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‘I want a city where it doesn’t matter who you are or who you love’ says city MP on Portsmouth Pride

In a message to all Portsmouth residents as the city’s Pride event is cancelled due to Covid-19, and instead replaced with an online event, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan has recorded a video message to those celebrating safely at home:

Today on Portsmouth Pride day, we must reflect on past achievements and recognise the challenges ahead.

I’m hugely proud of my party’s record on speaking up and taking action on advancing LGBT rights: abolishing the hateful Section 28; creating civil partnerships; introducing landmark legislation ending injustice and inequality; and If it wasn’t for the coronavirus crisis, I would be with you marking this year’s theme – the armed forces – as the Shadow Armed Forces Minister – proud that twenty years ago the ban was lifting on gay personnel serving.

Whilst today we can celebrate safely at home, this virtual event should also act as a reminder that there is so much more to do both here, at home, and across the globe.

Poland has declared LGBT free zones across the country. Hungary has passed a law ending legal recognition for transgender people.

Here in the UK research is telling us that the LGBT community are more vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus as Covid-19 continues to thrive on inequality.

Ministers promised to ban conversion therapy, yet a few years later, still nothing has happened.

We’re still awaiting the Government response to reforms to the Gender Recognition Act risking rowing back the progress made on trans rights.

I want a city where it doesn’t matter who you are or who you love, and I want a country which is a global leader in fighting for equality for all.

To achieve this, we must all work together. And Portsmouth Pride is helping us do just that.

We all have a part to play.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

 

 

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City MP urges Portsmouth people to help put pressure on PM over Free School Meal removal

In response to the Prime Minister’s plans to take away meals from the children of struggling families, Stephen Morgan MP has orchestrated a mass signed letter urging the Government to reconsider.

In England, 1.3 million children rely on free school meals. Normally children only get free meals from school during term-time but eligible pupils received food vouchers over Easter as the country coped with the Covid crisis. Government is threatening to take away this vital lifeline which is helping feed hungry children from family’s struggling amid the pandemic.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This government has presided over a decade of inequality and injustice that has only been enhanced by Covid-19.

To now risk taking food away from hungry children because term time has ended is counterproductive and only kicks struggling families while they are down.

Hunger doesn’t stop when kids get home. Parents know how important a healthy diet is for children – and for children from struggling families, these meals are a lifeline. Once school is out, these families’ kids will get left behind unless the PM changes his mind.”

The Department for Education said the scheme will not continue in the summer holidays, but campaigners say children in vulnerable families will go hungry. This has prompted high profile individuals such as Manchester United footballer, Marcus Rashford, to also write to all Members of Parliament about the matter.

Sustain and the Good Law Project, led by the campaigning lawyer Jolyon Maugham have also pledged that they will challenge the government’s decision in the courts if necessary, something that Stephen Morgan MP has also pledged support for.

Mr Morgan added:

“This pandemic has made the serious structural inequality in this country unmissable.

In the long-term we need the Prime Minister to lead efforts by Government to tackle the causes of child poverty. Right now, we need him to step up, show leadership, and make sure the 1.3 million children don’t go hungry this summer.

I know how important this issue is to constituents. That’s why I am urging fellow Portsmouth people to sign my open letter urging the Government to act.”

You can sign Stephen’s letter to the Prime Minister, here: http://www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/holidayhungercampaign/

 

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To save our high streets ‘the hospitality sector needs clarity’ 

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has welcomed a series of demands to urge the government to save British high streets on the day that non-essential shops in England are being allowed to reopen.

Although allowed to open from today in a further easing of coronavirus lockdown, shops have been told that they must meet Covid-19 guidelines for the safety of customers and workers.

But the official opposition has expressed concern that guidance has not been specific or clear enough on sanitising, protective equipment and other areas, and it has sounded the alarm over confusing briefings to the press.

Stephen Morgan MP is particularly worried about the challenges faced by the hospitality sector after listening to local businesses urging for sector-specific support measures.

The demands made to ministers by Labour are as follows:

  • Stop anonymous speculative briefings on social distancing guidelines. Social distancing guidelines are vital information for venues to prepare to reopen safely in respect of layout of venue and capacity of venue, both of which impact on revenue and financial decision making. Businesses will require clarity and transparency. As with other aspects of Ministers’ response to the Covid-19 crisis anonymous speculative briefings to the press are deeply unhelpful, confusing business and the public with mixed messages. Any changes to the guidelines should be led by the science and come about through a transparent and clear process.
  • Give guidance on business-critical issues such as sanitising, PPE for staff, security provision, use of toilets, the use of phone apps for ordering, vertical drinking and table service. Without this information, many business operators are struggling to plan their opening and short-term business model.
  • Set out what help will be available for operators who have to remain closed because the two-metre rule prohibits them from being able to open safely and/or it is not financially viable for them to do so.
  • Ensure furlough flexibility. Business wants clarity around the part-time furlough scheme and whether this can be brought forward. If outdoor areas are open from 22 June, this will not require a full-time complement of staff. For other businesses such as theatres, nightclubs, small indoor pubs and summer festival businesses for which social distancing makes opening not viable, the furlough top up will be impossible because they have no cash coming in.
  • Consider what flexible support can be given to other operators. For many businesses that do reopen it will be at significantly reduced capacity with higher costs such as more staff, security and PPE. They too need more flexible support.
  • Work with local authorities, take innovative action to help businesses expand operations and boost trade by reducing bureaucracy including:
    • Ensuring rapid license variations, on issues such as opening hours or setting up licensed spaces, which currently require long notice periods.
    • Reforming the operation of temporary event notices so they are not subject to time limits. Reduce five working day time limit for late temporary event notices to three working days.
    • Deregulating the sale of alcohol as part of any outdoor licensed seating area for the duration of the crisis, so that there is no requirement for separate premises licence/temporary event notice, to allow outdoor bars, or allow a fast track licensing scheme for this.
    • Enabling local authorities the ability to operate licensed spaces without going through full licence process or needing temporary event notices
  • Investigate the conversion of parking spaces and other areas into outdoor seating uses.
  • Build public confidence in going to pubs and restaurants, and the high street by ensuring the track and trace and other measures are fully in place.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We know nationally that one third of all hospitality businesses have not qualified for government grants, in particular larger employers, according to trade association UKHospitality.

The sector employs more than 3.2 million people, adding up to 10% of UK employment, and represents 6% of business and 5% of GDP.

Both nationally and locally the small businesses in our retail and hospitality sector have an important part to play in our economy. The government must finally give businesses long-overdue clarity”.

Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Business Minister, added: 

“It’s vital that ministers turn their attention to the hospitality sector, providing clarity and guidance so that businesses can plan to reopen in the coming weeks.

That means no more backroom briefings to Tory MPs, and more public advice and guidance to companies about how they can safely reopen.

Alongside this, we urge the government to publish an action plan which maximises economic viability, whilst minimising the risk to the health of customers and staff.

If they fail to act, our communities will lose much-loved pubs, bars and restaurants, and we’ll see a wave of closures and unemployment which will damage villages, towns and cities across the country.”

Pubs, clubs, restaurants, hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons will have to stay closed until at least July as close contact involves a higher risk of coronavirus transmission.

 

 

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Show support to Portsmouth’s tourism online urges says city MP in virtual English Tourism Week

Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, is showing support for the first ever “virtual” English Tourism Week, backing the industry and highlighting its importance to the local economy.

Overall the tourism industry in Portsmouth supports about 12,500 jobs and brings around £40 million to the local economy year on year. Between 2016 and 2018 an average of 658,000 domestic overnight trips were taken to Portsmouth per year, and in 2018  the top overseas tourism markets for Portsmouth were Germany, France and the Czech Republic.

English Tourism Week is an annual celebration of the tourism industry, a week dedicated to showcasing England’s tourism offer. For this year’s virtual activities, respecting lockdown restrictions, took place between 25-31 May. Stephen Morgan MP has been working with VisitEngland to shine the spotlight on the importance of tourism to the local, regional and national economy and pledge their support to the sector’s recovery.

Mr Morgan said:

“Our city boasts world-beating museums and historical assists spanning centuries, we must ensure that we all do our bit to preserve them for both the good of our city’s culture and economy.

The Mary Rose Museum, D-Day Story and other major attractions have all taken measures to allow visitors to enjoy their experiences online.

On English Tourism Week, I urge all those who are disappointed not to be out enjoying our city’s attractions to go online and see the outstanding efforts made to ensure some kind of visitor experience remains.”

VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said:

“English Tourism Week is all about highlighting the economic benefits that tourism brings to local economies, celebrating our diverse and exciting sector, and showcasing the quality, range and value of English tourism.

“While we cannot run events as usual this year, the spirit of the week has never been more important.  Tourism has been one of the first and hardest hit economic sectors due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this year’s virtual week is dedicated to showing support for the industry, the millions of people who work in it and the hundreds of thousands of businesses impacted.

“It is also about looking towards the future recovery and doing everything we can right now to ensure that tourism can bounce back to once again become one of the most successful and vibrant sectors of the economy.”

Tourism is one of England’s largest and most valuable industries, supporting hundreds of thousands of businesses, employing more than 2.6 million people and generating more than £106 billion a year for the English economy.

Stephen Morgan MP has been taking a number of steps amid this pandemic to support Portsmouth’s normally thriving tourism sector.

He has already written to Minister’s on behalf of individual museums to outline financial struggles, asked parliamentary questions on small business support available to cultural assets, and remains in communication with the management of the city’s tourism sector.

For more information about this year’s virtual English Tourism Week please see: https://www.visitbritain.org/english-tourism-week

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Portsmouth MP pleads with constituents to respect restrictions

Responding to recent concerns from constituents about anti-social behaviour and people not following social distancing guidance on Southsea Common, the Hotwalls and in parks across the constituency, ahead of the Bank Holiday Stephen Morgan MP has written an open letter to all residents urging continued ‘respect for the lockdown restrictions’.

In the personal letter, published on all social media platforms on Saturday morning, the city MP pleads with constituents by saying:

“As we approach another sunny Bank Holiday, we must redouble these efforts. If we fall at the last hurdle, we could face months more social distancing measures and run the risk of harm to our loved ones”. 

A copy of the letter can be found below:

Open letter

 

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Portsmouth MP urges people to ‘Support Local’ to help city’s small businesses get through crisis

Many small businesses across the country have been devastated by the coronavirus crisis. Whilst recognising efforts of Government and the council to offer assistance, Stephen Morgan MP is urging everyone in Portsmouth to play their part and to ‘support local’. 

In late March, the Prime Minister ordered all pubs, restaurants, gyms and other social venues across the country to close their doors for the foreseeable future, leaving many business owners and their employees at risk in Portsmouth.

While measures such as social distancing and self-isolation are vital in helping to curb the spread of the deadly disease, they have also threatened to devastate the city’s local businesses.

Despite loans, grants and practical support being available via local authorities and other bodies, many businesses have not reached out at all.

City MP Stephen Morgan has been working constructively with Ministers to ensure a package of support for companies, whilst challenging the Government to do better and act faster to protect small businesses in Portsmouth.

Lobbying the Chancellor to ensure a wide-ranging programme of help, liaising with the city council over local support, and backing campaigns to urging residents to shop and trade locally, the Portsmouth South MP has welcomed efforts by Strong Island, based in Southsea, encouraging local people to ‘Support Local and Independents’.

Throwing his weight behind this local campaign, and teaming up with ‘Small Business Britain’ the UK’s leading champion of small businesses, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Small businesses are the bedrock of our economy in Portsmouth. Helping to protect them during the coronavirus crisis protects livelihoods, protects jobs and protects our communities.

While the government and local bodies are doing their part to protect the economy, there are also plenty of ways that people can support their favourite local businesses, whether they are shops, music venues or local online stores.

Many businesses can be supported through this crisis and can be offered hope and a future for themselves, their families and their staff if we all do our bit and help them”.

There are over 5.8 million small businesses in the UK. According to Small Business Britain’s Big Support campaign, research shows that more than half (55%) of businesses have not got any advice or support for their business so far. A third (66%) are not confident in their business, and nearly 70% expect their revenues to fall by over 50%.

The city MP added:

“Businesses are at risk of running low on hope. There is support out there from financial and coaching, to advice and guidance. We all need to make sure small businesses are taking it up.

It’s undeniably tough right now and I am committed to doing everything in my power to ensure small businesses can and will get through this.

As Parliament returns from recess this week, I will continue to lobby Ministers over their plans to make sure there are no gaps in provision and the package of support for Portsmouth is as comprehensive as it needs to be.

Small businesses are the heart of our communities. Let’s all do what we can to support local and independent so that small businesses get all the support they need to survive and thrive”.

 

Sources of support as examples:

 

 

 

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“We must see a strategy for getting Britain on the road to recovery” says city MP joining calls for Covid-19 recovery plan

Stephen Morgan MP has doubled down on the Labour leader’s calls for government to issue a plan for getting Britain on the path to recovery.

Citing a need for transparency around ongoing restrictions and for British people to have a sense of what comes next, Mr Morgan has urged government to publish their strategy for coming out of lockdown.

Mr Morgan also joined frontbench colleagues in supporting an extension to the period of lockdown, which government is expected do shortly.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Millions of people have stuck to the lockdown rules and are acting in a community minded manner. This must continue. Government also has a responsibility to keep people informed and must be open about when restrictions are likely to end.

Our communities must be reassured that government is on top of producing an effective exit strategy from this crisis. Transparency is key not only to the wellbeing of the population but also to the development of plans and to garnering agreement over the best route out.

I will continue to constructively engage with government and apply scrutiny to their decision-making so that communities like Portsmouth are privy to transparent, frank political decision making and are well-prepared for when our country comes out of this crisis.”

Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer said:

“Plans need to be in place sooner rather than later. Science in the end can’t tell you what the political strategy is for coming out of lockdown, because that involves political decisions as well as scientific decisions.

If we can get a consensus that this is the right strategy going forward, I think that will give trust to the public as well.”

Keir Starmer has made calls on Dominic Raab MP to commit to laying out the criteria the government will use to inform how and when it intends to ease the lockdown. He has also urged him to publish the exit strategy as a matter of urgency.

 

 

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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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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.