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Covid-19: City MP teams up with Hive Portsmouth to protect access to vital goods for vulnerable people 

In response to supermarket shelves being laid bare of essential goods due to unnecessary stockpiling and panic buying, Stephen Morgan MP has taken steps to protect access for city’s most vulnerable working alongside Hive Portsmouth.

Mr Morgan has written out to over 50 supermarkets and food stores across the Portsmouth South constituency, thanking retail staff for their efforts at this time of crisis and asking store managers to take two simple steps which could help save lives.

The Portsmouth South MP said:

“I firstly want to convey my heartfelt thanks to the store workers working for the good of our community. They are playing a crucial role in keeping the nation fed and supplied at this time of uncertainty and emergency. While many are at home, they are on the frontline making a difference where it matters. We all owe them a debt.

I have had reports of older community members left crying in the aisles because they can’t access essential goods. We’re all in this together and cannot leave anyone behind, let alone our most vulnerable.

I urge all Portsmouth people to think before panic buying or stockpiling. People should only buy what goods they and their family need. There is plenty to go around, but people need to be mindful of their behaviour.

In writing out to every supermarket and food store in the constituency, I hope to both inform supermarkets of the problem and connect them with Hive volunteers – local people giving up their time for free and working relentlessly for the good of the community.”

Mr Morgan’s action firstly asks supermarkets to allow time for Hive volunteers to access priority goods for older people before shelves can be stripped. This is so ‘care bundles’ of essential goods can be assembled for vulnerable people across Portsmouth.

Secondly, the city MP is urging supermarkets to allow Hive volunteers access to food and essentials at priority times to ensure that foodbank shelves do not become too depleted.

Mr Morgan added:

“While Hive and the shop workers are doing outstanding work in our community, we also need to see leadership from government on the issue of panic buying.

Bare supermarket shelves could cost lives. That is why I have also been taking action in parliament, asking Ministers questions and putting pressure on government to find a solution.

I will continue to take joined up action locally and nationally to protect vulnerable people in Portsmouth. Portsmouth has got through tough times before through team work. Everyone has a part to play.”

Stephen Morgan MP has also lobbied the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ask for urgent support to the voluntary sector, issued information locally warning about the dangers of panic buying and is running a campaign to encourage community action. 

The MP has praised the work of food banks and community initiatives across the city collecting food for those in need. In this photo: St George’s Food bank organised by Harbour Church. Food collection organised by local families and the fantastic Portsea Events Group.

A dedicated FAQs page at here is helping constituents with finding out the detail of government announcements.

 

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Covid-19: Your frequently asked questions

Last updated 30 March 2020 at 12:19. Please note that whilst we update this page regularly, information is subject to change.

What are the key sites for information?

Portsmouth City Council Covid-19 updates can be found here

NHS Covid-19 updates can be found here

Stay home and save lives instructions can be found here

What are the hotlines and government websites for help?

​Government Business Support:​ 0300 456 3565 ​and www.gov.uk/business-support-helpline  ​

​HMRC Coronavirus Tax:​ 0800 015 9559​ and www.gov.uk/difficulties-paying-hmrc  ​

​Universal Credit:​ 0800 328 5644​ and www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/already-claimed/helpline/  ​

School Closures: 0800 046 8687​ and www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19

I am self-employed, who do I contact to get information about my eligibility for financial assistance?

Government guidance on what is being offered to self-employed people has recently changed. Packages of support are available, but it depends on the how long you have been self-employed for, earnings and other factors. Stephen in continuing to lobby hard for more encompassing support packages and quicker financial aid payments for Portsmouth people.

HMRC have a team in place to deal directly with individual enquiries they can be contacted here: 0800 0159 559

Government guidelines can be found here

Should I still be using public transport?

The government are advising against non-essential travel via public transport. Bus and rail services have now reduced, with South West Trains cutting down on journeys. The information about these changes can be found here.

These are interim arrangements and alternative ways of handling refunds and delay-repay applications are being looked into.

Government has advised that a rigorous cleaning regime is taking place on public transport for those who do need to travel.

What does Covid-19 mean for my energy and water provision?

The BBC have reported that gas and electricity suppliers have agreed to an emergency package of measures to ensure vulnerable people do not get cut off during the COVID-19 crisis.

Those on pre-payment meters will receive help if they cannot get out to top up through credit being sent in the post or in funds and funds automatically being added to their meter.

Those who are struggling to pay bills will receive support and no credit meter disconnections will take place. There is also potential for bill payments and debt repayments to be paused, reassessed or reduced where necessary.

Additional information about what can be done about pre-paid energy whilst self-isolating can be found on the Money Saving Expert website. here

Should I be staying at home?

Absolutely. Stephen has been encouraging people to stay at home only popping out if you really have to or to get food supplies.

Following the statement by the Prime Minister on Monday 23 March, the Government introduced three new measures: requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes; closing non-essential shops and community spaces; and; stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public.

Guidance has been produced and is available here

Stephen is calling on the Government to provide greater clarity to employers and workers on this announcement with clear details above and beyond this guidance.

We must work together to beat the coronavirus. If you stay at home you are helping our NHS to save lives. If you go out unnecessarily you are helping to spread the virus. Show your support for staying at home to save lives by sharing Stephen’s tweet

Why have the government shut schools?

The government has now shut schools since 20 March 2020. The exception is for the children of key workers and vulnerable young people. Their reasoning is that Heads and teachers are just as at risk as anyone else, and as more and more staff called in sick – increasing numbers of schools started to fall like dominoes under the weight of this pandemic.

The Government has now published information on school closures due to Covid-19 in the interests of public health and who they mean by “key workers” here

Although the decision gives certainty for now – you can find out more about what this means for things like exams, attendance and schools employees going forward from Government here

The Department for Education Coronavirus Helpline is 0800 046 8687

Should I be stockpiling from supermarkets?

Absolutely not. Government guidance suggests that there is no need to stockpile and in fact this may have an adverse effect on the community. Please do not put other people’s lives at risk.

UK retailers are taking steps to ask shoppers not to panic buy for fear it will cause unnecessary shortages. Current advice is to only buy what you and your family need.

Stephen has written to every local supermarket and food store in the constituency about this and encourages everyone in Portsmouth to play their part to make sure everyone can get the food supplied they need. He is also lobbying Government for further measures to stop panic buying.

You can find more about panic buying here

What support is being offered to small businesses? 

Liaising with the Solent LEP, the Chamber of Commerce and city council Stephen has been pushing for a co-ordinated effort to support small businesses in Portsmouth as a result of Covid-19.

There are a number of questions which remain unanswered by Government however lobbying continues. Solent LEP have now updated their website to set out the support being provided here

Government guidance for small businesses can be found here

Stephen is working with others to help the promotion of small businesses in Portsmouth at this difficult time and continues his Support Local campaign raising concerns of local businesses with the council, government and others.

Council support for small business which Stephen has been encouraging can be found here 

What support is available to my own business?

During the budget certain measures were announced to support businesses affected by Covid-19. These were revised by the chancellor on the 17 March who pledged £330bn of government-back loans and guarantees. The chancellor has said that for smaller businesses in that sector who don’t have insurance cash grants of £25,000 will be provided.

Government information can be found here

For detailed guidance and answers from The Confederation of British Industry here

If you are a business who needs any help or advice please call the Business Support Helpline – telephone: 0300 456 3565 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)

Can my employer “lay me off” or put me on a short time? 

Your employer might be able to ask you to stay at home or take unpaid leave if there’s not enough work for you. A lay-off is if you’re off work for at least 1 working day. Short-time working is when your hours are cut.

Unite the Union have some helpful material which can be found here: Temporary lay off advice sheet PDF

On Friday 20 March the government announced additional support for people in work when instructing bars, pubs and restaurants to shut or only provide takeaway facilities. Further details to follow.

I have a family member overseas, what should I do? 

Government and expert advice suggest that you should not travel overseas at this time. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice.

The FCO travel advice remains the best and most up-to-date way to remain informed of travelling internationally and is currently being updated daily for many countries. Further instructions on how to get home are available on Travel Advice pages for each country, particularly the ‘Return to the UK’ page.

The Government recommend constituents should subscribe to travel advice email alerts for their destination, and continues to monitor the FCO coronavirus travel advice page.

These pages contain all the latest information and advice from the FCO on coronavirus for people living and travelling overseas. We also recommend your constituent follow their nearest Embassy or Consulate on social media.

Government guidance on this can be found here

Stephen is prioritising helping constituents who are currently abroad, and providing assistance to their families. If you know someone who is already overseas and is stranded, you can find consular support here

Should I be self-isolating?

If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.

If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.

NHS guidelines on self-isolation can be found here

Government guidelines can be found here

I am over 70, what should I be doing?

Current government guidance states that all over 70s, regardless of medical condition, should carry out social distancing measures until further notice. This means avoiding gatherings, working from home, avoiding travel and a host of other measures.

Government information on this can be found here

I am self-isolating, what does this mean for my mental health?

Staying away from other people and staying at home could have mental health implications. But there are lots of things you can try that could help your wellbeing. It may seem daunting and scary but there are plenty of resources and people who can help.

Mental health charity, Mind has some guidelines here

The NHS has some guidelines here

What support is available to my business?

During the budget certain measures were announced to support businesses affected by Covid-19. These were revised by the chancellor on the 17 March who pledged £330bn of government-back loans and guarantees. The chancellor has said that for smaller businesses in that sector who don’t have insurance cash grants of £25,000 will be provided.

Government information can be found here

For detailed guidance and answers from The Confederation of British Industry here

If you are a business who needs any help or advice please call the Business Support Helpline – telephone: 0300 456 3565 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)

Can Stephen still help with casework?

Yes. Stephen has taken a number of measures to ensure that his office is still able to help Portsmouth people with Casework while keeping staff safe.

While face-to-face contact have currently stopped, steps have been taken to continue providing service to constituents. If you have a casework inquiry or need urgent help please email or call.

Please note that Portsmouth City Council is at a ‘business critical’ phase. This means that if your enquiry relies on Stephen liaising with the council over a housing, planning or other council related issue, the council may be unlikely to provide a response at this time due to Covid-19 emergency measures.

How quickly can Stephen help?

We are currently receiving an extremely high level of contact at this uncertain time so correspondence is being prioritised and actioned as soon as possible.

You can email contact Stephen by emailing: stephen.morgan.mp@parliament.uk or calling the office on: 02392 29 1088

I want to volunteer and help others vulnerable to Covid-19, can I do this?

Stephen has been liaising with The Hive in Portsmouth who are coordinating a joined-up volunteer response.

There a lots of community groups and residents helping in lots of ways.From helping vulnerable people with shopping to tackling social isolation, there is a role for everyone.

You can contact The Hive here: info@hiveportsmouth.org.uk 023 9268 8880

I am worried about my rights as a self-employed person? 

Stephen has been lobbying government hard to provide a comprehensive package of support for self-employed workers and small businesses. Including better statutory sick pay and an Income Guarantee Scheme. Despite the announcements on 26 March, to date the package from Government has not been sufficient.

The self-employed already lack all of the legal protections of redundancy and other rights already in place to help protect employees, including those they employ themselves, from a sudden lack of income.

Information, help and support is available at here

Government advice can be found here

HMRC have a dedicated line here 0800 0159 559.

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City MP takes action to protect Portsmouth’s small businesses

Stephen Morgan MP has today taken local business concerns over Covid-19 directly to the government following concerns from city pubs, clubs and shop owners.

The Portsmouth South MP has raised concerns over the implications of the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday. Namely, the fact that the government is advising people not to visit pubs, clubs, restaurants, coffee shops, and other small businesses rather than issuing a blanket ban.

This runs the risk of insurers not covering a loss of earnings, which many small businesses claim could put them out of business.

The city MP also called for emergency action to protect the self-employed who have do have the same structural protection as in-house staff.

Mr Morgan said:

“In a time of crisis ambiguity can be problematic. The government’s advice not to visit small businesses has put a stop to earnings for countless Portsmouth people. But their failure to implement a blanket ban has largely voided any chance of insurers acting to safeguard those affected.

There are also many countless solo self-employed who do not possess enough savings to weather the storm the Covid-19.

While I understand the need to prioritise public health, the Government has a responsibility to safeguard the livelihoods of hardworking people and our communities’ economy. “

The Federation of Small Businesses has specifically cited the fact many self-employed people will have no HR department to give them guidance as to what to do, no sick pay to fall back on, and may well find that there is little work coming in.

Mr Morgan added:

“Portsmouth’s vibrancy is based on its thriving independent small businesses that are often family-run and dependant on regular footfall. We cannot afford to lose this part of our communities’ identity.

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, I will continue to act as a voice for the community I proudly represent. We are a resilient city, but we also need the government to give us the tools to fight against this pandemic.

I will be liaising with those organisations that support small businesses in our community to see how they can coordinate a package of support for those affected in Portsmouth.”

The city MP has described small businesses as the nation’s bedrock and vowed to put pressure on government to take measures to safeguard their interests throughout this crisis.

Current advice from Government for employers and businesses can be found: here and here.

Mr Morgan is lobbying the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to support Portsmouth’s small businesses.

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Portsmouth community action: Covid-19

There have been some amazing responses by communities across Portsmouth helping to support isolated or vulnerable people as a result of Covid-19.

Let’s continue to come together, as safely as possible, to maintain Portsmouth’s community strength, and support the people around us.

Please download Stephen’s poster and pop it up to help other Portsmouth people or share it on your social media to let others know that their actions matter. 

Portsmouth Covid-19 Community Action

There are five things you can do to make a positive difference in Portsmouth 

1 Think of others, consider your actions and be kind

People in every community will face the challenges of Covid-19 in some way from needing basic provisions to help while they are unwell.

2 Support vulnerable people or isolated people

Different groups in our communities are at risk and social isolation and loneliness are key concerns for all ages. There are things you can do like volunteering for local support services or donating to food banks to help.

3 Connect and reach out to your neighbours

As self-isolation increases, we need to find new ways to stay connected and check in on one another for our physical and mental wellbeing. Share phone numbers and stay in touch.

4 Share accurate information and advice

Support anyone who may be anxious about Covid-19. Signpost them to the correct advice from Public Health England and encourage people to follow the correct hygiene practices.

5 Make the most of local online groups

Keep up to date, share information and be a positive part of your local community conversations.

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“Let’s make cycling easier and accessible to all” vows Portsmouth MP after teaming up with Brompton Bike Hire

City MP Stephen Morgan is taking action to make it cheaper and easier to get around Portsmouth by bike. He is working with others including Brompton Bike Hire to set the wheels turning.

The action follows meetings with Brompton representatives in Portsmouth in a bid to encourage the city council to do more to encourage active travel to tackle the climate crisis.

After direct discussions with the Portsmouth Cycle Forum and Brompton, the Portsmouth South MP has now written to the local authority to urge them to retain the current Brompton Cycle Hire Hub based at Portsmouth Harbour, encourage new sites for the hire scheme across the city centre and enable people on low incomes to access the bikes to get round the city.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“People have told me they want to get out on the bike more but either can’t afford it, don’t know enough about how to get involved or don’t feel safe. If we are going to tackle climate change and air pollution crisis, this needs to change.

The council working in partnership more with Brompton Bike Hire and locating additional hubs across our city’s communities will help people get moving in a greener way, and in turn make Portsmouth less polluted.

That is why I am continuing to lobby hard for a greater presence of the Brompton Hire Scheme here in Portsmouth.

I’ve long argued the council need to do more to encourage cycling and make it easier for people to get on a bike. This is an off the shelf solution ready to go”.

Julian Scriven, Managing Director of Brompton Bike Hire said:

“Brompton is committed to changing the way people move around cities.

We are delighted Stephen Morgan MP shares this vision and is demonstrating a real drive at both a local and national level to promote active travel”.

First installed in other parts of the country in April 2011, Brompton Bike Hire was created to address the clear need for a cycle hire scheme that is accessible to all, easy and cheap to install and run and economical to use.

 

The British company expanded rapidly across the UK including to Portsmouth, first providing a facility at the city’s park and ride station, then moving it to Portsmouth Habour station.

A focus of Mr Morgan’s action is helping people on low incomes to access a bike hire scheme. On this he added:

“Cycling should be for the many not just the privileged or brave. Following discussions with Brompton on their recent visit to Portsmouth I am delighted that they are willing to partner with housing associations and the council to offer free membership to those in social and affordable housing.

I will be continuing to work with local campaigners to lobby for more hubs to be put in areas of the city where they are most needed.

I have put this offer to the city council to help Portsmouth people. I look forward to a positive response to improve the assets available across all our communities.”

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City MP holds Government Minister to account over environmental impacts of AQUIND

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has continued to help those objecting to the AQUIND application and taken action over environmental concerns surrounding the government backed infrastructure project in Portsmouth.

AQUIND Interconnector, an electric power transmission linking the UK to mainland Europe, has the potential to damage endangered wildlife near Milton Common and the surrounding areas of Portsmouth say constituents.

Mr Morgan said:

“In Portsmouth we are proud of the wildlife that thrives because of the wetlands and proximity to the sea. It is essential that these endangered species are safeguarded.

The Government supported initiative AQUIND could result in digging up areas near Milton Common, which hosts much of this teaming wildlife.

I share concerns about this infrastructure project and am supporting those objecting to it. I believe the proposals should have been determined by the relevant local planning authorities such as our city council but sadly the Government has decided that the proposal should be determined by the Secretary of State through the Development Consent Order process.

That is why I have today written to the Environment Secretary urging commitments to safeguard our endangered species and demanding regular and continued assessment of damage. The Government must now answer these specific questions of concern and be held to account over these proposals. I will continue to take action and be the a strong voice for Portsmouth over these plans which affect so many communities in our city and risking Portsmouth’s environment.”

The city MP has written to the Environment Secretary demanding answers. The action follows raising parliamentary questions, meetings with residents, attending open consultations and relaying concerns to AQUIND directly. The Portsmouth South representative has welcomed efforts by council officers to inform the public about the proposed plans so that resident views can be heard.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Our natural habitats are already under immense strain due to climate change. This means that we must take extra precautions to safeguard our wildlife and look at every infrastructure project through an environmental lens.

So far government has not shown leadership on the climate emergency. I will continue to apply to scrutiny to all decision making to ensure climate change is at the heart of discussion.”

This action is the first in a string of actions taken by the city MP over the AQUIND infrastructure project. Stephen Morgan has raised the issue through parliamentary questions, met with residents and spoken to the organisation over issues raised by constituents.

AQUIND Interconnector is a subsea and underground High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) electric power transmission link between the South Coast of England and Normandy in France. The Planning Inspectorate will hold an independent examination into the proposals, which is a form of a public inquiry. For more information visit https://interconnectorportsmouth.co.uk/

A copy of the letter can be seen here: GE DEFRA 25 2 NS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Labour in power: the progress made by Labour led local authorities

It has been a decade since a Labour PM occupied Number 10, it is likely to be another 5 before there is a chance to change that.

While the national picture is bleak, Labour are in power all over the country making changes where it matters. The often-unsung improvements, initiated by Labour councillors, need to be recognised to both share best practice and acknowledge the intrinsic role that local government will play in the path back to power.

Over 50% of the population in England and Wales live under a Labour Council or Labour Metro Mayor, with nearly 7,000 Labour councillors implementing innovative ideas with both hands tied behind their back. Without these community representatives willing to step up and shield our communities from the onslaught of Conservative cuts, many would be worse off.

Since 2010, the Conservatives have incessantly hacked bits of local authority services and slashed 60 pence out of every pound they previously received from central Government. What does this mean for the every day lives of British people? 900 vulnerable people a day being refused adult social care, a 165% increase in rough sleeping since 2010, and a 30% rise in the number of classrooms with 31 or more pupils.

With Tory austerity ripping apart communities and depriving councils of cash, cutting-edge Labour led councils are making a difference to people’s lives at the coalface.

While the pioneering achievements of Labour-lead councils’ number in their hundreds, which can be confirmed by a short look at LGA Labour’s 100 more innovations, the positive changes made to social care are particularly inspiring. Whether considering Kirklees Council’s housing policy that gives weight to care leavers or Blackpool’s trailblazing Health and Social Care Academy, the positive impact Labour councils are having on peoples’ lives in undeniable.

And all this in the midst of a crisis. Nearly £8bn has been taken from council budgets for social care since 2010, there are 1 million people not getting the care they need, and 87 people are dying a day waiting for care. It is not an understatement to say the changes made at local authority level can be lifesaving.

Positive strides have also been made to tackle the nation-wide housing crisis. Labour led councils have set the precedent in areas like South Tyneside through administering bespoke accommodation for ex-service personnel; and in Cambridge where Street Aid allows residents to donate to homeless people without any one being forced into a demeaning position. 

It is important that these innovations are shared with neighbouring local authorities if we are to showcase Labour’s grassroots ability. That is why, in my capacity as Shadow Communities Minister, I have been getting out to Labour run councils who are spearheading change and organising cross-regional idea sharing events. Key to building on Labour’s success at Local Government level will be demonstrating the innovation to those in non-Labour run areas.

With polls suggesting that public trust in local authority representatives is around 66% higher than their parliamentary counterparts, there are clear lessons to be learnt if we are to forge a path back to power. Truly empowered and independent local government offers the next Labour administration a meaningful, accountable, and democratic return to power. This opportunity must be seized.

Local authority provided services, often the lifelines we all rely on when most in need, touch the lives of thousands. From giving children and young people the best start in life to looking after older community members in need, they offer cradle to grave support. Labour’s initiatives, against all the odds, are fighting back against Tory austerity and winning. This innovative spirit will be key to securing the next Labour government and it would be a mistake to underestimate the significance of labour led local authorities.

 

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Portsmouth MP pulls together leading minds for Electoral Reform public meeting

Stephen Morgan MP has organised a constituency-based public meeting in a bid to hear from experts and constituents’ views over fairer voting.

The city MP has pulled together a team from electoral reform organisations and will be sharing the platform with the Electoral Reform Society’s Director of Policy, Make Votes Matter and Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform at a public meeting next month. The event is open to all Portsmouth South constituents.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I want to see a voting system where every vote counts. The fact millions of people vote in ‘safe’ seats where their voice isn’t heard is an insult to our democracy. Our voting system is clearly broken.

Parliament must represent the voices of Britain, and under First Past the Post this is not being achieved.

That is why I have put together this public meeting with leading minds on the issue. I encourage all those who share this vision of a democratised voting system to come and get involved.

I would also like to thank the University of Portsmouth for hosting this event for constituents to have their say.”

The current voting system, First Past the Post, is often criticised for not being representative. 

Electoral Reform Society’s Director of Policy Jessica Garland said:

 “Westminster’s outdated voting system has left voters feeling powerless for too long. People are rightly fed up with the divisive, one-party-takes-all politics that warps results and skews our political debate. It’s time to ensure every voice is heard, with real reform and a move to Proportional Representation.

“It’s great that Stephen Morgan is promoting this vital cause. How MPs are elected makes a huge difference to what issues are heard and to trust in politics. We look forward to joining this meeting, working with Stephen and campaigners across the spectrum to build a stronger democracy.”

The well-subscribed event is set to take place Thursday 5 March 2020 at 7:30 pm at Lecture Theatre LT2 in the Richmond Building.

Places are still available to book here. Booking is essential.

 

 

 

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‘Government not giving flooding the priority it deserves’ says City MP after Minister cancels meeting about Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, has criticised Government after the Minister responsible for tackling flooding cancelled an important meeting about investment in Portsmouth.  The proposed meeting about Southsea sea defence scheme was cancelled with just hours to go.

The parliamentary meeting, orchestrated by Mr Morgan as part of ongoing work alongside the local authority to secure funding for the largest sea defence scheme in the country, was set to take place today with the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Portsmouth City Council reps.

Previously Mr Morgan raised concerns over the priority Government is giving to the scheme as the department only offered 15 minutes for the meeting with the city MP, local authority officers and the Environment Agency.

Mr Morgan said:

“This meeting was only agreed after months of being given the run-around by Government and originally being offered a meeting of just 15 minutes. The cancellation at the last minute shows a complete lack of respect for Portsmouth.

There have been three serious coastal defence breaches in our city in the last six years, so it is little wonder the Southsea Sea Defence scheme is probably the biggest of its kind the nation has ever seen. 8,000 properties, 700 businesses and hundreds of livelihoods are depending on its success.

Following events and flooding over the last few days I share concerns that Government is not taking seriously the risk of flooding. Portsmouth has thought through plans for its sea defence scheme.

I will continue to take action so that the local authority gets the support it needs from Government and our city is given priority to protect our communities”.

The city MP has also repeatedly invited the Secretary of State to visit the city to understand the scale of the proposed scheme and need for investment, an invitation declined by the top politician in charge. The government is likely to invest in the scheme that has been developed with public consultation, but a number of important actions remain.

The last few days have reminded us all of the need for adequate funding to local authorities for flooding protection. The Environment Agency’s own analysis has revealed that national funding for this financial year (£815m) falls short of what is needed.

The meeting cancelled by the Government Minister comes amid some of the worst weather experienced in the UK for decades.  Some areas saw a month and a half’s rainfall in 24 hours and gusts of more than 90 miles per hour swept across the country.

The Prime Minister has previously committed to hosting a flood summit bringing together regional partners and stakeholders and local representatives, but to date has failed to deliver on this promise.

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City MP votes to increase police officers in our neighbourhoods

Stephen Morgan MP has voted in favour of a motion that would have seen a greater number of police officers and the restoration of neighbourhood policing teams. The opposition day debate, which took place yesterday, aimed to address ten years of cuts to forces across the country including Hampshire.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“In Portsmouth we have seen the direct consequences of fewer police officers and more crime born out of government cuts to police numbers and local authority services.

In backing this motion, I voted with all Portsmouth people who have been affected by crime in mind.

The Government must take responsibility for taking over 20,000 police off our streets and not just restore these numbers but increase personnel in accordance with crime rates.”

Mr Morgan’s action comes amidst recent statistics painting a damning picture of crime in the UK.

Since 2010, the number of police officers each year has fallen, with a 12.4% decrease recorded in 2019 compared with 2019. Subsequently, hate crime has more than doubled and violent crime increased by 13,000 cases in that time.

Mr Morgan added:

“It is telling that Government opposed the Labour proposed motion to properly fund and resource our police force in Hampshire. I’ve long argued the current funding formula penalises Portsmouth and our constabulary.

To simply reinstate the officers the Tories took away is not an improvement, but a tokenistic gesture designed to detract attention from their poor policing record.

Portsmouth people and our dedicated police officers are bearing the brunt of less bobbies on the beat and more crime. I will continue to hold Government to account over their shameful record.”

For some time the city MP has been running a campaign to get more bobbies back on the beat to bring down crime. To show your support visit www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/police