Closure of the parcel pick up service

The popular parcel pickup service on Slindon Street has been closed by the Royal Mail. This is a major blow to residents who rely on the service for key deliveries, especially at Christmas.
Portsmouth Labour Leader  Councillor Stephen Morgan expressed his disappointment with the decision:
“The Royal Mail’s delivery office on Slindon Street is a hugely popular and accessible service. I use the service regularly and residents have already raised their concerns with me about its loss.
With these changes to the postal service we see, yet again, the needs of the people in our city are taking second place.
We won the argument with the police and crime commissioner to safeguard a presence in the city centre, and now I want to work with the Post Office to see how the concerns of local people can be addressed”.
Portsmouth Labour will be working hard to protect the future of our postal service and campaigning to ensure the changes made do not have a negative impact on residents across our great city.


Why accessible mental health care matters

In recent years, Portsmouth has seen a sharp increase in the number of residents with mental health issues. Cuts to vital public services affect people on low incomes far more than those with a healthy household bank balance.
This can add stress and strain to lives that are already difficult. So it is a great shame to see Portsmouth Counselling Service (PCS) facing closure.
PCS has provided affordable counselling in Portsmouth since 1993. Professional counsellors volunteer their time, with administrative costs covered by council grants. 57% of its clients have an annual household income of less than £9,000.
In 2015 alone, PCS gave over 5,000 counselling sessions to almost 700 people including victims of crime and domestic violence, and those suffering with substance misuse issues, anxiety and depression.
PCS is due to shut its doors for the last time two days before Christmas. Its funding has been withdrawn. This follows a review of mental health care commissioning begun by the council when led by the Liberal Democrats. I believe it is a classic example of prioritising short-term gain at a long term cost.
As local councillor for Charles Dickens ward serving the heart of Portsmouth, I know how important it is to offer accessible mental health care to people on low incomes. And that is why I raised concerns about the closure of PCS at Full Council earlier this month.
After PCS closes, the choice is stark: pay £45 an hour for private counselling, or access the excellent Talking Change Service, run by NHS Portsmouth CCG. Sadly, Talking Change cannot provide more than six counselling sessions for most conditions.
So people in need of long-term help will turn in desperation to Portsmouth’s GPs and, in more severe cases, Accident and Emergency Units, none of which can provide the help they so badly need.
This will come at a cost to our publicly funded services, and to our families and communities.
The bitter irony is that the hourly cost to run PCS is less than half that of the alternative. Portsmouth Labour and I will continue to stand up for our city by lobbying for the preservation of this and similar vital services.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Leader, Portsmouth Labour

Traffic problems reported in Portsea 

Residents in Portsea have raised their increasing concerns with their local ward councillor, Stephen Morgan over congestion and traffic flow on local streets this week. 
The level of traffic being funnelled through Queen Street/Angelsea Road junction and Unicorn/Market Way junction is currently saturating the network, leading to severe delays for both public transport and general traffic on Hope Street/Market Way and Queen Street/The Hard, and within the Naval Base.
Cllr Morgan has urgently written to the council to investigate this matter and ensure action is taken. 
In response senior officers in the traffic management team have said:
“There has been severe congestion on the road network and within the Dockyard as a result of revised traffic arrangements while important works are conducted in the Naval Base in preparation for the QEC carriers.  

This situation is being exacerbated by half term, and a rail replacement service for all rail services to and from Southampton (lasting until the 30th October)”.
Cllr Morgan said:
“I understand that extensive work is ongoing between the City Council, the Naval Base and BAE Systems to manage the impact as far as possible. 
A further meeting is scheduled for this evening between officers, BAE, and the Royal Navy where they hope to agree a way forward”.

Meanwhile, the council are continuing to manually override the traffic signals to manage the flows as best they can, and balance the competing flows on the network.
Changes have also been made to the Park and Ride service to reduce the delays experienced by passengers.
Cllr Morgan added:
“I welcome these efforts by the city council and hope they improve the situation we are seeing and address our local concerns”.


Have your say on the future of the council’s budget

Portsmouth City Council is facing cuts to the money the city gets from the government. The city council’s administration is planning to make £24m of budget savings over the three years from April 2017.
At the same time, an ageing and growing population is increasing demand for social care services, which is pushing costs up.
Portsmouth Labour has called on the Leader of the Council to lobby central government to protect vital central funding to provide services in the city – in what is known as the ‘revenue support grant’.
The council is currently asking residents and local groups to have their say on forthcoming budget proposals. 
To contribute to the consultation you can complete the survey online, or phone 023 9243 7996 to request a paper copy by post.
Cllr Stephen Morgan said:
“I am very concerned about the prospect of further cuts to essential local services in Portsmouth.
The Labour Group will be keeping a very close eye on what is proposed, will try to fight these and find ways to protect services we all depend on.
It is hugely important for residents, local groups and businesses to have their say on what the administration is proposing for the budget next year.
Please make sure you complete the survey”.
The budget consultation closes on 31 October 2016.

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Central Police Station to go under plans by police commissioner

The new Police and Crime Commissioner has announced that he has secured a site on Portsea Island for a new police investigation centre, off the Eastern Road.
Earlier this year Portsmouth Labour campaigned to stop proposals which may have seen the new police centre being built outside of the city, over in Havant. Thanks to lobbying that option was ruled out, a u-turn made, and a home found in Portsmouth.
However, concerns remain over the need for a city centre presence in Portsmouth at a time when crime is increasing in the city.
The investigation centre has been beset by problems, having been due to be in place this spring.
When the base is up and running from spring 2019 it will force the Constabulary to sale Fratton, Portsmouth Central, Havant and Fareham stations.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Leader of the Portsmouth Labour Group said:img_0090
“The forced closure of the Central Police Station will be a huge loss to the city as it’s in such a central location in the heart of Portsmouth. I remain very concerned by these proposals.

The commissioner must now deliver on the idea to have an open to the public front desk service for residents to report crime face-to-face. This must be in the city centre.
 I hope plans are made public so all residents and local groups can see what the changes will mean, and most importantly, be assured proposals will protect essential local police services.”

Victorious' future secure in Pompey

Victorious Festival’s future in the city was secured today following a decision by the city council.  
The council agreed to start discussions with event organisers for the festival to continue in Portsmouth for at least another five years.
Following the decision on Monday morning organisers will be allowed to stage Victorious in Southsea until at least 2025 after their current deal up until 2020 expires.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Labour’s culture, leisure and sport spokesperson said:
“I’m a fan of Victorious and what it does for Portsmouth. It creates excitement and a real buzz in the city we all want to see.

Not only does it bring economic benefits to Portsmouth estimated at £5.8m, it also has real social value helping local voluntary groups to succeed and community projects to flourish.

With assurance that organisers and officers involved take residents’ complaints seriously and take on board feedback to improve the event’s planning, I’m in full support of efforts by the administration to secure Victorious’ future in our great city”.

Does your group need funding?

Join Action Portsmouth on Tuesday 18 October 2016 if your voluntary or community group needs funding!
The invitation is open to any community group, organisation large or small, schools, churches and not-for-profit organisations to help them find out how to become more successful around funding and grants.
Grants start from a few hundred pounds to millions!
The event will be held at St Mary’s Church, Fratton this Tuesday from 10am. A free lunch is provided.
For more information visit www.facebook.com/ActionPortsmouth or email jacky.charman@actionhants.org.uk

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Labour raises concerns over future of local counselling service

The future of the Portsmouth Counselling Service (PCS) is in doubt following decisions by the city council and clinical commissioning group.
The PCS is one of the most valuable services provided by the voluntary sector in Portsmouth as it deals with some of the most vulnerable people in Portsmouth.
PCS is based at The Wesley Centre on Fratton Road and provides general and specialist counselling services.
Last month a joint meeting of the council and clinical commissioning group was held proposing funding be pulled because the PCS is “not part of the core business plan” and has forced the hand of the PCS in announcing its decision to close.
Cllr Stephen Morgan said:
“We have seen a sharp increase in the number of people with mental health issues in recent years. The work of PCS is therefore more needed than ever. Last year alone they carried out over 5,000 counselling sessions supporting over 600 local people.
Portsmouth Labour stands firmly alongside PCS and wants to preserve this valuable service and the fantastic work it does in our communities. This is another example of long term cost at a short-term gain”.
Portsmouth’s Labour Group raised concerns about the potential closure of the service at Full Council on Tuesday 11 October. Regrettably only a few minutes were given for the future of this important local service to be discussed.
The Labour Group will continue to lobby the council’s administration for the benefit of those who rely on this local service.
For more information about the work of PCS visit: www.pocounsellingservice.org.uk


Solent Deal a "stepping stone to something better"

At Full Council on Tuesday 11 October, Cllr Stephen Morgan, the Labour Group’s new leader, set out the case in favour of the Solent Deal:
“These significant proposals give our councils a route to financial stability with the early return of the whole of business rates to the city.
£30 million per year for 30 years – which if capitalized – will release further funding for investment in infrastructure.
For Pompey people this means:

  • much needed new social and affordable homes
  • better public transport
  • creation of new jobs and investment in our local economy.

Proposals also give us as a city more control.
Control over bus transportation using the provisions of the ‘Bus Act’ – only available to combined authorities.
Control over the design of adult skills service and full devolution of the budget – to upskill communities in a changing world.
And it gives us the opportunity to bid for powers and resources around local control of other budgets and functions such as probation and health services.
Whilst we have had concerns over the process and public consultation, and we think this ought to be a full council decision, we believe this opportunity for the people of Portsmouth is not one to be missed.
It is a stepping stone for something better and allows for greater collaboration with our neighbours to enable economic growth and create new jobs.
Devolution is crucial to giving us the space, resources and powers needed to get things done.
It is a pathway to investment in city infrastructure and to help bring politics closer to the people of Portsmouth.
These proposals before tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting have Labour’s support”.


Call for a new pedestrian crossing in Landport gains backing of councillor

Residents campaigning for a pedestrian crossing to be installed on Lake Road in Landport have received the backing of their ward councillor, Cllr Stephen Morgan.
Concerns have been raised by local people about the safety of pedestrians crossing near the busy junction at the top of Commercial Road.
For a long time residents have been worried about using the underpath by the roundabout at the top of town, preferring a better way to get across a busy road in the heart of Portsmouth.
A petition set up by local resident Audrey Arnell of Buckland has received over 750 signatories so far, and support is growing.


Local resident Audrey with Cllr Stephen Morgan

Audrey said:
“Everyone I have spoken to is in favour of closing the subway and installing a crossing for local people and shoppers too.
I’m pleased Cllr Morgan is backing this important resident-led campaign”.
Cllr Morgan said:
“I’ve been calling on the council to do more to improve transport infrastructure in the city centre.
This must include making it easier and safer for residents to cross the busy roads at the top of Commercial Road.
I am delighted to be supporting Audrey’s campaign and urge everyone to sign the petition so we can encourage the council to look into this proposal and take action”.
You can now sign the petition for a new crossing on Lake Road by clicking here