What a difference a year makes!

Last year's party conference season saw the Conservatives riding what many believed to be an insurmountable lead with a new Prime Minister in the form of Theresa May and a new mission to take the UK out of the European Union. Meanwhile, the Labour Party was emerging from its second divisive leadership election in two years with Jeremy Corbyn facing a daunting challenge of uniting it to fight a general election.

As we prepare to decamp from Westminster to Brighton and Manchester, the parties have switched position. Labour are buoyed by a better-than-expected performance on 8 June, whilst Mrs May faces questions of a divided Cabinet, a lost majority and an hour glass running down on her time in Downing Street.

And somewhere in between all of that, the clock starting ticking on Article 50.

But this year's party conferences will not all be about the B-word. For the first time since Mr Corbyn took over, Labour could be within a whisker of taking power and the Conservatives have struggled to regain momentum since the election, relying on Parliamentary chicanery and propped up by a deal with the DUP.

With this in mind, what should transport professionals be looking out for at this year's conference fringes?

At Brighton, do not look to see a speech from Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald from the podium in the main hall. Time is being saved for Jeremy Corbyn and only four other senior Shadow Cabinet members to give more time for activists' contributions. Instead, look to see them on the conference fringe.

On Monday, you will be able to catch Mr McDonald, alongside new Transport Committee Chair Lilian Greenwood and Conservative West Midlands Mayor Andy Street for the event "HS2 - The Catalyst For A More Prosperous West Midlands". The following day, Mr McDonald will be appearing in the "Rail Interview" hosted by the Railway Industry Association. Finally, you can also look forward to the Greener Journey's fringe on "Choked Britain" to hear how to tackle pollution and congestion.

Attendees at Conservative Party Conference can look forward to speech from Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on the afternoon of Monday 2 October, following a panel discussion with the newly-elected Metro Mayors the party swept in May.

Away from the conference hall at Manchester Central, Roads and Local Transport Minister Jesse Norman will give his take on how to clean up road transport in a Policy Exchange fringe on Monday morning, whilst former Chancellor George Osborne will take part in "Devo Question Time" in the evening. Looking for something on Tuesday, you could attend Transport Times' own fringe "Growing the Railway and Delivering Capacity".

However, if you cannot make it to either, DeHavilland has got you covered! Our dedicated Content team will be covering hundreds of fringes in the next couple of weeks. For more information about our party conference coverage and other services, email: [email protected] or visit our website.