Robert Hampton

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25th December 2014

Home for Christmas
Posted by at 12.32pm | Liverpool | No responses

Christmas Day this year comes after a fortnight of grim news, what with the Sydney siege, the Pakistan school massacre and the lorry accident in Glasgow.

Amidst all the sad news, it’s worth remembering that human beings, as a species, are generally good. There are many people out and about this Christmas helping those less fortunate. The Whitechapel Centre, for one, are out and about on the streets of Liverpool this Christmas. They will be giving support and advice to the homeless and, today, serving Christmas dinner to rough sleepers.

It’s definitely an organisation worth supporting. I can’t think of many things worse than spending this time of year on the streets – surrounded by festive cheer, yet strangely apart from it all. For those who are taking time out of their Christmas Day to help others, I salute you.

Merry Christmas everybody!

8th August 2014

Screen Giant
Posted by at 9.40pm | Liverpool | No responses

The best way to relive the Giant Spectacular is, undoubtedly, via my shaky mobile phone footage. Enjoy!

8th June 2014

Expanding Pool
Posted by at 12.57pm | Liverpool | No responses

There’s a lovely piece in today’s Observer: Liverpool Reopens For Business

Max Steinberg remembers that it was a struggle to get a single busload of investors to come to Liverpool in 1981. He was working for Michael Heseltine, the Conservative minister who took charge of reviving the city after the Toxteth riots. Some Tories talked of abandoning the former imperial powerhouse to “managed decline” and it seemed the business world agreed.

So Steinberg is more than encouraged that, from Monday, “the world is coming to Liverpool”. Now chief executive of the city’s economic development agency, Liverpool Vision, he has overseen the organisation of Britain’s biggest-ever business fair. At least 75,000 people are expected to come to the Liverpool Festival for Business, a seven-week jamboree that the government hopes will trigger £100m of foreign investment over the next decade.

For me, the most encouraging aspect of the article is its mention of the tech start-ups that are flourishing in the Baltic Triangle area. It’s great to think that, when I get my computing degree in a few years time, I may be able to make use of it without leaving the city.

It’s not all good news: there are still many pockets of acute deprivation, and Government cuts are threatening to choke Liverpool’s recovery just as it was gaining momentum. But this place is on an upward trajectory, and that’s great to see.

18th February 2014

Posted by at 10.09pm | In the News, Liverpool | 1 response

The Liverpool Echo reports on farcical scenes at a meeting to sort out arrangements for the new “super-council” to govern the whole region. The new body will see the individual councils working together to develop the area for their mutual benefit.

However, they have fallen down at the first hurdle: choosing a name. The Liverpool contingent reportedly wanted something along the lines of “Liverpool City Region”, to take advantage of the name of the city famous for giving the world the Beatles, Ken Dodd and Brookside. However, some other members were reportedly not happy about this. Personally, I suspect the Sefton lot – the sort of people who still sniffily give their address as “Southport, Lancashire“.

Anyway, the Government has stepped in to separate the fighting children and come up with an excellent compromise. As the Echo reports:

So because the councils couldn’t all agree, Whitehall chiefs have stepped in and decided on the tongue-twisting title of the Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral Combined Authority.

That’s HKLSHSWCA for short. It rolls right off the tongue. WELL DONE EVERYONE.

This very much reminds me of the first episode of every series of The Apprentice, when the teams both squabble over what name to give themselves. The whole region comes out of this looking terrible – if people can’t agree on a name, what are the chances of them managing to do anything else?

I’m annoyed, because HKLSHSWCA was my wi-fi password (I chose it because it was easy to remember), and now I’ve had to change it. Also, “HKLSHSWCArail” is going to look terrible on the side of the region’s trains.

A plague on all their houses – the councillors from the Areas of Runcorn, Southport, Edge Hill, Otterspool, Litherland, Everton and Stoneycroft should hang their heads in shame.

All IMHO of course. E&OE.

26th November 2013

It’s beginning to look a lot like…
Posted by at 9.43pm | Out and About | No responses

Excellent window display in the Clayton Square branch of Tesco Metro…

Tesco Clayton Square Coke Can Santa Ho Ho Ho

Surely the best use of Coke cans ever seen? Well, aside from actually, you know, drinking them.

26th August 2013

A Roby Illustrator
Posted by at 11.54pm | Trains | 1 response

Under the streets of London, tunnel boring machines are slowly carving out a new east-west route across the capital. Crossrail will provide a vital new railway route, making cross-London connections easier and taking pressure off overcrowded Underground stations.

A predictable complaint from some quarters is that London’s transport infrastructure is receiving investment while the rest of the country is ignored. But a quieter revolution is taking place in the north-west of England, and for tangible evidence of it, you need look no further than Roby, a small station in the suburbs of Liverpool.

Roby Station 1

This pile of bricks and soil may not look too promising, until you consider that until a few months ago this area contained nothing but weeds. These are the remains of Roby’s third and fourth platforms, removed when the railway line here was reduced from four tracks to two in the 1970s. At the time, rail traffic was in decline and two tracks were sufficient to accommodate the remaining trains.

Now, however, the tide has turned. Passenger numbers are up and a cursory glance at Northern Rail’s Twitter feed will tell you that commuters are increasingly fed up about being crammed into small, slow trains. The powers-that-be want more trains, running more frequently, and faster. To this end, Network Rail is working to reinstate a third track between Roby and Huyton. This additional track will permit express trains to overtake local stopping services, greatly increasing the number of trains that can run on the line. Should the Northern Hub scheme go ahead in its entirety, the fourth track will also be put back.

When these works are completed, TransPennine Express will operate a Liverpool to Newcastle service via this route. It will run non-stop from Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Victoria, giving a journey time of just 30 minutes between the two cities. Compare with the current fastest journey time of 43 minutes (from Liverpool to Manchester Oxford Road). The train suddenly looks like a much more attractive proposition than the car.

More is to come: by 2015, this entire route will be electrified, and most of the old diesel trains will be gone, replaced by “new” electric trains (actually, refurbished trains from Thameslink). The Class 142 Pacers, wholly unsuited for this route, will finally be consigned to history.

Roby Station 2

There are already benefits to Liverpool from this scheme. In preparation for the revamped timetable, Northern Rail have reopened the train depot at Allerton in south Liverpool, employing local people in engineering roles. Meanwhile, TransPennine have opened a new train crew depot at Liverpool Lime Street.

It’s great to see real, tangible improvements taking place on the route once travelled by George Stephenson’s Rocket. Exciting times lie ahead…

16th March 2013

Liverpool Resurgent

Three GracesOf all the happy happenings over the past decade, one of the best, as far as I am concerned, is the continuing regeneration of Liverpool.

Back in 2003, when Liverpool won its Capital of Culture title, many were sceptical that the city could deliver.

Certainly eyebrows were raised in 2004, when Liverpool Biennial put up pictures of naked female breasts and genitals in the city’s main shopping streets.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: nipples and vaginas are excellent in the right context, but not flapping around on a banner outside the Carphone Warehouse.

The above blog post comes from a far off time when nudity offended me.

There was trouble behind the scenes, as Merseytram, the showpiece transport scheme that was supposed to be up and running for 2008, was cancelled after months of political squabbling and setbacks. My insightful reaction? “Oh, poo.” Having said that, I have a feeling it would have ended up a shambles, like the Edinburgh tram scheme.

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30th April 2012

Hampo Vlogs: The Liverpool Mayoral Election

Once more I have stared awkwardly at the camera while talking.

2nd October 2011

Bin There, Done That
Posted by at 11.57am | Politics | No responses

What’s got everyone involved in an animated discussion this week then? Why, it’s the always sexy topic of rubbish collection, as big-boned Government Minister Eric Pickles has announced that he is bribing councils to return to weekly collections:-

Last year, the communities secretary told the Daily Mail he was an ardent supporter of weekly bin collections, explaining: “It’s a basic right for every English man and woman to be able to put the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin without having to wait a fortnight for it to be collected.”

(Pickles wasn’t talking about himself in the above sentence, as he has clearly never thrown any food away, ever)

I’ll say this very quietly, because it will probably annoy certain people, but (whisper) I actually think weekly collections are appropriate. Now, it’s true that a home containing one or two people probably doesn’t produce enough waste to need a bin emptying every week, but there are four of us here at Castle Hampton and we generally manage to fill both our recycling and normal waste bins every week. Liverpool is one of the authorities which has stuck with weekly collections; if they went to fortnightly, I’m not sure we’d cope. Yes, I’m sure Captain Planet wouldn’t approve, but it’s not my fault that everything I buy is packaged in what seems like fifteen layers of cardboard and plastic.

There are a few things which bother me, however: first of all – we had £250m sitting around doing nothing? Where did they find this? Was it tucked away in Eric Pickles’s jowls? And, if we do have that money, is bin collection really a priority? Couldn’t we spend that money on schools or hospitals or something?

Secondly, one of the key policies of the Conservatives, as announced on their web page, states: “We are promoting the radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to councils, local residents and community groups.”

So it seems the Government’s policy is to give local authorities more devolved powers, except when the local authorities to do things the Government don’t like, in which case the government bribes them to change back. Well, that makes perfect sense.

18th July 2010

Liverpool on the Waterfront
Posted by at 11.04am | Liverpool | 1 response

This weekend Liverpool is hosting a variety of events based around the Albert Dock / Pier Head area, in Liverpool on the Waterfront. I spent a few hours there with my friend Andrew on Saturday afternoon. Despite the variable weather, we had a really good time. Liverpool is getting really good at these showpiece events, and it was good to see so many visitors in the city.

I also had the chance to give my new digital camera a workout and some of the best pictures are reproduced below for your viewing pleasure.

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