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“These young activists have shown true Pompey spirit by being the change they want to see in the community” – City MP joins young people at LifeHouse support centre

In support of a set of Southsea schoolchildren doing their best to improve their local community, Stephen Morgan MP has visited LifeHouse on Albert Road. 

The three children, Eva, Marley and Ava, all aged 11, have spent time preparing care packages for service users at the facility and were joined by the city MP while meeting those at LifeHouse.

Mr Morgan said:

“One of the things that I am most proud about the city I grew up in is the sense of community and pride in Portsmouth. These young activists have exemplified the ethos of our city by being the change they want to see and reaching out to community members who need our support.

LifeHouse does vital work in our community by providing a resource, support centre and kitchen for those who need it and I am grateful to young people Eva, Ava and Marley for showing such initiative and support for the organisation.”

The schoolchildren, who all attend schools in Southsea, have for some time been thinking about how to do their bit for the local community and cited their distress at seeing local Portsmouth people in need as the motivation for their activism.

Mr Morgan said:

“At a time when there are double the number of rough sleepers than there were in 2010 and 2017 saw a 15% rise on the previous year – community-based initiatives are integral to supporting the members of our community that need it.

These young people are doing their bit in Portsmouth, but it is up to the Government to address these major societal inequalities.

That is why I will continue to lobby the Government to ensure that local authorities receive the funding they need to provide vital services and to highlight their services failings when it comes to community support.”

Eva said:

“Just because someone is homeless doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. Anyone could become homeless for any reason. We don’t need to be negative and judge people because of what they look like”

Ava said:

“I think there are a lot of homeless people here in Portsmouth and not everyone pays attention to them.”

Marley added:

“We want to raise awareness and encourage other people to help. Even though we are children doesn’t mean we don’t have a voice and don’t have anything to say.”

 

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“Holistic, comprehensive support for our veterans is vital – We should settle for nothing less” – City MP speaks out after visit to veterans charity 

Stephen Morgan MP has put recess time to good use and spent a day with forces charity Blind Veterans UK, a Brighton based organisation that seeks to provide holistic care and support for veterans who have suffered blindness.

The visit allowed Mr Morgan meet with veterans, or members as charity sees them, to observe first-hand the ground-breaking technology being trialled and hear feedback on the research being conducted at the centre.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The work being conducted at Blind Veterans UK is truly remarkable. It only takes a conversation with one of the many members of the charity to hear how it has touched the lives of not just them, but their families.

Organisations such as this are essential because they provide a well-rounded, comprehensive level of support. From tackling social-isolation through group-based sports activities, to providing vital skills through educational services – the centres capabilities are impressive.”

The Portsmouth South representative’s visit culminated in a demonstration of the driverless cars being tested at the facility, paving the way for potentially changing the game when it comes ensuring blind veterans remain independent.

The visit also included discussions with the centres resident doctor about the highly-advanced research being conducted at the centre, and interactive demonstrations of the way Virtual Reality is being used to support charity members.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The level of care provided to our ex-armed forces community by the Government does not go far enough, organisations such as Blind Veterans UK are pioneers when it comes to what can be achieved.

Well-being, education, fitness, medical care and support are all provided. We should strive to replicate this when it comes to how veterans are treated across the board.

For some time now, I have been calling on the Government to do more when it comes to tailored, bespoke services for our forces community. Spending time with the members at this organisation is a testament to how and why this should be achieved. “

Mr Morgan’s visit formed part of his long-running strategy for improving life for veterans. He has made repeated calls for veteran suicide to be recorded, written to the Government asking for further rights such as railcards to be extended to veterans, met with The British Legion, hosted Westminster Hall debates on veteran welfare and regularly meets local organisations such as all call signs.

City MP, Stephen Morgan said:

“Growing up in Portsmouth and having a grandfather who crossed the channel on D-Day makes it difficult to miss the immense efforts of our armed forces community.

My aim is simple, improve the services offered to ex-service and serving personnel so that the system is worthy of the men and women who use it.

Visits like this are integral to this process, if we can observe the challenges and successes faced by organisations such as Blind Veterans UK, we can use this a blueprint for change. I look forward to continuing to raise the issue of the wellbeing of our armed forces in Parliament and ensuring their voice is heard.”

 

 

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

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

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

Stephen Morgan MP said:

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Morgan said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commenting further on his visit, Stephen Morgan MP said:

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

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

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

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Labour to revolutionise local services putting people at the heart

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

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

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

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

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

Under the new plans, Labour will:

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

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

Newly appointed Shadow Communities Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

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

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

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

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

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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