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City MP demands meeting with Minister over Stanhope House student accommodation crisis

On 9 September, Prime Student Living (PSL), who are managing a new student development named Stanhope House on Commercial Road, failed to provide accommodation for over 250 students at the start of term. 

Since then, Stephen Morgan MP has submitted written questions to the Department for Education, written to PSL directly, written to the regulator, visited the site, met with the university, spoken out in the media, spoken directly with students affected and worked alongside Cllr Cal Corkery.

In Mr Morgan’s latest bid to bridge the gap in regulation and help affected local students, the city MP has written to the Government Minister responsible demanding an urgent meeting.

Mr Morgan Said:

“I have spoken to students impacted by this issue and I am deeply concerned about the effect that the PSL failure is having on them.

Some have been rehoused miles away from lectures and friends, others in places with no wi-fi. The opening weeks of university play a crucial role in academic life and career path, I will not allow private accommodation providers to recklessly gamble with Portsmouth students’ futures.

When I submitted parliamentary written questions to the Minister, he regrettably said that this was not a Government matter. I refuse to accept this and have written demanding a meeting so that we can work together to stop this from happening again

I look forward to continuing to work alongside Cllr Cal Corkery in standing up for Portsmouth students and ensuring they have a platform to be heard on”.

There have been widespread reports of students affected are feeling anxious about their living conditions. Many have outlined deep-set disappointment with the £150 that they have been issued which does not even cover one week’s rent.

In response to Mr Morgan’s written questions, the Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation replied:

“Higher education (HE) providers are autonomous bodies, independent from government; government plays no direct role in the provision of student residential accommodation” (full response in public domain).

Another key point raised by the Portsmouth South MP is that the taxpayer is essentially bankrolling these developments and therefore it is in the public interest to ensure they are of an acceptable standard.

Mr Morgan said:

“No matter which city you enter in the UK, you will notice an everchanging skyline continually infiltrated by new blocks of student flats.

While these are often private investments, make no mistake this funding comes from the tax payers’ purse via student maintenance loans.

Transparency, honesty, and continuity. This is not too much to ask of Government when it comes to regulating student accommodation.”

Mr Morgan and the University of Portsmouth are both in consensus that there is a clear regulatory gap exists. The Office for Students (OfS) regulates universities but has no regulatory power over private student accommodation providers. This clear gap in regulation is leaving students open to exploitation

On how he wants to see this resolved, Mr Morgan said:

“A similar problem occurred last year with Crown Place and I have seen that there have been 20 alike cases around the country this year alone.

The Government has a responsibility to our students, and it is not good enough to simply shift blame to private companies.

This is not the first time that this has happened. I want to make sure it is the last.

There is essentially inadequate regulation of purpose build student accommodation and we need to see more inclusive legislation that gives students more protection.

I look forward to the Minister responding to my meeting request so that we can get on with taking action over this matter.”

Stephen Morgan MP is in regular and constant communication with the University of Portsmouth over this matter and has vowed to submit a Westminster Hall debate on the topic if the Government Minister refuses to accommodate a meeting.

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WASPI fight goes on, vows Portsmouth MP

Responding to the judgement from the High Court today over the raising of the state pension age and the impact this had on women born in the 1950s, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This is a terrible blow for the millions of women across our country and the 9,000 women affected in Portsmouth who will have been hoping for a very different outcome today.

The decision to hike the state pension age with next to no notice didn’t just throw their retirement plans up in the air, it also left many women on lower incomes really struggling to make ends meet.

I support the equalisation of the state pension age so that men and women retire at the same age, but believe any changes should be carried out in a fair way. Portsmouth people have told me their concerns over the Government’s decision to speed up the rise in the age for women and how this has affected them. Some are now facing real hardship as a result.

Justice and the state pension that was so cruelly snatched away from so many women remains disappointingly out of reach.

Despite today’s decision women born in the 1950s will not give up their campaign to get back what they are rightly owed and nor will I. Our fight goes on to end this injustice.

Since becoming a City MP, Mr Morgan has been taking action over the Government’s unfair changes to the State Pension Age imposed on women born in the 1950s. 

The Portsmouth South MP has now called a public meeting to hear views of women affected and continue to take action:

The ‘Have your say on pensions fairness’ event is taking place on Saturday 12 October 2019, 12-1.30pm at the John Pounds Centre,23 Queen Street, Portsmouth PO1 3HN. This is a public event for the Portsmouth South constituency with Solent WASPI. To confirm your place visit www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/waspi

Encouraging women affected to attend his public meeting, Stephen Morgan MP added:

“For the sake of my own Mother, and over 9,000 women affected in Portsmouth, I will continue to work hard to end this injustice.

Please come along to this important public meeting, bring a friend and tell a neighbour. Make sure your voice is heard. Together let’s get the Government to finally act”.

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Wave Maiden nominated for parliamentary pub of year by City MP

Stephen Morgan MP nominates the Wave Maiden in Southsea for the prestigious Parliamentary Pub of the Year

The national awards, which culminate in a final at the House of Commons, offer all Members of Parliament the opportunity to nominate their constituency’s favourite boozer.

This award focuses on celebrating pubs in our community and Stephen Morgan MP has nominated the Wave Maiden on Osborne Road, Southsea as the entrant from the Portsmouth South constituency.

The nomination follows a call out on social media and in The News, with over 280 suggestions from constituents. The Wave Maiden topped the poll, with The Phoenix and Staggeringly Good coming second and third respectively.

The Parliamentary Pub of the year competition will give 650 MPs the opportunity to nominate a pub to be recognised as the Parliamentary pub of the Year.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The hundreds of people that took part in this nomination process and stiff competition is a testament to the thriving pub scene we are fortunate enough to have in Portsmouth.

From providing a place to meet friends and socialise to offering a platform to up and coming local performer, pubs play a crucial role when it comes to community cohesion. Awards such as this give us the chance the recognise this.

Having been to the Wave Maiden, I can see why it was selected by Portsmouth people. I am delighted that their hard work and dedication has been recognised and am confident that they will go even further in the next round of the national awards ceremony.”

A representative from the Wave Maiden added:

“On behalf of our entire team we’d like to thank everyone who nominated us and to those who support us.

We’re honoured to be recognised as a pub with the community at it’s heart. Enriching our area is something we have always strived toward and we are proud and humbled to have made a positive impact on so many people along the way.

We appreciate this recognition greatly and will continue to do our best for Portsmouth.”

The main criteria for nomination is a pub that is great at what they do, this can include the range of beer or food provided, the dedication to serving the local community or a specialist in music or sports.

Nominated Pubs will be required to submit a video to the judges for the next round.

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The Google Digital Garage picks Portsmouth as home for new digital skills training hub 

Stephen Morgan MP recently met with the Google Digital Garage team where it was agreed that a new digital skills training hub would be erected in his constituency. Mr Morgan is set to speak at the opening on Friday 11 October.

The hub, which seeks to provide local people with essential online skills is setting up on Commercial Road. Google’s Digital Garage will provide support for local small businesses and comes on the back of Mr Morgan’s long running high streets campaign.

The launch of the new Google Digital Garage hub is part of a major investment to help boost digital skills throughout the UK and will be offering free digital skills training for constituents spanning everything from introduction to coding, to social media strategy courses and even how to build a digital CV. 

The city MP has been talking to Google about coming to the city for over a year.

Mr Morgan said:

“The importance of being confident and capable online in this digital age is integral to anyone wanting to develop their business ideas or even their own profile.

The presence of the Google Digital Garage on commercial road, accompanied by the touring route master Digital Garage bus, will greatly boost access to these essential skills and I strongly encourage Portsmouth people to get involved.

Whether it is learning how to be safe online or receiving new marketing guidance from a global tech leader, there is something for everyone.

I look forward to continuing my work with the Google Digital Garage team when it comes to supplying my constituents with first rate, free-at-the-point-of-delivery training and skills.”

As well as the bricks and mortar hub located on Commercial Road, a route master bus bus will be visiting key locations around the constituency in a bid to ensure that all Portsmouth people have the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.

With access for all in mind, Mr Morgan is currently working closely with the Google Digital Garage team to locate the best areas for the bus to travel to.

Mr Morgan said:

“Portsmouth high streets are facing challenges, with giants like Knight & Lee and Debenhams closing their doors for the last time, now more than ever it is essential that we support local people and businesses.

Where the Government are failing, it is good to see organisations like Google stepping in and taking this proactive stance and delivering services to Portsmouth people.”

Ronan Harris, Managing Director, Google UK and Ireland commented:

“Today, the need for digital skills is becoming more obvious in all sectors including those which feel far from technology related. This latest research shows that the digital skills gap is a reality for many communities across the country and with this comes limitations of personal and professional growth and opportunity.”

That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve opened a new Digital Garage training hub in Portsmouth. By supplying tailored training, we hope to provide the tools and digital skills required to grow the careers of individuals throughout the South East.”

The Digital Garage will open on 105a Commercial Road, Portsmouth PO1 1BQ. If you would like more information about courses, what’s on and who will be there, get in touch at stephen.morgan.mp@parliament.uk or visit: https://events.withgoogle.com/portsmouthgarage/

 

 

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City MP visits BAE Systems at Broad Oak

Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan visited our Broad Oak site earlier today (Monday 30 September), to find out more about BAE Systems capabilities in the city, and speak to colleagues and unions.

Stephen had a tour of the site, where he visited the Manufacturing Hall and Micro-electronics Labs, and spent time talking to some of our colleagues on our apprenticeship and graduate programmes. Stephen also met with some of the Trade Union representatives and even had time to help us out with a bit of filming!

Stephen was grateful for the time spent with the Trade Union and some of the BAE Systems team:

It was good to see the work the company does in support of our nation’s security, the jobs they offer local people and their award-winning apprenticeship programme.

Jon Penny, our Head of Manufacturing and site lead at Broad Oak, gave Stephen the site tour and co-hosted him during his time with us.

Jon added:

“It was great to host Stephen and be able to demonstrate and talk-through some of our fantastic capabilities and the products we design, build and operate, both here and within the wider Products & Training Services business.

As you might expect Stephen was really interested in what we do here, and especially our presence and impact in the wider Portsmouth community, but he’s also passionate about careers and what we can do for young people, so he really seemed to enjoy talking to some of our colleagues on our early careers programmes.”

 

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Inspiring Fratton Awards branded success following first ever ceremony

As part of the Fratton Family Festival, Stephen Morgan MP has awarded 11 upstanding members of the community with Inspiring Fratton Awards.

The awards, which were pioneered by the local-born MP and Fratton Big Local, have commended members of the community that have a long-running connection with the ward and who have gone above and beyond to enrich the local area.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“As someone who was born and raised in Fratton, I know that there are certain people in the community who go out of their way to improve their local area.

Despite the fact our communities would not be the same without them, their work often goes without recognition. These awards are about making sure they get the credit they deserve for making our communities brighter.

These are the people that make Fratton not just a place to live, but a place to call home.

While this was the first time the awards have ever been issued, I look forward to continuing to commend local members of the community who are ward-wide ambassadors and make their area a place to be proud of”.

The awards featured a variety of categories ranging from Sport and Art to Best Café and Educational Achievement and seek to showcase a cross-section of skill sets on offer in the area.

Mr Morgan said:

It is integral that the awards match the many ways that people contribute. That is why we have such a comprehensive list of classifications.

By having such a diverse array of categories and age specific commendations, I am confident that Inspiring Fratton Awards give all those who make their ward a bit brighter the opportunity to be recognised.

By having awards for both those above and under 18, we hope to ensure that those who have just started the journey for community improvement are recognised and encouraged.”

The Fratton Traders Association and Fratton Big Local worked together tirelessly to bring music, performance, children’s activities and stalls to the south end of Fratton on Sunday 15 September. 

Following the festivities, the city MP said:

“So many people just drive through Fratton, not realising the community spirit held in the ward. At the Festival they get a chance to stop and relax in the area.

From discovering the diversity of food available to seeing the many skilled barbers and hidden gems like the My Dog Sighs Mural in Cornwall road – the event offers a first-rate experience in Fratton.

Fratton is strengthened by its diversity and the importance of bringing the community together cannot be underestimated.

The fact that this event was successful paves the way for a long tradition of hosting both the festivities and the Inspiring Fratton Awards in the area”

Bob White Chair of Fratton Big Local said:

The commendations given out by Inspiring Fratton Awards to 11 outstanding members of our community, from a diverse mix of ages and skill sets, fits perfectly with the ethos of the Fratton Family Festival.

The festivities are about coming together, pride in our community and fostering a sense of unity. I believe that by commending those who are striving to achieve this, the Inspiring Fratton Awards go a long way in showcasing the depth of talent we are fortunate enough to have.

The success of Fratton Family Festival and the Inspiring Fratton Awards this year sets the tone of future celebrations. Fratton Big Local looks forward to our continued partnership with Stephen Morgan MP and others in seeking out and commending our upstanding community members.”

 

 

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“We need a serious overhaul of the way we think about waste” as City MP signs Manchester Declaration

Shadow Communities Minister, Stephen Morgan MP has pledged support for a fresh, green campaign aimed at making our household goods easier to repair and less disposable. 

Mr Morgan is one of the first MPs to add his name to “The Manchester Declaration”, an open letter aimed at manufacturers, policy makers and designers seeking to make items less disposable and easier to repair.

Mr Morgan said:

“From phone batteries that cannot be easily replaced to cables that are deliberately given a short life span, coaxing the public into spending more hard-earned cash – everywhere we look is the unnecessary disposal of goods.

If we are to address the climate emergency, it will require a serious overhaul of the way we think about waste. Support for this campaign ties in with a great deal of the other work that I am doing to tackle climate change.

Whether lobbying for better active travel in Portsmouth or meeting with Friends of the Earth and voting in favour of a climate emergency – this issue will remain a priority.

The Manchester Declaration, orchestrated by grass roots community repair movements, is a major first step on the road to reducing excess. I am proud to be one of the first MPs to add their name to the declaration and look forward to raising the awareness of this valid campaign in Parliament.”

Stephen Morgan MP is no stranger to taking a proactive stance to tackling climate change.

The city MP regularly holds green coffee mornings, is involved in local beach plastic collections, played an instrumental role in declaring a Climate Emergency locally and nationally, has close ties with Friends of the Earth and has lobbied Government hard over Portsmouth’s poor air quality.

Clare Seek, Founder of Repair café Portsmouth said:

“I am delighted that Stephen Morgan MP is one of just five MPs to add their name to The Manchester Declaration.

Whilst the strength of this movement lies in its grass-roots mentality, it is essential that politicians get on board and promote this push for sustainability, including legislative change to bring us a real Right to Repair.

I hope that Stephen, taking this proactive stance to tackle the climate emergency, inspires other MPs and community groups to get involved.

I look forward to continuing to help the people of Portsmouth keep their products lasting longer; saving them money, saving the planet, sharing skills and having fun along the way.”

The movement was born out of the 2018 FixFest, a regular global gathering of repairers, activists, policy makers and companies from all over the world.

The aim is to ensure that appliances that fail prematurely can be fixed rather than disposed of.

The UK repair community largely offers collaborative repair opportunities in the form of community café’s in easy to access spaces. The idea is spreading across the nation and most cities across the country offer the service.

The City MP said:

“Not only is the campaign helping our communities go greener and saving us money, it is spreading new skills in a fun way.

Learning to fix an electrical appliance in a safe environment could be the spark that ignites an interest in engineering or mechanics. This coupled with the fact these events are in open local spaces fosters a community spirit and gives people the chance to meet others who share their interest.”

Portsmouth’s Repair Café is on the 3rd Saturday of each month, from 10.30am to 1pm at Buckland URC, 174 Kingston Road, Fratton. Find your nearest Repair Café at https://repaircafe.org/en/visit/

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“A stain on our society” City MP brands new figures showing 80% rise in homeless children

New national analysis on the number of children in temporary accommodation has highlighted the complete failure of the Tory Government to deal with this important issue despite the Conservatives saying their success will be judged by how ‘we care for the weakest and most vulnerable at home.’

Figures buried in the website of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show that since the Tories took office the number of children in temporary accommodation accepted by local authorities has increased by 80%.

The latest figures also reveal that the number of households in temporary accommodation has increased by 74% from 2010 to 2018.

City MP Stephen Morgan has contacted the Local Authority in a bid to find out exactly how many have been affected in his patch.

Mr Morgan, commenting on these figures, said:

“When this Conservative Government ends, the national shame of rising homelessness will be on its political tombstone.

Homelessness fell at an unprecedented rate under Labour, but under the Tories even more children will be homeless this Christmas.

This is a direct result of Conservative decisions to slash investment for affordable homes, cut back housing benefit, reduce funding for homelessness services, and deny protection to private renters.

I hope the city council shares with me the detailed city-wide data so that we can see the extent of the problem locally and draw up plans to hold the Government to account over their neglect.

The fact that we have homeless children is stain on our society. It must be addressed.”

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“Fratton is a place to be proud of” says City MP as excitement builds before local festival

As part of the Fratton Family Festival this weekend, Stephen Morgan MP will be awarding upstanding members of the community with Inspiring Fratton Awards. 

The awards, which were pioneered by the local-born MP and Fratton Big Local, will commend members of the community that have a long-running connection with the ward and who have gone above and beyond to enrich the local area.

Mr Morgan said:

“As someone who was born and raised in Fratton, I know that there are certain people in the community who go out of their way to improve their local area.

Despite the fact our communities would not be the same without them, their work often goes without recognition. These awards are about making sure they get the credit they deserve for making our communities brighter.

These are the people that make Fratton not just a place to live, but a place to call home

I urge everyone from Fratton, and the surrounding areas, to head down and get involved. Not every community has what Fratton has, we should celebrate what it has to offer.”

The Fratton Traders Association and Fratton Big Local have worked together tirelessly to bring music, performance, children’s activities and stalls to the south end of Fratton on Sunday 15th September 11.00am – 4.30pm

The event, which features no cars, lots of family fun and this year for the first time the presentation of the Inspiring Fratton Awards by Stephen Morgan MP to 11 local people, is set to be a highly successful event.

Ahead of the festivities, the city MP said:

“So many people just drive through Fratton, not realising the community spirit held in the ward. At the Festival they get a chance to stop and relax in the area.

From discovering the diversity of food available to seeing the many skilled barbers and hidden gems like the My Dog Sighs Mural in Cornwall road – the event offers a first-rate experience in Fratton.

Fratton is strengthened by its diversity and the importance of bringing the community together cannot be underestimated.

I look forward to continuing to working with others in and around Fratton to help foster a sense of unity and pride in our area.”

Bob White Chair of Fratton Big Local said:

“The Fratton Family Festival is now a well-established part of the calendar and is a day for celebrating the life and diversity of the Fratton community.

I enjoy seeing the great cross section of ages, backgrounds and cultures mingling and enjoying the music and activities together. This year we are delighted to be presenting our first ever ‘Inspiring Fratton Awards’ to recognise those in our community who have contributed to our life together.”

Big Local is being delivered by Local Trust and a range of partners. The event seeks to bring together local talent, community members, residents and ambitious individuals with the view of making the community an even better place to live.

Big Local puts residents in 150 areas across England in the driving seat. Residents in each of these areas are provided with all the support they need to identify their priorities and plan how to invest £1 million over at least the next 10 years.

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Pick Portsmouth’s best boozer

City MP Stephen Morgan is asking Portsmouth people to nominate their best local pub for the Parliamentary Pub of the Year Awards.

The award focuses on celebrating pubs in the community and will give 650 Members of Parliament the opportunity to nominate a pub to be recognised as the Parliamentary Pub of the Year.

The criteria for selecting your pub of choice is that they must be great at what they do. Whether this is pouring the perfect pint or serving up the best pub-grub and regularly hosting live music, the choice is yours.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Pubs are often at the hearts of our communities. By providing people with a place to meet and socialise they help to act as the glue keeping communities together.

We are fortunate in Portsmouth to have a thriving pub scene with an abundance of live music, top food and great beer.

I want to encourage as many people in Portsmouth to tell me their favourite local in my constituency so that we can commend the efforts of these vital community outlets.”

Research by CAMRA has found that pubs are continuing to struggle with 18 closing a week in Britain, according to the latest industry figures. We know that there were 476 closures in the first six months of the year, 13 more than in the last six months of 2017.

The Shadow Minister, who has a policy responsibility on community pubs added:

“Our British pubs sector supports 900,000 jobs, generates £23 billion in economic value and provides £13 billion in tax revenues. In addition, 30 million of us visit the pub every month. I even host some of my constituency meetings in them.

I believe that these vital economic and social outlets must be protected.

That is why I am proud to have stood on a manifesto that committed to set up an analysis for how best to support of local pubs to examine the causes for their decline, as well as establishing a joint taskforce that will consider their future sustainability. I also have worked hard to give communities more power to shape their town centres, including by strengthening powers to protect pubs.

If you want to help protect our locals and commend the publicans that make our pubs so successful, please get in touch.”

Before selecting the nomination for Portsmouth South, Mr Morgan is encouraging pub goers to nominate their favourite local in the city online. The deadline for doing so is 22 September.

To nominate your favourite Portsmouth pub please follow the link.

http://www.portsmouthlabourparty.org.uk/parliamentary-pub-of-the-year/