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City MP vows to maintain pressure on Government over poor rail service

Stephen Morgan MP has hit out at the Government Transport Secretary in his response to a letter he received last week from the department.

Since Mr Morgan was elected, he has been relentless in his calls for better rail services. Meeting with rail providers, attending cross-party parliamentary rail groups, asking questions in the chamber, submitting written questions and speaking to commuters in his patch.

In his recent letter to the Secretary of State, Mr Morgan spoke of his record of delivery and pledged to do more.

In an attempt to answer Mr Morgan’s tireless efforts to raise awareness of this ongoing plight affecting his constituents, Grant Shapps MP wrote a one-page letter to Mr Morgan setting out the Government strategy.

Mr Morgan said:

“While I appreciate the Secretary of State acknowledging the substandard service my constituents have been forced to endure in recent times, it doesn’t contain any detail. No dates. No numbers. No timeframes.

This is an issue that will affect my constituents tomorrow, they need to know now when the Government plans to resolve this issue. 67% of the trains run on time, what if Portsmouth people only paid their fares 67% of the time? There would be uproar.

It is time that Government took responsibly for the fact they have done nothing to address substandard train delivery and came up with a robust strategy for dealing with it.”

Mr Morgan also spoke out on what exactly was needed to improve rail services:

“There is an intrinsic need to not only improve rail times, but to also refurbish and upgrade Portsmouth rail stations and stations in the surrounding areas.

Access issues, faulty toilets, poor quality seating arrangements, unsightly exteriors and limited step free access are just some of the issues faced.

I have asked the Secretary of State to actually explain how he plans to deal with this rather than offer a half-baked proposal supported by no real commitment.

I used to commute every day from Fratton, where I grew up, to my job in London. I know first-hand the frustration at paying gold standard prices for a substandard service.”

Mr Morgan regularly raises the matter both in Parliament and in Portsmouth and has vowed to continue being a voice for commuters and rail users in his patch.

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Responding to the DfT announcement of £400,000 for Portsmouth International Port today, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Whilst today’s announcement is long-overdue, and helps provide much needed support for Portsmouth International Port at this time of huge uncertainty, the allocation is a mere drop in the ocean for the challenges that the city will face under a no-deal Brexit.

With no-deal preparations costing the nation £170,000 per hour, that’s money better spent on our city’s schools and hospitals.

The city council has said relations with the Department of Transport had been ‘highly problematical’. We had high hopes the Transport Secretary had listened to Portsmouth when he finally visited the Port last week to hear how the council and its partners had been spending taxpayer’s money preparing for a no-deal Brexit and trying to avoid traffic chaos and congestion in our city. It now seems this may not be the case.

I’ll keep lobbying for Portsmouth to push this Government to invest in our city. The port’s success is our city’s success. Our economy and the public services we all rely on depend on it”.

It has been confirmed that £400,000 has been allocated towards a gate camera and vehicle booking system for Portsmouth. The Port was hoping for double that amount of funding and may need to find other ways to meet the shortfall.

 

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Hundreds flock to City MP’s bus bolstering local roadshow

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, has held a public consultation alongside First Bus for Portsmouth residents so that community members share their views. The event comes at a time when across the country people voice concerns over dwindling routes, soaring fares and reduced access.

The roadshow, which took place on Commercial Road, involved a static bus where residents could meet with the Portsmouth South representative and senior members of the First Bus team and saw people attend in their hundreds.

Mr Morgan said:

“Bus services are a vital lifeline for many within our community here in Portsmouth. Whether it is helping elderly people visit friends and family or providing those who live with a disability with independence – buses play a crucial role in connecting communities and fending off social isolation and loneliness.

This roadshow gave the people who use the services a platform to speak on the matters that concern them and ensured their voice is heard. As someone who does not drive and uses either buses or bicycle to get around our city, I know how important this is.”

Mr Morgan’s action on bus access comes at a time when the sector is under strain. Across the country over 3,000 bus routes have been cut or withdrawn while fares have risen at over twice the rate of wages, hitting the poorest hardest and particularly affecting the young, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The local MP said:

“This event was as useful to me as it was for my fellow community members. Not only did it provide them with the means to relay feedback, it has produced vital information on the key themes affecting local residents with regard to buses.

I am committed to ensuring that this feedback is utilised by First Bus and is taken back to Westminster where it will feed into correspondence with the Department for Transport and help influence my work as Shadow Communities Minister.

Portsmouth has seen 17% less bus journeys in the space of just one year making it the second worst affected city in the UK. I am a firm believer in getting out and speaking to people, that is the best way to address a community issue.”

At a time when the Conservatives have seen 3,000 routes cut, Labour has expressed a will to subsidise non-profitable but socially important bus routes, simplify ticketing options and make all bus travel free for under 25s.

Mr Morgan said:

“Our city has an issue with air quality, congestion and environmental degradation. Sustainable travel offers a viable solution to these problems.

I am committed to ensuring that access to buses for Portsmouth peoples remains high on the Labour agenda both in our city and in Parliament.”