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Assurance sought from new owners of Knight & Lee site by City MP

Stephen Morgan MP today hosted discussions with the founders of THAT Group, the new owners of the Knight & Lee building.

The meeting, which took place in Parliament, was aimed at ensuring the new owners of the building have Portsmouth’s interests at heart. 

Mr. Morgan has stated:

“I was pleased to meet with THAT Group today following their public consultation that took place last night.

The creative ideas they have proposed seem promising and I look forward to future discussions to ensure that they are enacted.”

Stephen Morgan MP made efforts to push the fact that it is paramount the building remains a destination in the area and has retail opportunities to keep Southsea’s shopping area alive.  

The Portsmouth MP afterwards said:

“The idea to have a ground floor space that is likely to include retail, restaurants, bars and ‘pop ups’ is something that many people have said they would like to see in Southsea.

The footfall generated by this could benefit the local economy and the prosperity of other local businesses nearby.”

The purpose of the meeting, which follows weeks of correspondence, is to provide further information to feed into THAT Group’s preliminary plans and ideas prior to their submission for planning permission later this year.

It also served to outline the timescales within which THAT Group intends to act and as a means for the MP to get clarity on the proposed work.

Mr. Morgan has stated that:

“I thought it was essential to meet with THAT Group so that they could outline the full extent of their plans.

The closure of Knight & Lee could be highly detrimental to the city if the new developments do not fill the void left by the much-cherished stores closure. I wanted them to hear the constituents concerns directly.”

Whilst Mr. Morgan described the plans as promising, he has said that he is committed to working with all the stakeholders involved to ensure that the ideas are initiated, and the people of Portsmouth come first. 

Stephen Morgan has said:

“So far, I have spoken to John Lewis Head Office, written to the leader of the Council and now met with the founders of THAT Group.

I will continue to meet and liaise with all involved to protect our highstreets and the flourishing, vibrant community of independent shops in Southsea”.

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City MP bats for Portsmouth in summit with Defence Minister

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South heads to the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall to meet Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Stuart Andrew MP, Minister for Defence Procurement.

Following repeated lobbying of Ministers and calling for action by Government to invest in Portsmouth, today the city MP met with the Minister following his request to visit the Naval Base, and action to secure ship repair and maintenance work for local people, baseporting of the A31e class and a new dry dock in the city for the nation’s new carriers.

Since being an MP Mr Morgan has been raising a number of matters with the Government to help protect and create jobs in Portsmouth.

Today’s summit provided the opportunity to press the Minister on key defence issues relevant to Portsmouth and ensure that the interests of the city are heard by the Government.

The Royal Navy, local defence industry, trade union representatives and relevant charities were contacted by the MP in advance of the meeting with the Minister to liaise with them on the priorities to raise at the MoD.

Following the summit, Mr. Morgan stated:

“It is essential that jobs in my city come before party-politics. The importance of ensuring that Portsmouth remains at the forefront of discussions around defence procurement cannot be underestimated.

Portsmouth has long been described as the heart and home of the Royal Navy, it is my job to make sure it remains that way.”

The main issue discussed was the potential introduction of a dry dock in Portsmouth, following a recent question by the MP to the Secretary of State for Defence in the House of Commons. Stephen Morgan put the case to the Minister that Portsmouth would be an ideal location for such a development.

Stephen Morgan expressed:

“The dry dock would be worth at least £1bn to Portsmouth’s economy, it would generate over 100 jobs and would put Portsmouth on the map as being home to one of Europe’s largest dry dock facilities.

In today’s meeting with the Minister, I made It clear that Portsmouth would be the ideal home for such a development”.

Mr. Morgan also raised the matter of future frigate repair work and argued for Portsmouth to be named the city to carry out the work. If awarded to the city, it would be hugely lucrative and has the potential to generate a number of new jobs.

Another key point of the discussion was orientated around the A31e (GPFFs) contract. The A31e discussions stem from the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review and is part of a ship replacement scheme aimed at creating new ships to replace the Type 23 Frigates, vessels belonging to the Duke class.

A number of companies have been competing for the contract and following much government stopping and starting, the Portsmouth MP was seeking clarity for when the contract will be awarded.

Regarding A31e’s Mr. Morgan has said:

“There has been a distinct lack of clarity with regard to the A31e contract and the Government’s record on the A31e programme has not been a good one. The Ministry of Defence must ensure that costs and timings are kept under control. 

Sadly the department’s equipment plan is unaffordable and several projects are delayed. The National Audit Office has already found that the MoD’s 10-year plan to provide the armed forces with the equipment needed for the years to 2028 is not realistic and could potentially face a funding shortfall of £14.8bn.

It was reassuring to hear the Minister today say that the contract would be awarded by December 2019.

This national project is of local significance to Portsmouth. I will therefore keep a close eye on Government over this and continue to press Ministers to secure Portsmouth as the location for where the new ships will be based”.

Mr. Morgan also utilised the meeting to raise awareness of ‘The Sea More Appeal’ which focuses on relocating the Royal Marines Museum to the Historic Dockyard. He added:

“It was useful to speak to the Minister about The Sea More Appeal. He passed on some names of other colleagues who may be able to assist in the campaign and I will be reaching out to them this week in attempt to raise awareness of this pressing matter.”

 

Labour back amendment for final say

Responding to the Labour leadership’s tabling of a frontbench amendment that instructs the Prime Minister to negotiate the key elements of Labour’s alternative Brexit plan, city MP Stephen Morgan said:

“The Prime Minister is recklessly running down the clock, in an attempt to force MPs to choose between her failed Brexit deal and a disastrous no deal. I cannot, and will not, accept that on behalf of the people of Portsmouth.

If Labour’s alternative Brexit plan for a comprehensive and permanent customs union fails to win majority support in the House of Commons this week, tonight the party has set out it will put forward or support an amendment in favour of a public vote in order to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit.

I’ve been arguing for some time both locally and nationally that putting the decision back to the people for a final say, in a public vote, with the option to stay and keep the deal we already have, while at the same time ruling out a catastrophic no deal, is the right thing for Portsmouth. 

I therefore welcome tonight’s confirmation by the party’s leadership. We cannot afford to leave the biggest decision our country is facing since the Second World War in the hands of this failing Government.

People in Portsmouth must have their say”.

These commitments confirmed tonight underline that Labour accepts the referendum result, and would seek to negotiate a better deal, but also that the party will do everything in its power to prevent no deal or a damaging Tory Brexit.

 

 

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Portsmouth MP to host Fairtrade Fortnight event on International Women’s Day

£1.86 is the amount a cocoa farmer in West Africa needs to earn each day in order to achieve a living income. Currently, a typical cocoa farmer in Cote d’Ivoire lives on around 74p a day. Almost all cocoa farmers in West Africa live in poverty.
Stephen Morgan MP for Portsmouth South recently met with local Fairtrade activists in his constituency office to hear more about this battle for justice. Following the meeting, the MP raised the pressing matter in parliament with a series of written questions and is hosting an event in Fairtrade Fortnight to raise awareness in the city
Mr. Morgan has said:
The fact that this campaign is running alongside international women’s day is key. Like many contemporary issues, women are disproportionally affected by unjust pay in West Africa.
That is why it is key we secure a living wage for the farmers who produce our favourite snacks.”
Mr. Morgan is hosting a Fairtrade coffee morning on Friday 8 March to raise awareness for the campaign and gather local momentum for the cause.
The coffee morning is open to members of the public and will take place between 10:00 and 12:00 in his constituency office at 72 Albert Road, Southsea. The event is free and anyone is welcome to attend.
On the coffee morning, Mr. Morgan has said:
“I would encourage constituents to take part by buying Fairtrade products, not many problems can be solved by eating chocolate, I am glad that this one can.
If you care about equality, fair wages and the fight against poverty, then this is something to get involved in.”
The Fairtrade coffee morning will be attended by representatives from the local Fairtrade Forum and stakeholders within the constituency. It will be a chance for organisations to learn about how they can do their bit and what the trajectory of the campaign is.
The Portsmouth born MP has made efforts to ensure that this cause has a voice in Parliament.
Last week, he asked the minister for trade what steps his department was taking to support the campaign and Mr. Morgan will be attending an event in Westminster hosted by the Fairtrade Foundation on February 27.
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High streets: Government can do more, and our council can do better

Dated policies and an unfair tax regime must be reformed to create an environment that will allow high streets and town centres to flourish in the future, a report published by Parliament’s Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has found.
The report has been welcomed by Stephen Morgan MP, who has been calling for action on Portsmouth’s dwindling high streets.
The committee’s report sets out a bold vision for the high street based on locally led strategies, developed with local communities and businesses at the centre, and reflective of evolving commercial and economic patterns.
City MP Stephen Morgan has been calling on the government to act to bring our high streets back from from the brink, and urging action locally by the council.
Responding to the report, the Portsmouth South MP said:
I welcome the select committee’s call on the Government to initiate reform in key planning and taxation areas.
This must include the options of an online sales tax and reforms to business rates, to allow high streets to adapt to changing demand, and compete with online retailers such as Amazon on a level playing field”.
The select committee says high streets and town centres must adapt, transform and find a new focus in order to survive.
Stephen added:
Business rates are stacking the odds against high street retailers. The Government must initiate reforms to provide meaningful relief to high street retailers, including giving consideration to proposals for an online sales tax to level the playing field.
Achieving large-scale structural change will require intervention led by our council, in collaboration with business and local communities, backed by funding and new powers from central government.
The Government can do more, and our council can do better. We need ambitious leadership on the city council which has the foresight to develop a strategy which reflects local concerns and drives the large-scale transformation Portsmouth’s shopping areas so desperately need”.
Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Clive Betts MP added:
In recent years, high streets and town centres have faced extremely challenging times. 
We have seen the collapse of a number of well-known, national high street chains, with many more undergoing restructuring or being bought out. The growth of online shopping has profoundly changed retail in the UK, and the knock-on impact on high streets has been stark.
It is likely that the heyday of the high street primarily as a retail hub is at an end. However, this need not be its death knell. 
Local authorities must get to grips with the fact that their town centres need to change; they need to innovate, setting out a long-term strategy for renewal, reconfiguring the town centre and finding new ways of using buildings and encouraging new independent retailers”.
 
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MP praises Portsmouth Scouting on Founder’s Day

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has praised the Scouting movement on the birthday of Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting.
Former Scout and City MP has marked Founders Day by thanking the Scouting movement that has supported young people for over a hundred years. Stephen Morgan MP has joined the worldwide celebration on February 22.
With over 460,000 young people aged 6-25 enjoying fun and adventure each week, Stephen Morgan MP has thanked the movement for developing the skills they need to succeed, both now and in the future.
Stephen feels proud that last year in Portsmouth South alone over 327 young people took part in Scouting and were encouraged to ‘do more, learn more and be more’.
Commending the Scouting movement for promoting teamwork, leadership and resilience Stephen has praised the skills that have helped Scouts become everything from teachers and social workers to astronauts and Olympians.
Citing a 2018 report that says Scouts are 17% more likely to show leadership skills and work well in teams Stephen has thanked local volunteers for their work in helping young people to develop and improve key life skills.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
“On Founders Day it is an absolute pleasure to join Matt Hyde, Chief Executive of The Scouts in thanking all the volunteers who make Scouting possible here in Portsmouth South.
Scouting promotes diversity and creates stronger communities and we are lucky to have such a strong team of volunteers working here in our great city to inspire positive futures for our young people.
As a former scout I have experienced first-hand how the movement can bring people together. They develop character skills like resilience, initiative and tenacity; employability skills such as leadership, teamwork and problem solving; and practical skills like cooking and first aid. Scouts are a third more likely to support their communities too.
None of this would be possible without the generosity and commitment of our adult volunteers. Together, 160,000 adults across the UK supported 460,000 young people to gain these skills for life.
Research proves that being in the Scouts makes a lasting difference to young people’s lives. I welcome this opportunity to thank you all the volunteers for their time and commitment in making this possible.”
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Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan checks in at Wightlink Ferries

Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, found out more about Wightlink’s £45million investment in its Portsmouth to Fishbourne route, including port improvements and a new hybrid energy ship, on a visit to its terminal in Gunwharf Road.

He was met by Chief Executive Keith Greenfield and toured the port:

“We were delighted to welcome Stephen to Wightlink. He was interested in our route to Fishbourne and learned how we have been working to increase efficiency, reduce emissions and cut congestion in the city,” says Keith.

“As our local MP, and a customer on our FastCat service to Ryde Pier, he supports our call for the modernisation of Portsmouth Harbour railway station with improved facilities for rail customers”.

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Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It was really useful to visit Wightlink Ferries and have the opportunity to discuss with Chief Executive Keith Greenfield their plans for the future of the port in our great city.

Wightlink and its forerunners have provided ferry services to and from the Isle of Wight for more than 160 years and it was interesting to see how the vessels are keeping up with the changing times. I have fond memories of family holidays over the years on the Island and visiting there via the ferry company’s services. I was pleased to hear more of the company’s long history and how today the use of hybrid energy is benefiting the environment here in Portsmouth.

It was good to see for myself the measures put in place to cut noise and light pollution for the local community and hear about the popular apprenticeship programme which is offering young people from our area the opportunity to learn skills related to the industry.”

Wightlink carries more than 4.5 million people a year to and from the Isle of Wight on three routes – two of them link the Island with Portsmouth. The ferry company’s new flagship Victoria of Wight uses hybrid energy, combining batteries with conventional power, and can carry 178 cars and more than a thousand passengers on each journey.

 

 

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City MP welcomes developers consulting on the future of Knight & Lee building

Following correspondence stretching over a 4-week period, the Portsmouth MP has received assurances from THAT Group that the future of the Knight & Lee building will be in line with the interests of the people of Portsmouth.

THAT Group has confirmed that the building will be home to bespoke office space, retail opportunities and a food and beverage hub.

On the matter, Mr Morgan stated:

“I welcome the news from THAT Group expressing that they have taken on board my letter sent to them last month urging them to consider the impact of the closure on Portsmouth.

Their proposals for the building, at this stage, take into account the vital role the store plays in Southsea”

The Portsmouth MP has organised a meeting with the CEO of THAT Group and the senior management team next week.

On the meeting, Mr Morgan has said:

“I will be meeting THAT Group next week and seeking assurances that the heart of Southsea will remain intact and that the ideas and concerns relayed to me by constituents are shared”

THAT Group have agreed to consult the local community and have issued a newsletter invitation to 2,500 surrounding homes and businesses.

The newsletter supplies information on the proposals for the building and invites constituents to attend a public exhibition on Monday 25 February 2019 at Southsea Library between 16:00 and 19:45.

Mr Morgan has said:

“Following my letter, I am pleased that they are now consulting the local community.

Engaging with the people who will be most affected by these changes is essential to making sure Southsea’s vibrant, diverse high street continues to function to a high standard.”

Mr Morgan encourages local people to have their say and to attend the meeting on 25 February 2019.

 

 

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Portsmouth MP keeps pressure on Government for dry-dock investment in city dockyard 

Today, the Portsmouth MP pressed the Secretary of State for Defence in the House of Commons to set out the decision-making process for dry-dock facilities for the new carriers
The introduction of a new dry-dock facility for the nation’s carriers in the city’s Naval Base would be highly beneficial for Portsmouth’s economy says Stephen Morgan MP, creating and protecting hundreds of jobs and could bring in £1bn to the city over a 10-year period. 
The city MP used Defence questions in the Commons to press the Government into revealing more information about Ministerial plans.
Stephen said:
“A new dry-dock facility for HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales would secure Portsmouth on the map as home to both the Royal Navy and one of the most advanced dry-docking facilities in the world.
It is the obvious place to build such a facility both strategically and historically.”
Mr Morgan specifically asked the Secretary of State for Defence for a timeframe within which the decision would be made.
Regrettably the Secretary of State declined to confirm this in the House today, instead offering a meeting between the city MP and Defence Procurement Minister already scheduled. 
In the coming weeks, Mr Morgan has already arranged to meet Stuart Andrew MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Ministry of Defence.
The Portsmouth MP went on to say:
I have already arranged to meet with the Minister in the coming weeks to push for Government investment in Portsmouth. Our city needs it’s fair share of work for our nation.
Whilst I’m grateful for the Secretary of State’s warm words about Portsmouth today, dockyard workers and industry need answers and certainty.
I will continue lobbying Ministers to protect Portsmouth jobs and our local economy and pushing for a decision on a dry dock in our city.
With the nation’s carriers baseported here, it makes perfect business sense for the dry-dock to be here too”.

Resignations from the PLP

Statement from Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, responding to resignations from the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) today, said:

“I am saddened by the news today. Colleagues are skilled parliamentarians and effective campaigners with so much more to offer progressive politics.

It is important we take stock and have time to reflect on why resignations have taken place.

When our schools are being cut, crime is rising yet we have fewer police officers, health and social care services we all rely on are in crisis, Brexit is in chaos and we have increasing poverty and homelessness, we need to be united as a party in fighting for a Government that will rebuild our communities and create a fairer, more equal Britain.

I will never be distracted in the aim to end Conservative austerity which has caused misery for so many in our great city and will continue to work hard to make people’s lives in Portsmouth better”.