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Still ways to safely back Portsmouth’s tourism sector amid Covid-19 says city MP in support of virtual English Tourism Week

Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, has taken part in the first ever “virtual” English Tourism Week, showing support for 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. This year, there are concerns that Covid-19 could cause severe harm to businesses within the tourism sector, leading the city MP to encourage alternative participation in the city’s attractions.

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 event, being held from 25-31 May, Stephen Morgan MP is 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 cities 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 cities 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 cities 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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Shadow Armed Forces Minister says troops ‘let down’ in response to armed forces attitudes survey

The annual armed forces continuous attitude survey (AFCAS) is one of the main ways to gather information on the views and experiences of our personnel. For the tenth year running, it has shown government’s failure to address declining satisfaction and morale.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP, has called out Ministers for failing to address these deeply concerning numbers and drawn attention to the outstanding role our armed forces are continuing to do amid this pandemic.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister said:

“Since this government came to power, they have failed to address a growing feeling of dissatisfaction and dwindling morale among our armed forces.

Year on year the attitude survey has revealed deep set failings which government is yet to act on. I am deeply concerned that our troops are being let down.

Our armed forces deserve so much more than dwindling satisfaction in pay, morale and general wellbeing. It is high time that troop satisfaction reflects the amount the nation relies upon them.”

Commenting on the release of the annual Armed Forces Continuous Attitudes Survey, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP said:

“Crude Conservative defence cuts have undermined the wellbeing of our armed forces.

“These figures show a decade of discontent under the Tories, with satisfaction with military life, pay and pensions all falling since 2010.

“After years of neglect, Ministers must now rebuild military morale.”

The information from this survey helps shape policies for training, support, and the terms and conditions of service. It is also a useful indicator or how armed forces personnel feel, data usually difficult to obtain.

The 2020 survey published yesterday revealed that satisfaction with service life in general has fallen from 60% in 2010 to 45% in 2020, personal morale has fallen from 52% expressing high morale in 2010 to 41% in 2020 and satisfaction with basic pay has fallen from 52% in 2010 to 39% in 2020.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Beyond revealing a decade of failure to address troops’ concerns, the survey paints a damning picture of how government treats a service the nation is relying on it its time of need.

Armed Forces personnel are delivering for nation amid Covid-19 by helping administer PPE, setting up test centres, and aiding local authorities. It is a grave injustice that this government relies on them so heavily but refuses to act on their grievances for a decade.

I will continue to work with colleagues in applying pressure to Ministers to act on the findings of this survey and address the needs of our armed forces.”

The annual Armed Forces Continuous Attitudes Survey has been openly published and is available: www.gov.uk/government/statistics/armed-forces-continuous-attitude-survey-2020

 

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“It falls on all our shoulders to help people through the front door” says Portsmouth MP encouraging men to access mental health support

During Mental Health Awareness Week, city MP Stephen Morgan joined local mental health providers and service users to discuss ways to encourage men to access mental health support.

Welcoming efforts by Solent NHS Trust to bring services and people together to raise awareness and help co-ordinate local provision, Stephen Morgan MP listened to practitioners and service users in a zoom conference call.

On the challenges men face as a result of Covid-19, the city MP said:

“I share the concerns of the Mens’ Health Forum on the impact of Covid-19 on the physical and mental wellbeing of men and the risks of a spike in addictive behaviours and suicide.

With restrictions on being able to go outside, not seeing loved ones and anxiety about family and friends getting coronavirus, 60% of adults are reporting that their mental health has got worse during lockdown and over a third describe their mental health as currently poor or very poor”.

Mahdi Ghomi, Clinical Director and Consultant Psychologist at Solent NHS Trust, said:

“We are delighted to have hosted our first ‘Men & Mental Health’ Zoom chat and grateful to our guests, including Stephen Morgan MP, for their very positive engagement.

Men are historically under-represented in mental health services and yet are sadly at a greater risk of dying from suicide attempts. The NHS is here to help men in our communities to have a voice and feel enabled to access the mental health support they deserve.”

Mental health charity MIND are calling on the Government to take a number of steps to prioritise mental wellbeing during this public health emergency.

Their demands include ensuring the continued availability of mental health services; ensuring people with mental health problems detained under the Mental Health Act can be treated in a safe environment, have their rights protected, and have access to support to help them recover; prioritising support for young people’s mental health and wellbeing as part of plans for re-opening schools; and ensuring urgent investment in the mental health workforce and estate to support mental health services to deal with additional demand from the coronavirus crisis.

These demands have been acknowledged by Stephen Morgan MP and continue to inform his ongoing work on the availability of mental health support and as a champion for investment in these services.

Recognising the work of local service providers and charities supporting men with their mental health, Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Not just in Mental Health Awareness Week I want to shine a spotlight on the important work of Solent NHS Trust, Solent Mind and charities and local groups across our communities who are working tirelessly to ensure the continued availability of mental health services.

The zoom call acted as a reminder that it falls on all our shoulders to help get people through the front door to seek mental health support.

I will continue to work with others to put support for people with mental health problems, and for our nation’s mental health, at the heart of their coronavirus response and the country’s recovery plan”.

 

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Portsmouth MP backs ‘Pompey Street Space’ campaign and wastes no time promoting the plan in Parliament

Backing efforts by local groups and community representatives, Stephen Morgan MP today took action in support of the new Pompey Street Space campaign as part of his ongoing work to tackle the city’s climate emergency

Launching this morning, the Pompey Street Space is a newly formed campaign calling for the council to make our city safe for residents to walk, wheel, shop and cycle whilst keeping 2m apart. Since the lockdown the number of residents walking and cycling has risen hugely. The cleaner air, more audible bird song and peaceful streets have been a revelation for many of how our city could be.

The city MP is encouraging Government through the hybrid-Parliament to ‘lock-in’ the emission reducing practices that the city has adopted amid Covid-19. 

While Mr Morgan has been taking action to promote active travel in the city for some time. Today he threw his weight behind the Pompey Street Space campaign in signing a collective letter to the local authority and raising the community campaign in the House of Commons.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Active travel uptake amid this crisis has increased by up to 125% on some days. This shows that our city is capable of making decisive efforts to change behaviours and in turn, tackle climate change.

Now it is up to government to seize the opportunity and ensure Portsmouth people can continue to use green travel free from fear and with confidence. That means putting an end to the piecemeal approach to transport infrastructure and allowing councils rapid access to new vital funds.

Social, economic and environmental returns to active travel investment will be seen almost immediately. I will continue to take action with others to promote greener travel and look forward to supporting the work of Pompey Street Space to make this vision a reality.”

Active travel – such as walking and cycling – has soared amid the pandemic while traffic has seen around a 60% decline, slashing harmful emissions.

Portsmouth is the fourth most congested city in the UK and one of the worst outside London. Organisations such as the World Health Organisation have deemed current city pollution levels as ‘illegal’, while Friends of the Earth have described them as ‘Dangerous’. This means an increased risk to 11,000 people living the city who have heart and respiratory conditions.

Local climate activist Nick Sebley said:

“Stephen has been a solid ambassador on climate issues since his election and we welcome his support for the Pompey Street Space campaign.

We are presented with a unique opportunity to make our community fitter, healthier and greener. Portsmouth people have shown they have what it takes to be pioneers in addressing the climate emergency, it now falls on government’s shoulders to ensure the continuation of these practices.”

The community-led campaign is calling for the council to take three important steps immediately:

  1. Widen narrow pavements in busy streets so that people can keep two metres apart whilst walking, queuing for shops etc.
  2. Create a comprehensive city-wide network of roads that give priority to cyclists and pedestrians
  3. Create more commuter cycle routes to allow people who usually travel by public transport to get quickly and safely to work by bike.

Mr Morgan added: 

“As we emerge from this crisis, we cannot go head first into another. Climate change poses a real and severe threat to life that disproportionately effects people in our community.

Government has a duty to listen to the calls of trailblazing campaigns, like Pompey Street Space, to create the right conditions in communities that will allow green and active travel to continue to thrive. For that reason I wanted to flag this new initiative from our city to Ministers today.

According to the Government’s own research, at least £6bn of extra funding is required to meet their own targets of doubling cycling by 2025.

If Ministers are serious about active travel, then they need to get serious about investing in communities like Portsmouth”.

Stephen Morgan MP has a long running history of climate change action. He has hosted Brompton along with Keir Starmer in Portsmouth to promote active travel, hosted major public events with expert speakers to share best practice, regularly speaks out at local events, has worked in conjunction with XR and Friends of the Earth and continues to raise issues in Parliament.

 

 

 

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Stephen Morgan MP: Fight for equality far from over

Sunday 17 May marks International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT), a day of celebration to mark the anniversary of the decision, in 1990, to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases published by the World Health Organisation.

This year’s anniversary comes at time of rising hate crime committed against the LGBT community and a third of LGBT people reporting that they are scared to display public affection for ‘fear of violence’.

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 has found inadequate responses in 89 of 180 cases it reviewed.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has been campaigning for some time for greater government action to stop the increase in hate crime in society.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

Today’s anniversary represents a global annual landmark drawing attention to the tenacity and strength of the LGBT rights movement, the battles fought and won, and the struggles ahead.

Against the backdrop of rising hate crime, last year’s string of heinous public attacks and a rise in right-wing populism, mean that this show of solidarity is needed more than ever.

In highlighting to the public, businesses, local authorities and media the discrimination still affecting the LGBT community, today is a reminder that we must come together to say to government that complacency will not be tolerated when it comes to hate.”

The rate of LGBT hate crime per capita rose by 144% between 2013-14 and 2017-18. In the most recent year of data, police recorded 11,600 crimes, more than doubling from 4,600 during this period.

Hate crimes against transgender people have nearly quadrupled in the last five years, to 2,333 reports last year, whilst campaign group Stonewall said 81% of people who experienced LGBT hate crime did not report it to the police.

The Portsmouth South MP has said that with increased pressures amid Covid-19 and Pride celebrations later this year cancelled across Britain, the need for continued action is greater than ever.

The city MP added:

“Portsmouth’s growing Pride festivities have understandably been curtailed due to Covid-19. With the backdrop of increasing hate crime, we cannot allow this to deter us as a city from marking LGBT achievements and campaign for the protections still needed.

We must also see leadership from government in addressing this surge in hate crime plaguing our society and a focus on increasing people’s confidence in reporting hate crimes with people knowing they will be treated seriously by public bodies.

I will continue to work with others on this issue of concern and put pressure on government where further action is needed.”

 

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New report finds Government “not doing enough” for military charities to support veterans

Portsmouth MP welcomes report findings and new support for charities but says government must now ‘provide proof in the delivery’

Statistics collated by the solicitor’s firm Bolt Burdon Kemp and Veterans Lifeline have revealed the lack of mental health support military veterans receive from government amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The data comes as the government today announced some funding for veterans’ charities, but questions remain about what delivery looks like and whether government should be providing services for veterans rather than helping charities.

On the support announced by government today, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I welcome that government has taken notice of what I and others have been saying that we need an urgent plan to address the feeling of abandonment among some in the veteran community.

However, it does leave a number of questions unanswered. How long will it take for payments to be made to charities? Who is eligible for the grants? When will the difference be seen at the coalface?

Had these announcements come earlier these are questions we could have posed at today’s departmental questions. I will continue to work with colleagues in the Shadow Defence team to make sure government not only promises improvement, but delivers for our nation’s veterans.”

The research published today includes the lack of mental health support with only 26% of charities thinking that the government supports the mental health of veterans; not enough overall support – 74% of charities say that the government and armed forces are not doing enough to support veterans; and; government and armed Forces’ onus – 79% of charities believe that the responsibility to support veterans should lie more with the government and armed forces.

On the statistics Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Sadly, these statistics do not come as a surprise. They reflect what the Shadow Defence team are hearing after listening to veterans’ charities and groups as were raised in Defence Questions today.

Social isolation, financial turmoil and pressure on mental health resulting from this pandemic means that support for our veterans’ community is needed now more than ever. It is therefore deeply concerning that government has closed services such as the Veterans UK helpline and urged some ex forces personnel who may be older to instead get in touch by email on by using the app.

The fact this decision has been made against the backdrop of VE Day, Captain Tom making ground-breaking contributions to our NHS, and our service personnel playing a crucial role in combating Covid-19, sends out the wrong message to our armed forces who continue to go above and beyond for the nation.”

The Ministry of Defence has cut support to veteran services, including the telephone helpline leaving thousands of potentially vulnerable ex-forces personnel without anyone to talk to.

Officials admit that more than 2,000 veterans have been forced to email for help instead of calling the MoD. They have also stopped processing new applications for war pensions, war widow pensions and compensation, and appeals have been postponed.

Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP added:

“Closing the Veterans UK helpline and asking older veterans who could be in their eighties or nineties to send an email instead is not good enough. Ministers should make it a priority to safely restart this service for those who need it”.

 

 

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“Survival of Gosport Ferry now in Government’s hands” says Portsmouth MP following continued lobbying

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has joined with neighbouring council leaders, the Commodore of HM Naval Base and other MPs to lobby government into taking action to save the much-loved Gosport Ferry service.

The city MP’s latest efforts follow a string of parliamentary written questions putting pressure on Government to act and a letter sent to the Transport Secretary last week, highlighting where support must be offered. This can be seen here.

The most recent letter from the political leader and other local representatives details the measures that local authorities have been taking to save the service, including offering a deferment in licence fees and pontoon charges before urging government to step up.

In signing the letter from local leaders, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Cash strapped councils have shown leadership by offering relief to the crucial ferry service by offering the deferral of charges amounting to £42,000 per month. Now it falls on government to do their bit.

Sadly government support packages have not supported Gosport Ferry so far bringing uncertainty to those who work for the company and those who benefit from the service. Today, along with other stakeholders, I have urged government to redress this and offer a package to balance the shortfall.

This is an essential service relied upon by our region. The varied mix of signatories to the letter, led by local councils, is a testament to that. The survival of the ferry service is in the hands of government, we must now see urgent action from them.”

All signatories, including two Government Ministers who represent constituencies in the region, suggest that “the value of Gosport Ferry may not have been fully appreciated” by government and pushed for urgent action.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Liaising with senior members of Gosport Ferry, the trade unions, staff affected and constituents who have told me the value of this service, I have already taken a range of actions to help.

I remain committed to working with others to highlight the gaps in government support and what this means for vital transport infrastructure in our region. I will continue to lobby Ministers to ensure they take notice of just how important our region is. Government must not forget that.”

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City MP continues to take action as WASPI women hit hard by Covid-19

Long running supporter of the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign, Stephen Morgan MP, has today written to the Work and Pensions Secretary urging swift action to help women born in the 1950s suffering at the hands of the pandemic.

The WASPI movement campaigns against the way the state pension age for men and women was equalised. Prior to the pandemic, millions of 1950s women had been made worse off, some losing up to £47,000. Reports are suggesting that these women are now being disproportionately hit by the impacts of Covid-19.

Writing directly the Secretary of State after listening to local concerns, Mr Morgan has raised that women affected are facing increased loss of earnings, trouble with Universal Credit and gaps in government support before he outlined potential solutions.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This is the generation of women that rebuilt Britain, it is unacceptable that they are being disproportionately affected by Covid-19. They suffered injustice prior to the pandemic, it is not right that they continue to have support refused.

Some face a loss of earnings as cleaners and exam invigilators whose ‘top up’ income has now dried up. Others are self-employed and have fallen through gaps in government support.

That is why I have written to directly the Work and Pensions Secretary requesting government explores the early payment of Pension Credit and State Pension to those effected.”

Shelagh Simmons from Solent WASPI said:

“Government implemented legislation that has caused severe financial turmoil for millions of 1950s women. Now we are asking them to provide emergency support during this pandemic

Early access to Pension Credit and State Pension will go some way to alleviate the pressures faced, and we are grateful to Stephen Morgan MP for taking action and asking the Government to make an assessment of these requests.”

Evidence suggests that many 1950s women work in the gig economy. The sector least supported by government Covid-19 schemes. This, coupled with low incomes undermining eligibility for universal credit, is resulting in severe loss of earnings for WASPI women.

The city MP has urged the government to assess the impacts of Pension Credit, which could offer immediate financial relief to those affected. While early access to State Pension has the potential to boost disposable income, likely to give a welcome kick to the economy as Britain gets on the road to recovery.

Stephen Morgan MP added: 

“I have been working closely with WASPI women for some time. I am committed to continuing to engage with them through this pandemic and beyond.

It is important that no one is left behind, particularly in a crisis, and that government is aware of the fact that there are gaps in the support they are offering.”

 

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“Keeping people connected has never been more important” says city MP thanking posties on National Postal Workers’ Day

Wednesday 29 April marks the ninth National Postal Workers’ Day, a day dedicated to thanking postal workers for their first-class service to the country. The annual event is organised by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), a trade union for the communications industry with almost 200,000 members.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has commended the postal workers particularly for their work delivering essential items, looking out for the elderly and taking shopping to vulnerable people amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Postal workers are an essential cog in keeping the country connected. Whether delivering parcels containing important business equipment or keeping in touch with loved ones, we all know how well they serve our community.

The importance of paying tribute to postal workers could not be more crucial at this time of crisis. Not only are they keeping the mail moving during a pandemic which puts themselves at risk, there are widespread reports of workers going above and beyond by helping the vulnerable.

I urge people to show solidarity across the country by displaying messages of thanks in their windows and letting postal workers know how much we value their service.”

A spokesperson from the CWU said:

“Despite hugely challenging times, CWU members are keeping the country connected. From delivering essential items to checking on the elderly and taking shopping to the most vulnerable in society, we have seen thousands of examples of local postal workers stepping up.”

The city MP has also backed the CWU’s calls for Royal Mail to make their work safer amid the pandemic. The CWU has criticised the Royal Mail over the continual delivery of advertising mail and called for better provision of PPE for workers who are on the frontline.

On this, Stephen Morgan MP added:

“While paying tribute to postal workers is very important, this does not mean much unless we are prepared to stand in solidarity with them when it comes to things as important as their safety, and even their lives.

I support the CWU’s calls for an end to advertisement mail during this pandemic. Any measure that reduces risk must be taken, especially as in this case, advertising mail can be deemed as non-essential at a time of crisis.

I also vow to continue taking action on behalf of all frontline workers when it comes to the provision of PPE. The postal service is a key part of the UK’s infrastructure. They continue to deliver for us, we must now show our support for them.”

The Portsmouth MP has urged people to leave messages of support for their postal worker in their windows on the 29 April 2020 in a safe manner, and in line with government safety guidelines.

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City MP pays tribute to all those who have lost their lives at work on International Workers’ Memorial Day

Workers’ Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government. Stephen Morgan MP has joined local trade unions and others in remembering those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury and diseases by completing a minute silence.

The city MP also called for renewed efforts to organise collectively to prevent more deaths, injuries and disease as a result of work, commending the trade unions for their work in the ongoing battle for increased employee rights and safety.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It is a shocking fact that every year more people die from work related injuries than die in wars. This is not an inevitability that we have to accept, many of these deaths are preventable. Through appropriate regulation, increased workplace safety and creating a system where all employers care about the safety of workers, we can make a difference.

This year’s commemorations are even more important considering the coronavirus pandemic. Every day we are seeing brave frontline workers risking their lives on behalf of all of us.  Already many thousands of workers worldwide have died. More have fallen ill or continue to go to work for the good of the community.

International Worker’s Memorial Day is a vital way to stand in solidarity with those who have lost their lives, those who are still working and to highlight that much more must be done to improve safety at work.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank all trade unions for their tireless efforts and campaigning to stand up for workers’ rights and protections all year round”.

The city MP is joining the minute silence, taking a moment to pay tribute to the sacrifice made by so many workers during the pandemic, to remember those who’ve sadly lost their lives, and to thank all those who continue to do vital work at great risk.

The one minute silence is at 11am on 28 April 2020.