herse lf, writes Jojo Moyes.

ON THE ROAD WITH THE BIG BOYS

Lorries and lorry-drivers are the outcasts of the road: ugly, threatening, dirty. Yet some see a strange beauty in their rough trade. This is the story of a writer whose enthusiasm for trucks became an irresistible obsession...
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future