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Stephen Morgan MP’s action update on Covid-19

As we approach the fast growth part of the virus curve and tragically the UK death toll rises to 53, I have been taking action in parliament to ensure Portsmouth people are as protected as they can be.

As measures are put in place by government there will be a number of economic, social and health implications in our community. Each day I will be working hard to see to it that voices are heard, and issues raised.

Actions I have taken in the House of Commons today include:

  • Putting pressure on government to stop evictions – I today wrote to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government demanding an eviction ban for renters affected by Covid-19. The proposal I made would safeguard more than 20 million people – eight and a half million households – who rent their homes from private, council or housing association landlords, including three million households with children.
  • Working to secure a joined-up volunteer response – Volunteers will help deal with everything from delivering shopping to tackling social isolation. I have reached out to Hive Portsmouth, responsible for coordinating volunteers in our community, to urge them to provide information on their volunteer strategy as we progress.
  • Being a voice for older community members – Following the Health Secretary’s advice for over 70s to isolate, I have taken action to tackle potential loneliness. I have today put pressure on the Culture Secretary to delay the introduction of TV licence fees for over 75s. It is imperative that our older community members have a timely flow of information throughout this crisis.
  • Raising our communities’ issues in parliament – As an MP I have the power to raise concerns immediately through written questions. I have today submitted targeted questions seeking government funding for council tax relief for those affected by Covid-19, applied pressure on how they will combat the stockpiling crisis, what role our armed forces will play and a host of other areas.
  • Being a strong voice for our armed forces – Part of tackling the Covid-19 crisis is safeguarding issues of national importance. Today I worked to ensure that action is taken to combat growing cyber security threats. We cannot afford to have another NHS cyber attack during the Covid-19 crisis.

These are the key actions I have taken today. I will continue to stand up for Portsmouth in the face of Covid-19 and will provide a regular update on actions. We are a resilient community made of tough stuff. Side by side by side we will overcome the Covid-19 crisis.

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After a ‘decade of decline’ Budget brings more disappointment for Portsmouth people

Today (Wednesday 11 March 2020) the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered this Government’s first Budget. Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has slammed the Government’s budget for not ensuring an end to austerity and no real investment for the city.

Mr Morgan unpicked the Chancellor’s fiscal plans and called out the fact Portsmouth and the South East continue to be neglected with no robust plans to redress the inequality caused by Tory austerity.

Mr Morgan said:

“Over the last ten years we have seen a decade of decline. Cuts to public services we all rely on as we pay more, but get less, and infrastructure holding our city and our region back.

In today’s budget I know Portsmouth people were hoping for real investment for the city and an end to austerity.

Instead we saw a political panto in the House of Commons, with soundbites with no serious consideration of the challenges our city faces.

We now risk another five more years of more disappointment for Portsmouth”.

The IFS have said that cuts to funding from the government have led to a 17% fall in councils spending on local services since 2010. This has pushed local government to become reliant on local taxes for revenues, in particular council tax.

The Government’s financial plans also received heavy criticism on their failure to address national issues. No real solutions have been put forward to address the climate crisis through infrastructure projects, austerity has not ended and the NHS is creaking ahead of a potential coronavirus strain.

On the national picture, Mr Morgan said:

“In recent weeks, Government has utterly failed to provide leadership in response to storms, flooding, and the coronavirus outbreak.

Is this the budget that will combat issues of international significance such as Coronavirus, the Social Emergency, and Climate Change?  Regrettably there is no evidence to suggest it will.

It seems yet again Mr Johnson has delivered on nothing but empty promises and left the people of Britain to deal with the consequences.

The city MP has long been lobbying for a fairer funding formula for Hampshire Constabulary, calling out government cuts to city schools, championing the need for proper investment in Portsmouth Naval Base, calling for a solution to the social care crisis and the need for the black hole in Ministry of Defence funding to be addressed. The Budget today made no effort to combat these issues.

 

 

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Keir Starmer joins Stephen Morgan in backing Portsmouth’s green initiatives

Stephen Morgan MP hosted Labour leadership front-runner Keir Starmer in Portsmouth to broadcast the benefits of active travel in tackling climate change.

Joined by senior Brompton representatives, the two parliamentarians spent time at the Cycle Hire Hub at Portsmouth Harbour Station.

The current air pollution crisis in Portsmouth, need for more government investment in active travel infrastructure, and Labour’s plan for a greener future were discussed.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Key to tackling climate change is ensuring people have the tools to make changes to their everyday routine. Active travel is a major part of that.

In Portsmouth we face some of the worst air pollution rates in the country. Children choking on fumes is not what this city deserves.

That is why I support Brompton’s Cycle Hire Hub, which makes green commuting easier and takes polluting vehicles off our roads.

Keir’s support for this initiative coupled with his pledge to put the Green New Deal at the heart of everything Labour does, secure him as the only Labour candidate able to bring radical solutions to the climate problem.”

Keir Starmer MP said:

“The recent extreme weather is further evidence that we are living through a climate emergency.

“It is fantastic that Stephen has shown leadership in Portsmouth on this issue by backing Brompton’s bike scheme, organising community events and leading the charge to declaring a climate emergency in the city.

“If elected Labour leader, I would support a Green New Deal and also a Clean Air Act – to ensure that dangerous levels of air pollution are tackled.”

Julian Scriven, Managing Director of Brompton Bike Hire said:

“Brompton is committed  to changing the way people move around cities. We are delighted that both Stephen Morgan MP and Sir Kier Starmer MP share this vision and are demonstrating a real drive at both a local and national level to promote active travel”.

Stephen Morgan MP has a record of delivery when it comes to tackling climate change. From leading the Labour Group locally in declaring a climate emergency and orchestrating major Portsmouth events to voting in favour of legislation In the House of Commons, he has shown leadership from Portsmouth to parliament.

 Keir Starmer and the city MP were joined by a number of Labour councillors and campaigners for more ambitious action by the council to tackle the climate crisis.

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City MP urges Portsmouth people to photograph and pick up plastic

 

Stephen Morgan MP praises local team behind innovative app and encourages Portsmouth people to take part.

Jetsam, developed by Company of Makers, Maker’s Guild and Hack Pompey, was officially launched last week at the Festival of the Sea. The app aims to up the city’s game in ending single-use plastics in Portsmouth.

Photos of plastic are taken by users of the app to show where most waste is in the city alongside other data, help predict where it will wash up along the city’s shoreline, and prevent further pollution of our environment.

The city MP, who has downloaded the app in support of efforts by others, is calling on more Portsmouth people to get involved, to download the app and help the war against plastic.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Storms Ciara and Dennis battering our shores over recent days have reminded us all of the plastic pollution which blights our oceans and our shoreline.

We are lucky enough in our city to have dedicated teams of beach clean volunteers but the root cause and ultimately the real solution lies with the producers of plastics. That’s why I am continuing to call on the government to stop plastic getting into our seas in the first place and want manufacturers to make sure pointless plastics aren’t produced.

The Jetsam app helps raise awareness in our community about the need to drastically cut single-use waste and reminds everyone there’s something each and every one of us can do to clean up our environment. We can’t just forget about plastic once it’s rehidden in the ocean.

I often describe Portsmouth as a place for makers and doers. I want to thank Steve Bomford and team for coming up with this initiative idea and making this app. With Jetsam, people in our city have the opportunity to do their bit, and bring about positive change”.

The free app is available to anyone to download and use on their mobile device.

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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 pledges to protect oceans

Stephen Morgan MP, who signed up to Greenpeace’s oceans pledge earlier this month, has now called on Government to support a bold Global Ocean Treaty in a number of cutting parliamentary questions.

The city MP’s parliamentary actions come amid UN discussions in New York surrounding the Global Ocean Treaty.

The continued efforts follow local actions by campaigners which the Portsmouth South representative is supporting.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Overfishing, plastic pollution, and oil drilling are gutting our oceans of life and destroying delicate ecosystems. There is no planet B and we cannot afford for complacency.

Right now, only 1% of the world’s oceans are protected. Scientists say that we need to protect at least 30% by 2030.

It falls at the feet of government to treat this issue with due priority and ensure that appropriate representation is sent to New York for discussions around the Global Ocean Treaty.”

The talks have been described as being on a knife edge – and could result in a weak treaty unable to properly protect marine life.

Mr Morgan added:

I have submitted questions directly to the Government department responsible in a bid to urge a strong UK presence at these international discussions.

To get the ambitious deal our oceans and climate need, we need senior politicians in the negotiating room who can push for a strong treaty.”

Tackling the climate emergency and being a national voice on environmental matters is a priority for the Portsmouth MP. He has been working closely with Friends of the Earth, has orchestrated constituency-based climate events, regularly speaks at climate strikes, has used the Queen’s Speech debate to raise the issue and has made repeated calls on Government to treat climate change as a top priority.

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City MP turns words into action at standing room only climate event in Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP this weekend hosted a climate change event at a city venue sharing ideas on how to improve Portsmouth’s approach to tackling the environmental crisis.

The event, which was attended by around 90 people and was standing room only, was orchestrated by Stephen Morgan MP who shared the stage with Oxford City Council’s Cabinet Member for a zero carbon Oxford, Cllr Tom Hayes.

Mr Morgan said:

“Local authorities are on the front line when it comes to tackling the climate emergency. With time running out and crisis point already reached, addressing this issue will remain a top priority for me.

Oxford are trailblazers when it comes to going green at local authority level. The reason I hosted Cllr Hayes here is so that we in Portsmouth can capture what works and help replicate it.

Today was the first of a series of events and ideas I’m planning in 2020 that will help spread change in our city. Success is built upon shared ideas and learning from others, I will lead from the front when it comes to making the changes our communities need.”

The city MP’s work comes at a crucial time. Portsmouth City Council is ranked as one of the lowest for recycling rates, is in the midst of an air pollution crisis described as ‘dangerous’ by the British Heart Foundation and has a low Friends of the Earth Green rating.

The city MP said:

“Portsmouth City Council can do better. Rather than simply highlighting their failings, I will create opportunities for improvement.

Oxford has a commendable record of encouraging green business models, introducing the world’s first Zero Emission Zone from 2020 and has proliferated the use of electric vehicles by introducing widespread charging points. These are changes made at local authority level that we can match.

Portsmouth people are makers and doers, I have every faith that in the future we can be a flagship green city leading from the front. I will do everything in my power to reach that goal.”

Stephen Morgan is no stranger to climate change action. He has consistently voted in favour of legislation in parliament, lead the Labour group to declaring an emergency locally, has spoken out in Queens Speech debates, hosted roundtable meetings in Portsmouth, launched a tree planting scheme and taken countless other measures.

 

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“Portsmouth needs to do more to tackle climate emergency “ – states city MP

Friends of the Earth have produced detailed, local authority specific data for the ranking of councils across Britain on their record of tackling climate change.

Portsmouth has finished low down in the bottom quarter with just a 60% rating, putting it amongst some of the nation’s lowest-scoring. The data release coincides with national media coverage this week outlining how Portsmouth clean air charging zone is being scaled back.

Considering recent developments on the clean air zone, Mr Morgan said:

“Portsmouth is in the midst of an air pollution crisis that has been described by experts as ‘dangerous’. The fact that the centre of Portsmouth could become a chargeable clean air zone – rather than the whole of Portsea Island – is the manifestation of the Council Leader’s indifference to the matter.

We know as a result the 11,000 people in this city who live with heart conditions are at greater risk of stroke and heart attack and our children’s lung capacity is heavily reduced. We need a radical overhaul of the way we tackle air pollution, not this lack-lustre tokenistic gesture.”

City MP, Stephen Morgan has for some time been speaking out against the ‘reactionary’ approach taken by the city council to datel in tackling climate change locally and has cited the air pollution crisis as a testament to the current council administration’s indifference to the issue.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

The reason that the council is performing so poorly when it comes to tackling climate change is simple. The current administration is not taking the issue seriously enough.

The Lib Dems are presiding over an avoidable air pollution crisis, which has been allowed to reach highly dangerous levels and meant the Council Leader has subsequently gone to beg at the feet of Government for help.

We have some of the worst recycling rates, which is again one of the lowest in the country at 24%. There has been a failure to take any action over implementing a cycle hire scheme. We have some of the lowest tree coverage in the country. Our city really does deserve much better.

Climate Change is not something that you can shirk or avoid. These helpful findings from Friends of the Earth remind us again that the administration’s ‘dog ate my homework’ approach is not the bold attitude we need to address the biggest issue our city and our planet has ever faced. This report must now act as a wakeup call to the Council Leader to do better.”

In March Portsmouth Labour worked with community activists to force the council to declare a climate emergency. Since then, Labour councillors have been working hard to push the council into action.

The city MP added:

“It was the Labour Group, under my leadership, who pioneered the movement locally to declare a climate emergency. It was Labour who tabled the motion nationally to declare the same in Parliament.

Local authorities have an important and often over-looked role in cutting carbon emissions and solving the climate crisis. But they can’t do it all themselves, which is why I am pushing for more powers and finance alongside government action.

Since joining the shadow front benches, I have been visiting local authorities leading the charge when it comes to climate change to formulate party policy on best practice. In seeing these trailblazers, it made was apparent that Portsmouth must do so much more.

I will continue to put pressure on the government and council to place the climate emergency at the front of all decision making. Change starts at home”.

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Portsmouth MP sets out changes needed to combat climate change during Queen’s Speech debate

Stephen Morgan MP has delivered an impassioned speech to parliament today setting out what needs to be done to tackle climate change and applying scrutiny to the Government’s ropey track record on the issue.

The MP spoke out on the 4th day of debates relating to the Queen’s Speech and called on his colleagues to regard climate change at the top of the parliamentary agenda and to work together to achieve progress.

While delivering the speech, Mr Morgan said:

“The mildly technical nature and distant-sounding threat of ‘climate change’ may not be enough to invoke people to come out fighting from their beds.

But pretty much all of us would do so to protect our loved ones, our homes and our livelihoods, and to build a better world.

Why should defending against climate change be any different?

So, let’s be honest about the challenges we face, let’s tackle it together, and let’s redouble our efforts.”

Responding to Ministerial statements after the speech, Mr Morgan highlighted the Government’s poor track on climate change.

Mr Morgan said:

This Government, led by an ambassador of climate change indifference, is falling far short of the mark.

Failure to deliver on 24 out of 25 emissions-reducing actions recommended by the climate committee in 2018.

Just 7 of 24 indicators showing the UK’s underlying progress towards its climate goals being met.

Missed targets for the fourth and fifth Carbon Budgets, even more than predicted in last year’s official update.

We need to see a party in power that set aside serious proposals for tackling the world’s most pressing issue.”

Mr Morgan has also stressed the need for robust legislation and binding agreements, which experts such as Friends of the Earth have warned are essential in formulating an appropriate climate change bill.

On the introduction of a new environment change bill, Mr Morgan said:

“We must see an environment Bill strong enough to create change throughout Government, industry and society.

Allowing this Bill to be consumed by the Brexit shadow would be a fatal mistake and it is integral that we see an end to toothless scrutiny and non-binding legislation.”

The MP’s actions in parliament today are part of a broad campaign aimed at raising the profile and rate of action over tackling climate change. Mr Morgan regularly meets with Friends of the Earth, lead the Labour Group locally to declaring a climate emergency, has consistently voted in favour of climate legislation, hosts meeting with local activist and speaks out regularly in Parliament.

Mr Morgan also used the opportunity to lobby Government over illegal air pollution levels in the city and need to meet in Southsea Sea Defence Scheme.

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City MP joins tree planting in bid to get to root of climate change

The city MP today joined climate protestors from Extinction Rebellion and environmental consultants, Rising Forests outside parliament as part of a nationwide tree planting scheme.

Stephen Morgan MP accepted a hickory tree from activists and is currently engaging with residents over where best to plant the fledgling plant.

The MP is no stranger to tree planting in his patch and has already planted 100 across Portsmouth South, a joint operation that both paid tribute to suffragettes and combatted local air pollution.

Mr Morgan said:

“Portsmouth faces an air pollution crisis that both the council and Government must do better on.

Trees will play a major role in mitigating against this problem as they absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, reduce temperatures locally and help foster biodiversity.

Portsmouth only has 8% tree coverage which is way below the national average, I am not wasting any time in proactively changing this. I have already shown leadership by planting over 100 locally with many more to come but I welcome the contribution that the council can make to this project.”

Extinction Rebellion alongside other climate activists formulated 1000 British trees in the shape of the British Isles next to Parliament square for MPs and senior bodies to collect and plant in their local areas. Mr Morgan joined them today to discuss strategy and the actions he is taking Portsmouth.

On the scheme, Mr Morgan said:

“Sadly, UK forest coverage is just 10% and we need to see a 200% increase if we are to come in line with our European neighbours, the project run today as part of XR Global Rebellion is tackling this issue head-on.

Recent studies have shown that global tree restoration is our most effective climate change solution to date, and I will continue to support and advocate for this strategy of getting out and planting trees.”

Today’s action by the Portsmouth South MP is mirrored by his party’s policy, Labour plan to plant an ‘NHS forest’ of a million trees at hospitals and firmly support tree planting as one of many solutions in tackling climate change.