Police tackle local drugs concerns

Charles Dickens ward’s police team have seized cannabis plants in a warrant in the city centre over the weekend.
Plants were seized by officers from the Charles Dickens and St Jude’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs) along with the force support unit, in an operation on Charlotte Street in the heart of Portsmouth on Friday.
A significant number of cannabis plants and equipment were located and seized.
Sergeant Richard Holland said:
“This was a very successful operation; the seizure of these plants will be a significant loss to the dealer.
This action sends a clear message to the public and demonstrates the NPTs commitment to combating the drugs issue in Portsmouth.”
Cllr Stephen Morgan, ward councillor for Charles Dickens welcomes the local police’s actions.
He said:
“Residents have told me drug dealing is an issue in our communities. Last week I went out on night patrol across the city centre to see firsthand the actions the police take to keep our communities safe.
This warrant was executed as part of the local team’s ongoing commitment to tackle drug dealing on our streets. I am grateful to the neighbourhood team for taking our concerns seriously and for taking this action”.
Sgt Holland added: 
“I am pleased that Cllr Morgan was able to accompany officers on patrol, to see first-hand the hard work that goes into protecting the most vulnerable people in our community.
It was also a good opportunity to highlight our ongoing proactive operations, such as targeting drug dealers and their associated violence in the city”.

Protecting Portsmouth's culture 

Portsmouth council has confirmed funding for local cultural organisations for the coming year at a decision making meeting this week. 
The city council will be allocating over £197,000 in 2017/18 to a range of local charities or groups including the Kings Theatre, New Theatre Royal, Aspex Visual Arts Trust and the City of Portsmouth Preserved Transport.
Money will be used for cultural bodies to run local programmes, provide activities and support running costs.
Speaking in support of the decision, Cllr Stephen Morgan, Labour’s culture, leisure and sport spokesperson said:
“Cultural organisations contribute hugely to the city’s offer, helping to make Portsmouth a great place to live, work and visit. 
By giving grants to support the core business of these organisations, the council is helping groups lever in much bigger funding from elsewhere, such as the heritage lottery or Arts Council.
These grants must be protected so Portsmouth’s rich cultural opportunities can be for the many, not the few”.
All grants are subject to an agreement with the council. A range of monitoring arrangements are put in place to ensure funding achieves agreed outcomes and secures value for money.  


Portsmouth Labour slams government over ‘scandal’ of rising homelessness

Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, has criticised the Government after new homelessness statistics showed that 37 people slept rough on the streets in Portsmouth on one night in 2016, up from 5 in 2010.
The official figures show that across England homelessness has more than doubled since 2010, and risen by 50% in the last two years alone. This means that street homelessness has risen every year under the Conservatives.
Under the Labour government from 1997-2010, rough sleeping fell by three-quarters and the number of households accepted as homeless by councils across England fell by almost two-thirds.
The new rough sleeping statistics come as ministers are under increasing pressure to publish their delayed housing white paper – a housing policy relaunch after seven years of failure on housing on all fronts.
Labour has warned that homelessness will not be significantly reduced unless the causes of rising homelessness in the last seven years are tackled. The Party has set out how Conservative cuts and decisions since 2010 have led directly to higher homelessness:

  • cuts to housing benefit support worth over £5bn since 2010 – thirteen separate cuts to housing benefit over the last five years, including the bedroom tax and breaking the link between housing benefit for private renters (local housing allowance) and private rents;
  • cuts to ‘supporting people’ which funds homelessness services – the National Audit Office have revealed that this vital funding fell by 45% between 2010 and 2015;
  • soaring private rents – averaging more than £2000 extra each year than at the same point 2010; and;
  • the loss of affordable homes – with over 140,000 fewer council homes than in 2010, and the number of new government funded homes for started for social rent falling from nearly 40,000 in 2009/10 to less than 1,000 last year.

Cllr Stephen Morgan said:
“Labour is calling on the Government to get to grips with the scandal of rising homelessness across the country. 
“Here in Portsmouth we’re involved in a task group to tackle the issues the city faces.
“With such a significant increase in the number of people sleeping rough, homelessness must become everyone’s business.”
Last weekend Cllr Morgan went out on night patrol across the city centre with the police in order to talk with people sleeping rough on the city’s streets and understand local homeless issues.
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey MP said:
“The scale of rising homelessness should shame us all. The number of people sleeping on the streets fell under Labour but has doubled with Conservative Ministers in charge.
These figures are a terrible reminder of the consequences of Conservative Ministers’ seven years of failure on housing.
The Government’s long-promised housing white paper will fall at the first hurdle if it does not set out how they will end the national disgrace of rough sleeping, as Labour has committed to do.”

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Councillor joins police night patrol to share residents’ concerns

Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, went out on patrol with the police team covering his ward on Saturday (21 January).
Earlier this month Cllr Morgan confirmed that crime and safety would be a key priority for him this year after residents and community groups have raised their concerns about local issues in the city.
The night shift started with Sergeant Richard Holland in charge of the police team covering the Charles Dickens beat. This included a briefing on recent initiatives by the police and information on how the safer neighbourhood team engage the community, local groups and businesses.
img_7675Then it was out and about on patrol in one of the busiest areas to police in the whole of Hampshire. The team’s patch includes Portsea, Landport, the city council and parts of Fratton, Buckland and Somerstown. With a high student population in the ward, a range of housing estates, Commercial Road shopping area and the night time economy of Guildhall Walk, there is lots for the police to be doing as they are dispersed around the beat.
Cllr Morgan went out in a police car and on foot with a police officer meeting up with the team of PCSOs and other police officers at sites across the beat area. This included home visits, trips along Guildhall Walk and Commercial Road and stopping by to talk with local people.
The night patrol includes visiting vulnerable people in their own home, talking to people who are sleeping rough on our streets, and helping out when there’s incidents in Guildhall Walk.
During the cold night, someone is arrested by the team for being in possession of drugs, a house party told to keep the noise down and someone caught stealing a bike. The police officer also helps report a paint can spillage on the highway.
Cllr Morgan said:
“I was particularly keen to learn more about Operation Build aiming to tackle issues around drug dealing in our city. This initiative is a partnership which concentrates on protecting vulnerable people and addresses from drug-dealers visiting the city and associated violence.
I was impressed with the results being achieved from this approach and was grateful to see officers work on this initiative first hand. The police are tough on offenders as I saw from the arrest tonight”.
Local people have been encouraged by Cllr Morgan to help set policing priorities for the area by filling in an online survey.
The Charles Dickens Safer Neighbourhood Team are currently asking residents to have their say. The survey can be completed by visiting: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/dickenscharles
“It is important everyone has their say on local policing priorities for our area. By doing so, the police can target their resources on the concerns that matter to us”.
After a long night shift finishing back at 2am at the Central Police Station on Winston Churchill Avenue in freezing temperatures, Cllr Morgan was impressed with the police’s work.
He added:
“The police do a tremendous job keeping our communities safe, day in, day out. I respect the tough job they do. But they can only do their job with the help and confidence of residents. It was great to see officers interact with members of the public bringing reassurance to local people.
With limited resources they are making a difference in our great city and supporting the most vulnerable. Tonight was a great way to recognise and thank the team for everything they do. I hope to join them out on patrol again soon”.

Lets turn Brexit into an opportunity

This morning the Prime Minister, Theresa May made a speech on the government’s priorities for Brexit.

In a statement issued today, Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth Labour Leader, responds to the speech on what Brexit should mean for the city’s communities.

Cllr Morgan says: 

“Portsmouth decided to vote leave and Labour stands by that decision. What is important to me is that we turn Brexit into an opportunity for our great city.  

Whatever deal the government decides to pursue, we need to ensure that local businesses succeed.

We need to attract new investment and we need to create much-needed new well-paid jobs for local people.  

I’m proud of what Portsmouth achieves. Labour will always back Pompey and its people. We know that together we can make a success of Brexit.”

Portsmouth Labour join calls for action on NHS crisis

More and more voices are speaking up over concerns about the crisis in the NHS, as patients are waiting longer on lists, on trolleys, in emergency departments and in their homes for the care they need.
The Royal College of Physicians have written to the Prime Minister explaining that multiple services are “struggling or failing to cope”.  Even Conservative MPs have stated that Theresa May is “scapegoating” GPs and “failing to take responsibility”.
The Labour party has demanded more funding for the NHS. 
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader said:
“Extended opening hours at GP practices won’t solve the crisis we are seeing in our health service. As the Royal College of Physicians have said, our health service is underfunded, under doctored and overstretched. Around 3.9 million people are on waiting lists. 1.8 million people are waiting four hours or more in A&E. 
In our great city, health and care staff do incredible things. They do extraordinary work and provide selfless dedication daily. It’s time the NHS and its staff are given the support they need”.
Last year Cllr Morgan raised concerns over the closure of the popular Guildhall Walk-In centre and led a petition signed by over a thousand local people to keep the services in the heart of the city.
He said: “Like others, I am very concerned by the pressure the closure last year places on already stretched services at QA”.  Today he added:
“It is now quite clear. Cost-saving measures such as the closure of a well-used facility – such as the walk-In centre – is not going to save our NHS. What is needed is more funding, more staff and more listening to people in close contact with the problems on the ground. Our NHS is at crisis point.”


Have your say on police priorities

Residents living in Charles Dickens ward are being asked to name their top policing priorities for action by the local Charles Dickens Neighbourhood Policing team. 
Police officers have created an online survey for residents, community groups and local businesses to have their say and asked Cllr Stephen Morgan to help promote the opportunity for residents to have their say.
Sergeant Richard Holland said:
“As a member of the Charles Dickens community, we are interested in what you have to say in how we police the area.
Whether you have been a victim/witness of crime or not, it is important that we have your views on how we can best meet the needs of everyone within the community”.
This brief survey has been designed for the sole purpose of identifying issues within the neighbourhood.
Spending a few minutes answering the questions will allow the police to gather the information they need to provide a better service and set policing priorities that matter to local people.
So if you live in the Charles Dickens ward then please go to the link below: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/dickenscharles
For residents without access to the internet, you can pop into the Portsmouth Central Police station where you can complete a hard copy there.

What's going on with Brunel House?

A number of residents have asked what’s been going on at Brunel House at The Hard. 
I’ve been following this up with the council on behalf of local people.
The Brunel House site in Portsea is land that the city council has been keen to see improved for a significant time.
A planning application was made some time ago and was submitted to the planning authority but was eventually refused planning permission.
More recently the owner has exercised his right to submit a ‘Prior Notification’ for the conversion of the building into dwellings.
Officers have confirmed that in recent weeks the owner has been stripping the property out in the period before Christmas but there is currently no further work planned.
Watch this space for updates.

Support to young people at risk of homelessness makes a big difference

This week Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth Labour Leader paid a visit to the Portsmouth Foyer on Greetham Street, to learn more about the work of staff and volunteers in providing a range of services and support networks to help young people who are homeless in Portsmouth turn their lives around.
Local charities offering a bed for the night is just the first step on the long road to helping somebody embark on a new life away from homelessness. Yet local groups provide much more than offering safe, secure accommodation.
Services include providing help and support every step of the way to ensure young people move towards finding a home of their own. Charities also work to prevent homelessness by supporting people who already live in their own home, to maintain their independence. This support can take many forms and often includes advice on how to contact specialist agencies.
Other services include:

  • advice on resources to housing
  • help with filling in forms and claiming benefits
  • help and advice with managing money and paying bills
  • overcoming problems
  • access to specialist services including medical advice or addictions counselling
  • connecting with local self help groups.

On Greetham Street in the heart of Portsmouth, Two Saints provide a 48 roomed hostel provides accommodation for young people between 16 and 25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Referrals are made to the service via Portsmouth City Council’s Housing Options team, and the service funded by the city council.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth Labour Leader said:
“These hugely important services provided by local charities and groups in our city help people take control over their lives and helps reduce demand on public services later on down the line.  Two Saints’ Portsmouth Foyer is a great example of this.
As well as providing a bed and a range of support networks, they encourage young people to develop their skills and self confidence to help set them back on the path back to a more settled life. These services make a big difference in Portsmouth.
It was great to visit the team this week and see the valuable work staff and volunteers do”. 


Priory School celebrates success 

Congratulations are being shared with pupils, their families and all staff at Priory for excellent news over its recent Ofsted inspection. 
Priory School on Fawcett Road serving the heart of our city has been rated as ‘good’ across all categories, up from the ‘requires improvement’ grade at its previous inspection in 2013.
The new grading comes after the school joined Bohunt Education Trust in 2014.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, former pupil and a governor at the school, said:
“This result is worthy of celebration and is testimony to the hard work and dedication of the whole school community. 
I was proud to go to Priory and I am proud of this latest Ofsted report. A fantastic result for a great Portsmouth school”.