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Government response on rise in hate crimes branded ‘too little, too late’

Following a spate of homophobic hate crimes across the nation Stephen Morgan MP called on the Home Secretary to do more to safeguard our LGBT+ community. 

The Portsmouth MP raised this matter directly with Home Office Ministers in Parliament, shared concerns with the police and crime commissioner and received the support of hundreds of local people at Portsmouth Pride in June in calling for greater action by the Home Secretary.

After weeks of action, the city MP has finally received a response from the out-going Home Office boss.

Mr Morgan has now received a reply from the former Home Secretary, acknowledging the drastic rise in offences but offering little of substance when it comes to tackling the issue and arriving too late in the game to make a real difference.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It’s such a pity we have finally had a reply to our concerns in Portsmouth from the Home Office, in what must have been a penned response in haste.

The fact the former Home Secretary has waited until now to respond to my urgent inquiries is a case of too little, too late.

With a matter of this severity, we need to see action not rehashed action plans that failed to work the first time around. Hate crime against the LGBT+ community is rising.

When hate crime shows an increase of 27%, we saw a hideous violent incident in our city on Pride night and cases continue to plague our newspapers, is this a legacy that the Home Secretary can be proud of? I think not.

Acknowledging that there is a problem is one thing, but I fear that when our Police forces have been slashed by 20,000 since 2010, they are not able to deliver on their proposals.

The new team in charge at the Home Office must do better but I don’t have much hope”.

There has been much widespread criticism of the way in which hate crime cases are dealt with under the current Government. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found inadequate responses in 89 of 180 cases it reviewed.

The watchdog said it took an average of five days for police to visit 73 victims, while 65 were not seen at all.

Mr Morgan added:

“If we are to stand up to hate and bigotry, we must be able to do so with faith in our justice system. We must stamp out this stain on our society and demonstrate that we are a nation of hope, compassion and diversity not hatred and ignorance.

We find ourselves at a time when Tory peers have openly said that the new Prime Minister is likely to make ‘hate crime more likely’.

Now more than ever we must see comprehensive plans to tackle it and leadership from those in new positions of power”.

The Portsmouth South MP has vowed to keep raising this matter in Parliament.

 

Portsmouth MP demands ‘detailed and robust’ funding plans for Portsmouth International Port

In a bid to cut through the constant onslaught of soundbites and vague half-pledges emanating from the newly formed Government, Mr Morgan has demanded clarity from the Brexit Secretary when it comes to what and how much will be given to Portsmouth with regard to no deal preparations.

Mr Morgan’s forceful letter to the Brexit Secretary comes following fresh claims from Government frontbenchers this week that, “No deal is now a very real prospect” and Chancellor Sajid Javid’s comments that there would be “significant extra funding” for 500 new Border Force officers and “possible” improved infrastructure at British ports.

Mr Morgan said:

“For many months now, I have been working with Portsmouth International Port, the Local Resilience Forum and local community leaders in a bid to get to the bottom of the implications of a no deal for our city.

I have written countless letters to the Department for Transport, the Brexit Department and the Ministry of Housing, communities and Local Government.

The answers have been chaotic, disorganised and inconsistent and have demonstrated a complete lack of understanding for Portsmouth’s unique situation.

Today I have asked for an end to this regime of uncertainty. I have demanded information on what reimbursement mechanism to recover the future costs of no deal Brexit is in place, which department will be reimbursing our city and how much we will be getting. We need answers to these questions now.”

Mr Morgan has consistently said that no deal would be disastrous for the city, agreeing with major employers such as Airbus and with comments made by the CBI that uncertainty surrounding Brexit is ‘crippling UK business investment’.

As a result, Mr Morgan has maintained pressure on the Government to provide funding for these preparations so that the people of Portsmouth do not bear the brunt of poor planning.

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan said:

“No deal Brexit poses significant risks, as identified by the Local Resilience Forum, to our city in terms of congestion arising in and around PIP. To demonstrate this point, in March Portsmouth City Council hosted briefing discussions where BAE said that they were so concerned about the impact of congestion that they were rescheduling their maintenance plans for the Royal Navy fleet.

Portsmouth City Council has spent £1m in set-up costs for W4 at Tipner as part of the Operation Transmission. In the event of a no-deal, there will considerable additional cost.

I want to see Government funding given to our city so that our council coffers are not decimated by poor planning and a refusal to acknowledge the disastrous consequences of a no deal for Portsmouth”.

 

City MP calls on new PM to be a statesman and apologise to Portsmouth people 

In 2007, then Mayoral candidate and education spokesman Boris Johnson was chauffeur-driven to Portsmouth where he made ill-informed and inaccurate claims about the city.

Today, Stephen Morgan MP demanded an apology.

The new appointed Prime Minister claimed that [Portsmouth is] “too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs.”

On the premier day of the Prime Minister’s leadership, local-born MP, Stephen Morgan has written to him outlining the cuts his city has faced under the Conservative and Lib Dem regime of austerity and demanding an apology for his previous insults.

Stephen Morgan MP said:
“Under the Tories, Hampshire has lost over 1000 police officers. Portsmouth’s schools are losing £3.7 million. Our local authority has seen the local services we all rely on slashed by 48 percent since 2011, equating to £73m.
To say such things about Portsmouth, when representing a party that has consistently done everything in its power to rip the heart out of the community, is highly offensive to our great city.
Mr Johnson hasn’t won the support of our country nor will he win the support of our city. To earn respect, he needs to demonstrate he’s a statesman with his words and his deeds.
I have demanded an apology for Portsmouth and now that Mr Johnson is in a position of power with the privilege of high office, urged him to show leadership and transform lives by investing in Portsmouth and its people.
Will he do this? I am not so confident.”
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Labour to revolutionise local services putting people at the heart

Decades of forced outsourcing of local services have hollowed out councils and left communities with little control over key public services says Stephen Morgan MP.

Backing a commitment to reverse the trend of public services being outsourced to private providers and bring these services back ‘in house’, to be delivered by the public sector city MP Stephen Morgan has backed announcements by Labour to revolutionise local public services.

Criticising the “scandal” of “rip off” outsourcing of key public services the Shadow Chancellor and Shadow Communities Secretary are committing Labour to ‘insourcing’ the delivery of key public services to improve services, save taxpayers’ money and increase democratic accountability of public services.

Labour’s plans will roll back decades of orthodoxy that have seen local councils forced into outsourcing the delivery of key public services to private companies, including construction and maintenance work, bin collections, cleaning, school dinners, playing field maintenance and the management of local leisure centres.

Announcing the plans, Labour have also criticised the legacy of decades of outsourcing in local government, with private companies failing to uphold their contracts to deliver services, standards deteriorating and the taxpayer picking up the bill.

Under the new plans, Labour will:

  • Legislate to ensure that local authorities review all service contracts when they expire;
  • Legislate to create a presumption that service contracts will be brought back inhouse and delivered by the public sector unless certain conditions and exemptions are met;
  • Empower citizens and community groups by giving them the right to request information from councils showing that any outsourcing decision is consistent with these criteria;
  • Transform the legislative framework around outsourcing contacts by making them subject to the Human Rights Act and the Freedom of Information Act and introducing a new set of minimum standards in contracts where outsourcing has to continue, including a fair wage clause, trade union recognition, support local labour and supply chains, annual gender pay audits and time-limited contracts;
  • Support local government in delivering these changes by providing a model contract (to save councils time and resources), access to the Government Legal Department for contract management and greater support for collaboration amongst councillors.

Democratising Local Public Services: A Plan for Twenty-First Century Insourcing – Labour’s blueprint for a radical overhaul of local government – was announced at an event in London held by Labour’s Community Wealth Building Unit, a network of councillors and experts working together to rebuild local economies, renew faith in local services and deliver a renaissance of local government in communities across Britain in the face of austerity.

Newly appointed Shadow Communities Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Decades of forced outsourcing of local services have hollowed out councils and left communities with little control over key public services.

The current law is stacked against councils taking back control and heavily tilted in favour of outsourcing.

Yet across our country Labour councils are leading the way in taking back control of local services, and showing that inhouse delivery improves service delivery while saving money.

That’s why I back my party’s pledge to see an end to the privatisation circus and put the power with the people proven to be most effective: local communities”.

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP said:

“After year upon year of failures the public has rightly lost confidence in the privatisation of our public services and the carve up of the public realm for private profit.

The government’s ideological pursuit of privatisation and outsourcing has seen the public pay the price as fat cat bosses count their profits.

It’s time to end the outsourcing scandal which has seen private companies rip off the taxpayer, degrade our public services and put people at risk whilst remaining wholly unaccountable to the people who rely on and fund these services.”

Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary Andrew Gwynne MP said:

“Labour will end this racket and ensure that our vital public services are delivered in the interests of the people our local authorities are here to serve, not in the interest of outsourcing firms’ profit margins and wealthy shareholders.

People are more important than profit, and our public services belong to local people.

Labour will set out in law that inhouse delivery of public services delivered by the public sector will be the default option for councils.

In government, Labour will boost local economies by spending taxpayers’ money on local suppliers and local workers, and we will support councils as they deliver radical change and give power back to our communities.

Our plan is a plan for public services run for the many, not the private interests of the few.”

Portsmouth MP backs commitment to eliminate in-work poverty

Stephen Morgan MP has expressed support following a speech made by Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell MP.

The speech, which pledged that the next Labour government would end in-work poverty over the course of a parliament, secures Labour’s position on ending what the Joseph Rowntree Foundation referred to as “the problem of our times”.

Shadow Communities Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We know that In-work poverty has risen to around one-in-five people in working households, meaning that it is harder and harder for Portsmouth families to make ends meet.

I welcome the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer’s commitment to end this modern-day scourge.

Working families are the backbone of this nation, it is wholly unjust that dedicated, conscientious people are bearing the brunt of this Government’s austerity measures.”

The speech forms part of Labour’s long-running war on poverty in all its forms. In June, the party announced a new Social Justice Commission to replace the Social Mobility Commission, with a new Minister for Social Justice based in HM Treasury.

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell MP said:

“We need a structurally different economy, a social safety net of shared public service provision, and of course a financial safety net as well.

Without any one of these three elements, we will not be able to achieve the sustained eradication of poverty, the dramatic narrowing of inequality, and the transformation of people’s lives that will be the central purpose of the next Labour Government.”

Labour’s three-pronged attack, outlined by the Shadow Chancellor seeks to make public services free at the point of delivery and funded by fair taxation, deliver structural changes to the economy in the form of public regional banks and a new industrial strategy, and create a strong social safety net by reviewing the nation’s social security system.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“The role that local government will have in these comprehensive plans set out by the Shadow Chancellor will be extensive. Many working families will be employed in local services while others will be in receipt of them.

In my new role as Shadow Communities Minister, I look forward to working alongside colleagues in the Shadow Treasury team to eliminate the scourge of in-work poverty faced by our nation.”

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Newly appointed Shadow Minister for Communities pays thanks to all council officers

Stephen Morgan MP, who was appointed to a Shadow Ministerial position within the Communities and Local Government team earlier this week, has made his agenda clear by sending an open letter to all council officers.

The letter expressed gratitude to the local authority workers, explicitly thanking them for their often-unrecognised services to the nation.

Mr Morgan said:

“Council workers are the unsung heroes who keep our communities safe.

From making sure the food we eat in restaurants is acceptable to keeping our neighbourhoods clean and maintained – their often-invisible work is the lifeblood of our nation.

I wanted to ensure that in my first move as Shadow Minister, I send out a clear message that their vital work is appreciated.”

Mr Morgan, who prior to becoming an MP spent 15 years working in local Government, cited his experience in play and leisure, community involvement, strategy and performance and other departments as his motivation for sending out the letter.

The Portsmouth South MP said:

“When I was first elected, I asked a council manager what advice he could give. His answer was plain and simple. Take notice of the vital work conducted by council officers.

With less money, less resources and more responsibility, councils across our great nation continue to deliver the much-needed services, day in, day out from cradle to grave.

Without this vital cohesive element, our communities would fall apart. It is an understatement to say that they are the glue that holds society together.”

Mr Morgan’s first act as Shadow Minister is an indication of where his priorities lie and demonstrates his commitment to ensuring that recognition is given to those who work at local authority level. While the letter expressed gratitude, it also included pledges upheld by his party.

Mr Morgan pledged:

“From Portsmouth to Penrith, up and down our country, council officers keep our communities running.

In this new role, I will work hard to give more money, more power and more support to councils across the country. “

Mr Morgan joins the Communities and Local Government team headed by Shadow Secretary Andrew Gwynne MP where he will work alongside Shadow Minister for Devolution and Finance, Jim McMahon and Shadow Minister for Planning Roberta Blackman-Woods.

 

City MP joins frontbench as Shadow Local Government Minister for Communities

Stephen Morgan MP has been appointed a Shadow Minister in Labour’s Communities Secretary’s team. Accepting the appointment, the Portsmouth MP vowed to speak up for forgotten communities and protect the vital local services we all rely on.

Having spent over 15 years working in local authorities as an officer across services such as play, leisure, community involvement, strategy and performance, voluntary sector liaison and commissioning, the new Shadow Minister understands the challenges faced by the local government sector.

Elected initially as a city councillor in Portsmouth in 2016, Mr Morgan went on to be elected the first-ever Labour MP for his home constituency of Portsmouth South in the snap general election of 2017.

Mr Morgan said:

“Local Government is the lifeblood of this nation. From keeping our communities safe to administering vital public services – the key role they play in our society is undeniable.

For too long cities like Portsmouth and others across this nation have been neglected and forgotten. Our communities have been stripped of assets, hitting the poorest hardest with vicious welfare cuts and a continued assault on local authorities by starving them of funding.

As Shadow Minister I relish the opportunity to work with Andrew Gwynne MP, a passionate advocate of local government to stand up for councils and their communities across the nation and fight back against the continued cuts perpetuated by the Lib Dems and Tories.”

Mr Morgan enters the frontbenches at a time when local government is facing unprecedented challenges. Central government funding for local authorities has been slashed since 2010, with city council coffers like Portsmouth losing 60 pence out of every pound they had previously received.

The now Shadow Minister for Local Government (Communities) added:

“From Portsmouth to Penrith, councillors across our country are battling cuts to services while simultaneously delivering innovative new ideas. Labour councils shield communities from the worst of the Government austerity agenda. The cuts to our budgets and services have been relentless.

Councillors and officers are demonstrating leadership in the most trying of times. I look forward to be an experienced listening ear to the sector and continuing cooperation with these hardworking and unsung heroes of our communities.”

Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary Andrew Gwynne MP said:

“I am delighted with the appointment of Stephen as a strong advocate for Portsmouth and local government to my frontbench team. Stephen is an excellent addition to the strong team standing up for communities and councils across our country.

I am pleased to have a voice from the south-east joining me in challenging the Tories’ disastrous record on local government. In order to return a Labour Government and transform Britain we need more strong voices from the south-east like Stephen in Parliament.

This is an important brief and I look forward to working with Stephen to raise issues from our forgotten communities and to protect the vital local services we all rely on”.

Stephen Morgan MP who has been working closely with the Shadow Communities team since being elected, has expressed strong support for Labour’s policy of putting local authorities back at the heart of society.

He said:

“We have seen 763 youth centres closed, over 700 libraries shut their doors for the last time, Sure Start and early years services have been cut in half, and one in five children are now growing up in poverty. Enough is enough.

Labour in power is where we see progress. I am proud to be part of a team that has pledged to see a million new homes built, 100,000 council and housing association homes with “genuinely affordable” rents. I am proud to be part of a team that has plans to overhaul the outdated business rates system and I am proud to be part of a team that puts the needs of the many before the needs of the few”.

The Shadow Minister’s appointment to the frontbench was announced today by the Leader of the Opposition’s Office.

Mr Morgan has stepped down with immediate effect from the Public Accounts Committee and as PPS to the Shadow Communities Secretary to fulfil the important role.

 

 

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City MP calls for ambition in wake of Portsmouth’s failed Future High Streets bid

News has broken that Portsmouth’s bid for £50 million as part of the Government’s future High Streets Fund has failed.

The fund, designed to support local areas’ plans to make their high streets and town centres fit for the future, would have been welcome as the city has faced major high street closures in recent times.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

 “I have long argued that the Government needs to do better, and the council do more, to bring our city’s high streets back from the brink.

Only this weekend we saw Knight & Lee and Portsmouth say good bye, with Debenhams set to go next and other stores in our city under threat.

We need a bold and ambitious plan to revitalise our city’s shopping centres, which is why Portsmouth Labour submitted positive budget proposals to get to the heart of the problem. Sadly, the Tories and Lib Dems voted it down, and continue to neglect our communities.

Raising the issue directly with the Prime Minister, hosting a roundtable with businesses to find solutions, calling for business rate reform, submitting parliamentary questions and writing to the Council Leader, I will continue to put pressure on the Government to invest and the Council to show leadership, to sort this pressing issue for Portsmouth once and for all”.

Portsmouth’s high streets have faced trying times, losing a number of major retail pillars and leaving the flourishing independent shopping scene vulnerable now that there is less footfall.

The Portsmouth MP has backed Labour’s five-point plan to reinvigorate the high street, including a major overhaul of the current business rates system.

Mr Morgan said:

“A major contributing factor to the decline of the high streets is the outdated and broken business rates system, we need to bring the current system into the 21st century.

That is why I proudly support Labour’s 5-point plan which would see a major overhaul and an end to retailers being hit unfair and unsustainable fees.”

Labours 5-point plan also includes free bus travel for all under 25s, free WIFI in city centres, an end to ATM charges and would establish a register of landlords of empty shops in each local authority.

 

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Portsmouth MP urges Minister to be bold and stand up for pensioners when it comes to free TV licences

During a Westminster Hall Debate relating to free TV licences for over-75s, Stephen Morgan MP spoke forcibly in favour of maintaining the benefit for pensioners.

The debate follows a Government led decision to revoke the universally free TV licence for over-75s and instead only allow those with Pension Credit the benefit.

The Portsmouth South MP said:

“This was an opportunity to voice the concerns of my constituents. Following my letter out to 10,000 people likely to be affected, I have had a steady stream of correspondence – including heart wrenching accounts of the loneliness and isolation that will ensue after the free licence has been removed.

I owe it to my constituents to make sure that the Minister responsible for these unjust changes is aware of the damage his Government is doing to Portsmouth pensioners.”

Mr Morgan’s speech forced the Government Minister to justify the policy change, particularly the notion of attaching the benefit to Pension Credit, which has been widely criticised by experts and MPs alike.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We know that around 1.3 million over-75s are eligible for Pension Credit but do not or cannot claim for the benefit. This means at least 650,000 of our poorest pensioners facing an ominous new annual bill they simply can’t afford.

The Government has not taken this into account and now those with the least are set to lose the most. I have urged the Minister today to be bold and stand up for hardworking-pensioners by halting the implementation of this regressive policy change.”

Another key message conveyed by the local born MP was the statistical data for how pensioners in his city will be affected. Mr Morgan has conducted his own research through listening to constituents who responded to his letter. He used the Westminster hall debate today to inform the Minister on how his city felt about these changes.

“We know that in Portsmouth South, from respondents of over 300, nearly 90% supported the continuation of the free TV licence.

Nearly 70% sighted loneliness as their main concern if the licence were to be revoked and over 30% considered themselves to have a mobility issue or disability that made getting out difficult.

What this suggests is that Portsmouth people, especially those facing mobility issues and loneliness, are very concerned.

The Government has made a serious misjudgement.”

This is not the first time that the Portsmouth MP has tried to put pressure on the Government to maintain the free TV licence for over-75s.

To date, he has written to the PM, asked the Minister responsible, met with Age UK and Portsmouth Pensioners Association, submitted a string of written questions and sent out 10,000 letters to residents.

On whether he will continue to campaign, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The battle against loneliness and isolation will go on. I will continue to raise this matter both in Parliament and in the constituency to ensure that those who are affected by these cruel, callous changes have a voice.

The Government has the power to make these changes, we have responsibility to show them the pain they are causing.”

 

 

 

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City MP hails ‘justice for leaseholders’ with new plans to cap excessive property fees

Stephen Morgan MP this week backed new plans to bring justice to constituents affected by the leasehold scandal.

A Labour report released this week includes proposals to cap unfair costs such as ground rents, investigate misselling and save local leaseholders thousands of pounds.

Leasehold ownership, most commonly found in flats, means purchasing a home for the duration of a long lease rather than owning it outright.

Homeowners who purchase a leasehold property are often faced with extortionate charges in the form of ‘ground rents’ or service charges and locked into restrictive contracts which were not properly explained.

New figures show an estimated 43.15 % of homes in Portsmouth South were sold as leasehold last year. Reforms to leasehold promised by the Conservative Government have still not been implemented, two years after they were first proposed.

The plans, set out in a consultation by Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey MP and Shadow Housing Minister, Sarah Jones MP, include a ban on the sale of new leasehold houses and flats.

Leaseholders will be able to buy the full, freehold ownership of their home for 1% of the property value, with ground rents in existing leaseholds capped at 0.1% of the property value, up to a maximum of £250 a year.

Labour’s proposals mean the average household in Portsmouth South would see their annual ground rent capped at £2040 with the cost of buying their freehold reduced to just £204 – according to analysis published by Shadow Secretary of State for Housing today.

Other proposals set out by Labour include:

  • A crack down on unfair fees and contract terms, and a right to challenge unfair fees or poor service.
  • New rights to empower leaseholders to hire and fire their managing agent, or to take over management of their homes themselves.
  • A promise to revitalise commonhold: an alternative to leasehold – forms of which are used successfully across the world.
  • The report also renews Labour’s calls for a full public inquiry into mis-selling in the leasehold market which saw thousands of properties sold with extortionate terms such as doubling ground rents, making them unsellable. 
  • Commenting, Stephen Morgan MP said:
  • “Under new proposals, leaseholders will be privy to a fairer, freer and a more economically sustainable system.
  • This crackdown will mean an end to unfair fees and contract forms as well as giving new rights for leaseholders to challenge poor service. 
  • Labour are committed to putting the power with the people who are most affected rather than the feudal system the Tories have been reluctant to change.”
  • Sarah Jones MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister said:
  • “Leaseholders have everything stacked against them. Too often they suffer extortionate fees, appalling service and restrictive contract terms, and no way to easily challenge them.
  • England is one of the only places in the world which has failed to move away from this feudal system. Across the world, modern alternatives like commonhold have flourished. 
  • Labour will improve and revitalise commonhold for flats, and make freehold mandatory for all new houses, as the Conservatives should have done years ago.”