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Newly appointed Shadow Minister for Communities pays thanks to all council officers

Stephen Morgan MP, who was appointed to a Shadow Ministerial position within the Communities and Local Government team earlier this week, has made his agenda clear by sending an open letter to all council officers.

The letter expressed gratitude to the local authority workers, explicitly thanking them for their often-unrecognised services to the nation.

Mr Morgan said:

“Council workers are the unsung heroes who keep our communities safe.

From making sure the food we eat in restaurants is acceptable to keeping our neighbourhoods clean and maintained – their often-invisible work is the lifeblood of our nation.

I wanted to ensure that in my first move as Shadow Minister, I send out a clear message that their vital work is appreciated.”

Mr Morgan, who prior to becoming an MP spent 15 years working in local Government, cited his experience in play and leisure, community involvement, strategy and performance and other departments as his motivation for sending out the letter.

The Portsmouth South MP said:

“When I was first elected, I asked a council manager what advice he could give. His answer was plain and simple. Take notice of the vital work conducted by council officers.

With less money, less resources and more responsibility, councils across our great nation continue to deliver the much-needed services, day in, day out from cradle to grave.

Without this vital cohesive element, our communities would fall apart. It is an understatement to say that they are the glue that holds society together.”

Mr Morgan’s first act as Shadow Minister is an indication of where his priorities lie and demonstrates his commitment to ensuring that recognition is given to those who work at local authority level. While the letter expressed gratitude, it also included pledges upheld by his party.

Mr Morgan pledged:

“From Portsmouth to Penrith, up and down our country, council officers keep our communities running.

In this new role, I will work hard to give more money, more power and more support to councils across the country. “

Mr Morgan joins the Communities and Local Government team headed by Shadow Secretary Andrew Gwynne MP where he will work alongside Shadow Minister for Devolution and Finance, Jim McMahon and Shadow Minister for Planning Roberta Blackman-Woods.

 

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City MP calls for ambition in wake of Portsmouth’s failed Future High Streets bid

News has broken that Portsmouth’s bid for £50 million as part of the Government’s future High Streets Fund has failed.

The fund, designed to support local areas’ plans to make their high streets and town centres fit for the future, would have been welcome as the city has faced major high street closures in recent times.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

 “I have long argued that the Government needs to do better, and the council do more, to bring our city’s high streets back from the brink.

Only this weekend we saw Knight & Lee and Portsmouth say good bye, with Debenhams set to go next and other stores in our city under threat.

We need a bold and ambitious plan to revitalise our city’s shopping centres, which is why Portsmouth Labour submitted positive budget proposals to get to the heart of the problem. Sadly, the Tories and Lib Dems voted it down, and continue to neglect our communities.

Raising the issue directly with the Prime Minister, hosting a roundtable with businesses to find solutions, calling for business rate reform, submitting parliamentary questions and writing to the Council Leader, I will continue to put pressure on the Government to invest and the Council to show leadership, to sort this pressing issue for Portsmouth once and for all”.

Portsmouth’s high streets have faced trying times, losing a number of major retail pillars and leaving the flourishing independent shopping scene vulnerable now that there is less footfall.

The Portsmouth MP has backed Labour’s five-point plan to reinvigorate the high street, including a major overhaul of the current business rates system.

Mr Morgan said:

“A major contributing factor to the decline of the high streets is the outdated and broken business rates system, we need to bring the current system into the 21st century.

That is why I proudly support Labour’s 5-point plan which would see a major overhaul and an end to retailers being hit unfair and unsustainable fees.”

Labours 5-point plan also includes free bus travel for all under 25s, free WIFI in city centres, an end to ATM charges and would establish a register of landlords of empty shops in each local authority.