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The PM is running scared of the people

Responding to news that Government will ‘prorogue’ Parliament, and following the signing of a cross-party ‘Church House’ declaration yesterday, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“The current Prime Minister’s reckless attempt to use Her Majesty The Queen to centralise power in his own hands is an insult to our great democracy.

We know a No Deal would have catastrophic consequences for UK jobs, our nation’s economy and it would decimate our NHS.

Brexit has already cost the UK £600m a week in lost growth whilst an estimated £1.5bn has been spent on preparations. It’s absolutely right we continue to work across party to stop a disastrous No Deal exit.

It is now clear that Mr Johnson is not only running scared of the people for not giving them a final say, but now running scared of the voice of the people in Parliament.

Yesterday I signed the Church House Declaration in defiance of a PM who is willing to bypass democracy and prorogue Parliament.

For the people of Portsmouth I will continue to work with others across party against this PM’s dangerous ego-driven campaign to remove the voice of the people at this time of national crisis.

I will do everything I can to stop Mr Johnson crashing our great country out of the EU with a No Deal”.

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“Climate change should be a core module in schools” – environment priority needed in curriculum says City MP

Stephen Morgan MP has set out demands to the Education Secretary that would see climate change taught as a core module across the UK.

The city MP’s calls for change come at a time when unprecedented numbers of climate change disasters have taken place and school children have flocked to the streets in protest against lack of Government action.

Mr Morgan said:

“Over 5,000 miles away the Amazon is ablaze, 20-30% of species are teetering on the edge of extinction and we are seeing record temperatures soar year on year. This is not some distant or disputed problem, this is happening right now.

If the Government does not take decisive action, there will be catastrophic consequences. I have written to the Education Secretary urging that climate change becomes a core module because it is his responsibility to equip the future generations with the skills to tackle climate change and the knowledge to live sustainably.

The current PM’s environmental track record has been flaky at best, while at the Foreign Office he presided over a 60% cut in climate attaches and his leadership campaign had close ties with the UK’s leading climate change denial group.

The Government must prove it is serious about tackling this issue and making climate change a core module in UK schools is a good place to start.”

Over 80,000 people have already signed a petition agreeing with Mr Morgan’s policy suggestion and it has been confirmed that the Labour Party would implement this change if elected.

Under the Labour Policy, the curriculum would focus on the skills and knowledge young people need to deal with the changing world, particularly in renewable energy and green technology jobs.

Stressing the importance of these curriculum changes, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“While issues surrounding climate change are taught up to 16 in Geography and Science, this does not go far enough.

School is about preparing the next generations for adult life, preparations and education around climate change should be a key pillar of that.

When dealing with issues of this magnitude, we need to work shoulder to shoulder and put party politics to one side. Yes, this is a Labour Policy, but is in the interests of everyone no matter their political perspective.”

Shadow Secretary of State, Angela Rayner said:

“We need to equip people with the knowledge to understand the enormous changes we face, and skills to work with the new green technologies that we must develop to deal with them.

“That must be part of a broad education and that prepares pupils for adult life. Climate change should be a core part of the school curriculum, and under a Labour government it will be.”

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City MP calls on new Veterans Minister to properly support our armed forces community 

Stephen Morgan MP has wasted no time in pressing the new Minister for Defence People and Veterans to extend the HM Forces Railcard to ex-service personnel. 

Currently, members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces enjoy the benefits of reduced rate rail travel with the HM Forces Railcard, a benefit recently extended to Reservists. Now the local MP has made fresh calls for this to go further.

Mr Morgan said: 

“This is a simple issue. The current HM Forces Railcard, offering discount rates to service people on UK trains, does not include veterans. I believe this is wrong.

I do not believe that we should differentiate between those who currently serve and those who have served when it comes to paying tribute or supporting our armed forces community.

It is not like the physical and mental scars subside after these individuals leave the military, why then should their support network?

I have written the Defence Minister in the hope that he shares this perception and, in the hope, that he will act decisively and rectify this current injustice.”

The HM Forces Railcard costs £21 and saves individuals 1/3 on most rail fares throughout Great Britain for a whole year. This works out at under £2 a month and if used regularly, has large-scale money saving qualities. 

Stephen Morgan MP said: 

“Across this nation, we are not properly supporting our veterans. Whether that is failing to offer bespoke, tailored mental health services or not properly implementing or improving the Armed Forces Covenant – the Government can do a lot more.

Making changes like extending the Forces Railcard to veterans is a step in the right direction and I will require serious explanation if the Government chooses to defy my recommendation.

I will continue to lobby all colleagues at the MoD until we see a system worthy of the brave men and women who have given so much to this nation.”

Stephen Morgan MP has long been a champion of causes close to the hearts of the force’s community. He has hosted a Westminster hall debate on Veteran Suicide, regularly meets with organisations such as All Call Signs in his constituency and has expressed a commitment to ensuring the forces community have a voice in Parliament.

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Bringing our high streets back from the brink: announcement welcomed

Welcoming news that Portsmouth has now been shortlisted for the Government’s ‘Future High Streets’ funding, city MP Stephen Morgan, who has long been campaigning for investment in the city’s shopping areas, 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. It’s a big issue affecting Portsmouth’s economy and our city’s communities which hundreds of people and local businesses have raised with me.
Last month we saw Knight & Lee say good bye to Portsmouth. With Debenhams closing, smaller stores in our city are also set to go. The area has already seen 1,600 shop closures in recent years affecting hundreds of local jobs.
I raised Portsmouth concerns in Parliament, lobbied senior Ministers and supported the submission of this bid for essential funding. I’m pleased these actions may be starting to pay off.
Today’s news is a step in the right direction, but investment is long overdue. With our city too often forgotten by Government what we need next is reform of the outdated and broken business rates system, and a government-led strategy to bring all our high streets back to the brink”.
A bid developed by council officers for Fratton and Commercial Road shopping areas has been shortlisted with detailed business cases now required by Government.
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City MP hits out at Government as veterans hounded over TV licences

Stephen Morgan MP has expressed disgust over news that 900,000 veterans will now have an additional bill to contend with.

As of next June, the Government has decided to betray pensioners by performing an unprecedented U-turn on their previous promise to safeguard benefits for over 75s.

The new rules mean that only those who receive pension credit will be eligible for the free TV licence. This leaves the door open to injustice, says city MP Stephen Morgan.

Mr Morgan said:

“Of the 80% of pensioners set to lose out, over 900,000 are brave veterans who have gone above and beyond to protect this great nation. How is the Government paying tribute to them? By leaving another hefty bill on their doorstep.

The fact that the Government has rescinded this vital benefit will mean that some veterans will now be hounded to pay for their TV licence.

At a time when Mr Johnson has just offered a tax cut to the highest earners, I find this morally repugnant.”

The policy U-turn has sparked outrage amongst charities such as Age UK and MP’s from across the house because the Conservatives pledged in their 2017 snap general election manifesto to maintain free TV licences for the rest of this Parliament, due to run until 2022.

The Portsmouth South MP said:

“Some of those veterans affected will have fought in Korea, The Falkland Islands, Bosnia, Iraq and other areas where they selflessly put themselves in harm’s way in the name of this nation. What sort of country have we become where the Government brutally strips away vital benefits one at a time from the individuals who have given the most?

I will not stand idly by while this Government acts like some kind of Twisted Robin Hood, taking from the citizens who give the most and giving to the highest earners.

I will continue to raise this matter both in and outside parliament until the Government realises the consequences of its ill-thought actions.”

Stephen Morgan MP has already taken decisive action against the implementation of the policy.

So far, he has written out to over 10,000 Portsmouth people in his patch asking for feedback, met with Age UK, spoken out in Parliament, delivered a speech in a Westminster Hall debate, voiced concerns with the Minister responsible and met with local pensioners groups.

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Library services stay open despite Tory cuts – Shadow Minister books in visit to Bristol Council

Newly appointed Shadow Communities Minister, Stephen Morgan MP has visited Labour-run Bristol Council to hear about the ground-breaking work they have been conducting to safeguard their libraries.

Guided by Mayor Marvin Rees, the Portsmouth South MP was shown exactly how under Labour leadership the council has been relying on fresh, innovate ideas to overcome national Tory austerity

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Since 2010, under the Tories, nationally some 100 libraries have closed each year. Here in Bristol, Mayor Marvin Rees’ Labour administration have kept every single library open and are investing in the service.

“Labour councils are facing budget cuts from the Government which are three-times worse than those faced by Tory authorities.

As I saw first-hand in Bristol, despite the continuing ideological austerity, Labour-run councils are protecting people’s services.”

Since the Tories came to power, 817 Libraries have been shut or handed to volunteers, leaving 3,660 struggling on as councils try to balance the books.

The latest figures show that more than 100 libraries a year are closing because of government cuts and a quarter of the budget for them has been axed in the past eight years, going from £1billion in 2010 to £741million last year.

Mr Morgan said:

“For some, libraries are a quiet haven to escape to. For others, they are a learning environment that could be the key to unlocking their potential.

From refugees trying to learn English upon arrival to this country to school children reading their first book on their own, the untold value that libraries hold in our communities and plethora of ways they enrich our society are unprecedented.

The vital work being conducted by Labour-led Bristol Council, that I have been fortunate to visit, is an example of local authorities standing in the face of Tory austerity and winning.

The fact that every library has remained open despite these savage cuts means that we must learn best-practice from the dedicated individuals responsible.”

Labour Mayor, Marvin Rees who accompanied the Shadow Minister said:

“I was delighted to welcome Stephen back to our city today, sharing how our Labour council is delivering for Bristol.

Working with local communities, we are proud to have protected each and every one of Bristol’s local libraries – extending opening hours and safeguarding them from central Government cuts.

“This is testament to our hard work to turn around the dire council finances which we inherited, and to our commitment to protecting frontline council services while cutting a million pounds a year out of council senior management.”

The Portsmouth South MP, who returned to his university stomping ground to observe these progressive strides, has expressed a commitment and preference for getting out and meeting people on the front line of service delivery.

In his first month on the frontbenches Mr Morgan has already visited two pioneering Labour councils, setting the precedent for an active time in office.

Commenting further on his visit, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It’s great to be in Bristol – a city that is thinking big about the challenges it faces. In Marvin and his team the city has strong local leadership and an ambitious plan for the future.

After nearly ten years of Tory austerity, £5.9 billion being stripped from local government by 2020, it’s good to see how despite challenging circumstances and inheriting a huge budget deficit, the Labour Mayor and Labour Council are delivering for Bristol’s communities and proactively working with others to create a fair, healthy and sustainable city.

Bristol is a special place for me, the city where I was the first in my family to go to university. It’s been really inspiring to see how through the One City Plan, Bristol is encouraging young people from often forgotten communities to aim high and give them the helping hand to achieve”.

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Hundreds flock to City MP’s bus bolstering local roadshow

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, has held a public consultation alongside First Bus for Portsmouth residents so that community members share their views. The event comes at a time when across the country people voice concerns over dwindling routes, soaring fares and reduced access.

The roadshow, which took place on Commercial Road, involved a static bus where residents could meet with the Portsmouth South representative and senior members of the First Bus team and saw people attend in their hundreds.

Mr Morgan said:

“Bus services are a vital lifeline for many within our community here in Portsmouth. Whether it is helping elderly people visit friends and family or providing those who live with a disability with independence – buses play a crucial role in connecting communities and fending off social isolation and loneliness.

This roadshow gave the people who use the services a platform to speak on the matters that concern them and ensured their voice is heard. As someone who does not drive and uses either buses or bicycle to get around our city, I know how important this is.”

Mr Morgan’s action on bus access comes at a time when the sector is under strain. Across the country over 3,000 bus routes have been cut or withdrawn while fares have risen at over twice the rate of wages, hitting the poorest hardest and particularly affecting the young, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The local MP said:

“This event was as useful to me as it was for my fellow community members. Not only did it provide them with the means to relay feedback, it has produced vital information on the key themes affecting local residents with regard to buses.

I am committed to ensuring that this feedback is utilised by First Bus and is taken back to Westminster where it will feed into correspondence with the Department for Transport and help influence my work as Shadow Communities Minister.

Portsmouth has seen 17% less bus journeys in the space of just one year making it the second worst affected city in the UK. I am a firm believer in getting out and speaking to people, that is the best way to address a community issue.”

At a time when the Conservatives have seen 3,000 routes cut, Labour has expressed a will to subsidise non-profitable but socially important bus routes, simplify ticketing options and make all bus travel free for under 25s.

Mr Morgan said:

“Our city has an issue with air quality, congestion and environmental degradation. Sustainable travel offers a viable solution to these problems.

I am committed to ensuring that access to buses for Portsmouth peoples remains high on the Labour agenda both in our city and in Parliament.”

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Councils are ‘instrumental in the fight against climate change’ – Shadow Communities Minister visits Oxford

In support of Oxford City Council’s leadership in tackling climate change, Stephen Morgan MP has spent time during recess with Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford, Cllr Tom Hayes learning more about what the city is doing to combat environmental degradation.

The newly appointed Shadow Communities Minister spent time with Oxford’s first cycling laundry service OXWASH, discussing green business models and how environmentally conscious local enterprises can proactively help cities go greener.

Shadow Minister for Communities, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The pioneering, progressive attitude towards climate change exhibited by Oxford City Council and organisations such as Oxwash embody the trailblazing spirit required to combat the world’s most pressing matter. The opportunity to meet with those who are on the front line, making the changes that our communities need, provides vital information on how local authorities can imorivements to our local areas. If we are to formulate a blueprint for change then it is integral that politicians get out to local authorities who have shown they are serious about tackling climate change and see for themselves the challenges and successes they have experienced.”

Mr Morgan’s visit to Oxford follows the city’s bold movements when it comes to combating climate change. The city council has made huge bounds by introducing the worlds first Zero Emission Zone from 2020, launched a charter for cleaner air alongside Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth, has proliferated the use of electric vehicles by introducing widespread charging points and made countless other changes at local authority level.

Mr Morgan said:

“Local authorities are on the coal face, providing services at the point of delivery and are therefore instrumental to combating environmental degradation and forging new pathways when it comes to making our communities greener. If we are to win this battle, it will be through our councils. At a time when local authorities across this nation have lost 60 pence out of every pound they previously received from central government, Labour run Oxford City Council has demonstrated tenacity, resilience and initiative. The opportunity to see this for myself and learn more about how we can share these practices and improve communities across the country is invaluable”.

The Shadow Minister has wasted no time in speaking to people on the ground and getting out to councils across the country. His visit to Oxford is the second since his appointment to the front benches less than a month ago – and included signing the city’s charter for cleaner air.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Having spent over 15 years working as a council officer is various departments, I have seen first-hand the integral part played by our local authorities. I relish the opportunity to get out and spend time with the people responsible for improving our communities so that best practice can be shared, and solid ideas learnt from. I commend Oxford for their commitment and delivery on cleaning up the city’s air. It was a privilege to show support for their leadership on this by signing their city’s charter”.

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City MP hosts event in bid to boost bus usage

Stephen Morgan MP, alongside one of Britain’s largest bus operators First Bus, are hosting a roadshow to take place on the 20 August on Commercial Road, Portsmouth.

The event, which will take place on board a static bus, will provide constituents with the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns on the current state of bus access and reliability in the city.

The Shadow Communities Minister and city MP will be joined by senior members of staff from First Bus to take on board feedback and to share ideas on improvements.

Stephen Morgan MP said:
“Greater use of public transport reduces congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions. Buses are crucial to the economic prosperity and social wellbeing of cities like Portsmouth and are a lifeline for our city’s communities.
I know from my discussions with people on the doorstep and through chatting to my family and friends in the area, there is room for improvement in our great city. This event is an opportunity for Portsmouth people to have their say on what works, what needs to be improved and what changes would make a difference to their everyday life. I want to hear from you.”
The consultation will take place on board a static First Bus on Tuesday 20 August, by the fountain in Commercial Road from 10:00 until 12:00.

The company often talks to the public about its services, but this event brings a new dimension with the Portsmouth South representative hosting.

The event follows the city MP writing out to hundreds of local people who may use buses to get round Portsmouth to hear their views on current services and to help identify areas of improvement.

He added:
“The sheer numbers of people who contact me about bus related issues indicate that this will be a well-attended event. I look forward to seeing many familiar and new faces on 20 August and to hearing ideas on how their can be better, easier and more widespread bus usage”.
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Power to revive Portsmouth’s high streets welcomed

Today Labour has set out new plans to give councils the power to reopen abandoned shops to “revive Britain’s struggling high streets.” The plan has been backed by Shadow Communities Minister and Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan.

The policy comes as latest figures show that over 10% of town centre shops are empty.

Under Labour’s proposals, Local Authorities will be able to turn “the blight of empty shops into the heart of the high street” by giving them over to start-ups, co-operative businesses and community projects.

Labour’s plans, which would apply to property left vacant for 12 months, would rejuvenate Britain’s high streets by bringing back into use some of the estimated 29,000 physical retail units which have been abandoned for more than 12 months.

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Andrew Gwynne MP, said:

“Under this Government, our high streets have suffered a retail apocalypse. High street closures are at a historic high, leaving too many of our once thriving towns abandoned and awash with boarded up shop fronts.

Labour’s radical plan will turn around the mess that the Tories have created and will give local authorities the power to make our high streets the pride of our communities that they once were.”

New Shadow Communities Minister, city MP Stephen Morgan, added:

“I have long argued that the Government needs to do better to bring our high streets back from the brink, but sadly, their record is one of failure. Thankfully Labour is showing leadership and taking action.

This is a positive step in the right direction – and welcome news for communities across the nation that are too often forgotten”.

Commenting on the impact of inaction by Government on Portsmouth, the city MP added:

“Hampshire alone has lost over 1,600 shops in recent years, and with that, hundreds of local jobs.

I have been raising the issue of our city’s declining high streets in the House of Commons, hosting a roundtable with businesses to find solutions, calling for business rate reform, submitting parliamentary questions and writing to the City Council Leader.

The Government must  invest time, effort and resources to finally sort this pressing issue in Portsmouth once and for all”.

Locally Portsmouth Labour proposed a £2.5m rescue package to rebuild the city’s communities and help bring back our high streets from the brink in February’s council budget meeting.

The positive plan for the city would help rescue the city’s shopping areas with dedicated support and resources, alongside a better integrated transport network. Sadly the Tories and Lib Dems voted down the plans.

Today’s announcement builds on Labour’s five point plan for Britain’s high streets, which includes a register of landlords of empty properties.