Shadow Environment Secretary visits city to understand sea defence scheme

The Shadow Environment Secretary has today visited Stephen Morgan in Southsea to discuss the city’s Coastal Sea Defence project. The project, which is likely to cost over £100 million, is set to be the single largest local authority led defence scheme in the country.
The Labour MPs today met with the Chief Executive of Portsmouth City Council and a senior officer from the sea defence team as well as a representative from the Environment Agency.
This investment is integral to the security of 8,700 residential properties, 800 commercial building and millions of pounds worth of essential infrastructure and has been the subject of much community debate and consultation.
It is hoped the planned work would transform the seafront for future generations whilst also protecting the heritage that the people of Portsmouth are rightly proud of. It would stimulate regeneration which in turn would be to the benefit of businesses, residents and visitors.
The city MP has sent a series of invitations to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP, requesting that he visit the city himself to understand the proposed scheme and funding challenges. Regrettably, Mr. Gove has not taken up the offer.
The Eastern Coastal Sea Defence Project via Portsmouth City Council have developed prospective plans to improve the sea defences along Southsea and the North Portsea Island.
On the matter, Mr. Morgan has said:
The current defences we have are not sufficient. I want to ensure that the people of Portsmouth are safe from the threat of flooding. These proposals ensure that for the next 100 years. We need government help to make this a reality”
Shadow Environment Secretary, Sue Hayman understands the seriousness of the matter and has spent the day observing the proposals and meeting with senior stakeholders.
Mr. Morgan has stated:
It is of paramount importance that this funding is secured. Not just to defend against the threat of erosion and flooding but also to create a vibrant, thriving place for residents and visitors to enjoy.“
The meetings today were integral to raising awareness of the vital regeneration project by the council and will be useful in informing the government that this issue needs to be addressed.

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Portsmouth MP presses PM over city’s high street decline

Stephen Morgan MP today asked the Prime Minister at PMQs what her plan is to save high streets following the announcement that Knight & Lee is to close. Rather than provide assurances for Portsmouth, regrettably the PM dodged the question.

News landed that Knight & Lee was facing closure last week. This will be the first closure by John Lewis since 2006. The Portsmouth born MP realises the adverse effect that this closure could have on the community and has been making every effort to get assurances from all involved parties that the people of Portsmouth will be prioritised.

Upon hearing the news, Mr. Morgan wrote a letter to the Managing Director of John Lewis, expressing the need for them to confirm their commitment to Portsmouth. Once he heard that the store had already been sold, he contacted That Group who are the new owners, pressing for assurances that the building’s future would be in line with the needs of people in Portsmouth and urged them for a meeting.

Conversations have already taken place between the Portsmouth MP and the City Council Chief Executive, efforts will be made to continue talks as the situation progresses.

The MP has also asked John Lewis to consider improving ‘click and collect’ facilities in the city and to keep the jobs in Portsmouth.

Mr. Morgan wrote to Managing Director of John Lewis:

“Knight & Lee, first established in 1865, is a vital and well-loved asset in my constituency. It employs many hardworking people across the region who have given so much to assist you in building such a reputable brand in my city”

The consequences of the closure of Knight & Lee could be severe for our city’s shopping streets. 

127 people and their families rely on the business for work and many of the independent shops on Palmerston Road and the surrounding area benefit from the footfall generated by the business.

Mr. Morgan has said:

Southsea is famous for its vibrant, flourishing independent shops, many of which rely on the footfall generated by Knight & Lee. We must persevere and reach a solution that suits Southsea.”

In addition to writing to all the stakeholders, Mr. Morgan felt it necessary to ask the Prime Minister directly about what she will do to protect stores like Knight & Lee on our city’s high streets.

Today, during Prime Minister’s questions, Stephen Morgan MP asked Theresa May what she would do to help stores like Knight & Lee. His question raised the important wider issue of the decline in the high street and the effect that this is having on Portsmouth and the nation.

Mr. Morgan today asked the Prime Minister:

“Unlike this government, John Lewis has never Knowingly undersold Portsmouth. But last week partners announced they are closing Knight & Lee, a much-loved store in the heart of my community since 1865. And that’s just one example.

Retailer after retailer, store after store, job after job, when will the government finally bring our high streets back from the brink?”

Afterwards, Mr. Morgan told colleagues:

“My grandparents visited that Knight & Lee; my parents visited that Knight & Lee and I have used it frequently. It is a great shame that future generations will not get to do the same. I will ensure that I continue to work with other stakeholders to ensure that whatever comes next, is in the interests of the people of Portsmouth.”

Theresa May’s response did not address the wider issue of the struggles faced by the High Street and simply addressed the closure of the individual store.

The Prime Minister said that: “It’s a commercial decision for the company to take.”

This does nothing to address the wider issues that led to the closure of the store and the fact that her government has no new money set aside to support the success of the high street is indicative of their attitudes towards the problem.

Mr. Morgan said:

“The fact that this government is not even willing to invest any new money in saving the high street is highly worrying. Jobs and livelihoods are at stake.

That’s why we have a 5-point plan for supporting the High Street.”

Labour have set out a 5-point plan to combat the decline of the high street in an attempt avoid future scenarios like the closure of the much -cherished Knight & Lee. The plan includes; free travel for under 25s, a strategy for keeping bank branches open, free public Wi-Fi, a ban on ATM charges and significantly, a reassessment of business rates.

About Labour’s 5 point plan the Portsmouth MP said:

“We as a party are committed to saving our high streets. The 5-point plan put forward incentivises people to visit the high street, it’s a serious response to a serious issue. Importantly, it also is not revamped, recycled funds that will have no effect.”

Stephen Morgan MP has said he is committed to continuing to work with others to ensure that the new developments at the Knight & Lee site are in the interests of Portsmouth. He is currently waiting for a response from That Group where he requested a meeting and from John Lewis regarding the prospect of the opening of a ‘Click & Collect’.

The Portsmouth MP stated:

“This cannot be another nail in the coffin for Palmerston Road. Knight & Lee has been an anchor store for decades. Bringing people locally and further afield to our area, we musn’t let this business decision rip the heart of Southsea and effect the independent stores Southsea is famous for. I will continue to press ministers and the shadow team for action. We need action, and we need it fast”.






PM must now finally rule out no-deal

Responding to the votes in the House of Commons tonight, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“After two years of failed negotiations, the Prime Minister still has no credible plan to deliver a Brexit deal that can command the support of those who voted leave and remain, has the support of Parliament and protects jobs in Portsmouth and our city’s economy.

Tonight the House of Commons rejected no-deal which would be disastrous for Portsmouth and our nation. I am assured so many put party politics to one side, prioritised our country, and worked across the House to rule out a no-deal.

The Prime Minister has consistently said she supports democracy, so its high time she applies the same principle and respects the will of the House.

Preparations for no-deal are costing £170,000 per hour and would cost Portsmouth 1,300 jobs. The Brexit Secretary himself has said ‘no one wants it’, and tonight Parliament has spoken with one voice to rule it out. The Government must now do the same”.

Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Brexit Secretary said:

“Its one thing for backbenchers to lay an amendment at odds with the Prime Minister’s deal. It quite another for the Prime Minister to support it – unless of course she’d already got an indication from the EU that they could and would negotiate the necessary changes. But she hasn’t”.

The city MP also voted for an amendment that would have allowed democracy to take place and allowed for an alternative Brexit to be put on the table, one that protects jobs, living standards and workers rights through a strong single market deal and a comprehensive customs union.

The same amendment also allowed for the option of a public vote on a deal, a notion that polls suggest 70% of Portsmouth South residents support.

Mr Morgan added:

“Theresa May is continuing to push the narrative of her deal or no-deal, attempting to force the public into accepting a substandard and uncertain deal as the lesser of two evils – both of which would make our city and our country poorer.

The people of Portsmouth and this nation deserve to be presented with better options than what this Government is currently offering.

I will always put Portsmouth first. This means that today I voted for amendments that would allow us to renegotiate a deal that would be supported by Parliament and leaves the option for a people’s say on the table”.



Government must listen to HMRC staff over tax office closures

Today the Government made a statement in the House of Commons about its proposed closures of HMRC tax offices across the country.

City MP Stephen Morgan has been working alongside Shadow Treasury Minister Anneliese Dodds MP to fight the closures and understand the impact on people in Portsmouth. Lynx House in Cosham employs hundreds of people in the area and has a vital role in the city’s economy.

The Portsmouth South MP raised concerns with Minsters in the House today, asking why the government isn’t listening to 79% of HMRC staff surveyed who believe closures will undermine the department’s ability to provide tax collection.

Responding to the Minister’s announcement, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“HMRC has 2,000 fewer staff today than it did on the day of the EU referendum. It is highly problematic that this government has been dramatically cutting HMRC staff levels, yet it expects it to have a “strong stance” on tax avoidance and evasion.

I saw these effects first hand in September when the Shadow Financial Secretary, Anneliese Dodd’s and I visited Portsmouth HMRC Office Lynx House. It was made clear on our visit that the claims by this government that closures were due to the ‘modernisation’ of HMRC were nothing more than an attempt to disguise widespread cuts to the department.

Lynx House employs many hardworking people in my city and across the region, I will not allow this government to heavily undermine their ability to function, with 79% of staff surveyed saying that the proposed plans would undermine their ability to provide tax collection. I trust the judgement of those who work within the department over that of the government”.

With the uncertainty perpetuated by this government’s stance on Brexit and their refusal to rule out ‘No Deal;’, more so than ever, it is essential that HMRC is properly staffed and funded.

The city MP added:

“The Public Accounts Committee that I sit on has explained that HMRC will face tough decisions when it comes to resource allocation, boosting tax revenue tackling tax evasion and implementing the transformation programme.

I fail to see how the government thinks that this is an acceptable time to make cuts to the department”.



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Charities join forces to improve opportunities for city’s young people

A number of youth development charities in Portsmouth have come together to discuss how they can collectively improve services for young people in the city.

At a meeting hosted by Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, charities and those who work with young people in Portsmouth discussed the current support services available for young people, and also where the city falls short. 

Topics of discussion included the challenges charities are facing and how closer collaboration between organisations could help young people in the city navigate the challenges of adolescence and unlock their full potential.

In the past year, Mr Morgan has been heavily involved in supporting youth development locally, visiting city groups and schools, inviting young people to Parliament and hosting a number of events for different organisations including The Girls Network and Leonard Cheshire.

 Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It was really helpful to have a much-needed discussion today about youth development services in the city and how best we can all work together.

“The common goal of everyone in the room was to see young people in Portsmouth reaching their full potential no matter what their background is, and to provide the best support possible to as many young people as possible.

“I’d like to thank everyone who came along today and to everyone who works so hard to help young people across our great city.”


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City MP becomes patron of Royal Marines Museum campaign

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP announced as a patron of the campaign to help relocate invaluable Royal Marines Museum 

The museum was previously located in Eastney. Several reasons have made a move essential. Primarily, the safety of the invaluable collection is being threatened by the building’s disrepair. The geographical location of the Eastney site also makes it difficult to reach and the inadaptability of the building has been hindering the museum’s prospects of growth and the customer experience. At the moment, the world-renowned collection remains in storage.

On the matter Mr. Morgan said:

“Right now, the collection is hidden away. It is a huge injustice that the public doesn’t have access to artefacts that tell the story of one of the military’s finest Corps.”

Following the closure in Eastney last year, proposals were put forward for the site to move to Portsmouth in 2020. However, these hopes were dashed when the Heritage Lottery Fund grant of nearly £13 million was denied. Stephen Morgan MP and the Royal Marines Museum campaign have refused to give up this battle and are determined to raise the funds needed.

The MP has said:

“Since the Royal Marines creation in 1664 they have been involved in some of the country’s most significant battles, without them, many of us wouldn’t be here today. The least we can do is ensure that their story is heard.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund had previously awarded funding in 2016 and has already offered vital support to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The organisation has been a victim of an uncertain funding landscape and it is unfortunate that this has affected the Royal Marines Museum. This has done nothing to deter Mr. Morgan and the Royal Marines Museum campaign. They remain confident in their ability to secure the funding needed, but only if people are able to get behind the campaign.

Mr. Morgan added:

“The project has already raised £3 million, I have been told by the campaigners that the sale of Eastney will generate £2 million more. Now we need another £5 million.

It falls on the shoulders of those who share our passion for the armed forces to help make this move a reality.”

Mr. Morgan has stressed the importance of raising the funds as quickly as possible so that the public do not further lose out on this opportunity to learn about and experience the history of the Royal Marines.




Police cuts have consequences for Portsmouth

In recent years, police numbers have fallen and crime has risen by 10%, whilst the Government has slashed our Hampshire Constabulary’s budget by £70m.

Forcing our dedicated police officers to do more for less just isn’t working. That’s why in the House of Commons this week I pressed the Minister for Policing again on proper funding and to share our concerns from Portsmouth.

Yet what do we hear today? The number of police officers in Hampshire has fallen again with official government figures reporting we now have 1,007 fewer officers since 2010, and a staggering 21,339 fewer in England in Wales in total.

As someone who regularly spends time out and about on our city’s streets with frontline police, and meeting with senior officers, I know our local force are doing all they can to provide the best possible service to the public under very challenging circumstances.

The consequences of cuts are increasingly evident in our communities. As I shared with the Minister this week, just 4% of sexual offences now result in a charge and just 14% of robberies. 

And its not just frontline police in our city telling me that. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services has recently published a report sharing examples of the effects of the Government’s austerity measures and recognition that the police are unable to do all they want to because of the reduction in officers and resources.

We can’t allow this Government to keep forgetting Portsmouth’s communities nor allow our hard-working police officers and staff to work under this continued pressure.

But sadly recent funding announcements by Ministers are mere sticking plasters, pushing the cost to local taxpayers. As the Police Federation have said themselves, these Government plans merely make the public pay more for policing and is ‘blatantly unfair’.

Our city’s communities deserve better – and the police want to deliver. In order to do that, we need centrally-allocated investment from Government, rather than a quick funding fix, to pull our police force back from the brink.

I will keep standing up for Portsmouth locally and in Westminster until our police finally get the resources they need to keep our city’s communities safe.



Airbus speaks out on Brexit

Airbus, which has more than 14,000 employees across the UK including in Portsmouth, has spoken out on the Government’s Brexit plans today.

The strongly worded statement by Tom Enders, the Chief Executive Officer at Airbus, has called on Ministers to “not listen to the Brexiteer’s madness”.

City MP Stephen Morgan has been working with Airbus in the city, listening to the company’s concerns and fighting for a ‘sector deal’ to keep these vital jobs provided by the company in Portsmouth.

The announcement comes at a time that analyse shows the effects of a no-deal Brexit and calls across political parties for Theresa May to rule it out.

Preparations for ‘no deal’ are costing £170,000 per hour and could be easily avoided if the Government were to take this option off the table.

Airbus’ comments clarify what Mr Morgan has previously said that ‘no deal’ would be disastrous for Portsmouth.

Tom Enders, Chief Executive Officer, Airbus has stated:

“The UK’s aerospace sector now stands at the precipice. Brexit is threatening to destroy a century of development based on education, research and human capital. If there is a no-deal Brexit, we at Airbus will have to make potentially very harmful decisions for the UK.

Please don’t listen to the Brexiteers’ madness which asserts that, because we have huge plants here, we will not move, and we will always be here. They are wrong.

In a global economy, the UK no longer as the capability to go it alone. Major aerospace projects are multi-national affairs.

It is a disgrace that more than two years after the result of the 2016 referendum, businesses are still unable to plan properly for the future. And we, along with many of our peers, have repeatedly called for clarity.

But, we still have no idea what is going on here.”

In response to Airbus’ statement, Stephen Morgan MP has stated:

“I welcome Tom Enders’ strong words on the future of Airbus in cities like mine. I have been lobbying the Government for a sector deal for some time, and comments like this from Airbus should hit home the importance of ruling out a ‘no deal’.

When I visited the site with the Shadow Brexit Secretary, we saw the valuable work that they do and the employment opportunities they offer. We cannot jeopardise this.

We must avoid a no-deal Brexit at all costs. When I met with local businesses, we discussed how a ‘no deal’ scenario would cost people jobs, damage the economy and drive businesses from our shores.

I met with the Prime Minister earlier this month to raise these concerns, her refusal to take ‘no-deal’ off the table is a testament to this government’s inability to steer us through these negotiations.

We cannot allow for the narrative of Mrs. May’s deal or ‘no deal’. Too much is at stake, we cannot risk the prosperity of Portsmouth.”

Labour has set out two credible options to break the Brexit impasse and prevent no-deal: negotiating an alternative Brexit deal that delivers a close economic relationship with the EU in order to protect jobs, living standards and workers’ rights; and; legislating to hold a public vote on the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.

Recently, the Portsmouth South MP has been working with Airbus to lobby the government to develop clear proposals for future interaction with EU space programmes.

This is particularly essential as the Europe’s flagship Earth Observation Programme, Copernicus is at stake. If the UK were excluded from the Copernicus programme this would be disastrous for the nations space sector.



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We cannot allow Knight & Lee’s closure to rip the heart out of Southsea

This morning, discussions have taken place between the Portsmouth MP, Stephen Morgan and the Managing Director’s team at John Lewis and Partners, about the closure of the much-loved Southsea store Knight & Lee.

The action follows constituents raising concerns last night and the city MP writing to the Managing Director, Paula Nickolds late last night.

Despite requests for other options to be considered to keep the store in Portsmouth, Mr. Morgan was informed that nothing could be done to save Knight & Lee because the building had already been sold, and is the only planned store in the company’s estate to shut.

Seeking assurances about local jobs, the Portsmouth MP was informed that 127 partners are currently employed on the site in both a part-time and full-time capacity and attempts would be made to redeploy partners who wish to stay on with the company. The staff at Knight & Lee were informed today at a staff meeting about the stores closure, likely to occur in July 2019.

Last night the Member of Parliament took action, writing to the company saying:

“Knight & Lee is a vital and well-loved asset in my constituency. It employs many hardworking people across the region who have given so much to assist you in building such a reputable brand in my city.

High streets in Portsmouth and indeed across our country are struggling. What is so special about Southsea is its vibrant independent businesses that flourish along Palmerston Road and other local high streets.

John Lewis is much cherished and causes a significant customer footfall which has a beneficial impact on the surrounding businesses and our local economy.”

Following the letter this morning, Stephen Morgan MP has spoken to the city council chief executive and directly to John Lewis’ head office where the decision was confirmed.

Mr. Morgan stated that:

“My number one priority for Portsmouth will always be local jobs and our city’s economy, that’s why it is vital that we keep jobs in Portsmouth and failing that have the opportunity for redeployment elsewhere. I am disappointed by this business decision. The company confirmed they have measures in place to support hardworking staff.“

The MP has added: “Our city’s high streets are struggling. This cannot be another nail in the coffin for Palmerston Road. Knight & Lee has been an anchor store for decades. Bringing people locally and further afield to our area, we musn’t let this business decision rip the heart of Southsea and affect the independent stores and vibrancy Southsea is famous for”.

Last year Mr. Morgan launched a ‘Support Local’ initiative to shine a spotlight on the city’s small businesses and to encourage local trading and shopping. Research tells us that for every £1 spent in the local economy, 63p is reinvested in the community.

Mr. Morgan was informed that Knight & Lee site has already been sold to a developer that has an interest in hotel, office and leisure facilities. He has requested further information about the development to seek clarity on their proposals.

“I have requested information about the new owners of the site and will be contacting them to make sure they take on board the community views. Its important they hear from the people of Portsmouth our strength of feeling about the decline of our high streets following today’s devastating news for Southsea”.



City MP meets Aquind in Parliament over Portsmouth plans

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, has met with AQUIND in the House of Commons to share resident feedback over the proposed link between British and French electric grids affecting the city and Portsmouth people.

Commenting after the meeting the city MP said:

“I have met a number of constituents on their door steps who have shared their concerns regarding AQUIND, who are planning works in Portsmouth. Today, I met with their senior bosses to discuss how their developments will affect the people of Portsmouth.

AQUIND are an organisation seeking to build an electric power transmission link between the south of England and Normandy. The reason they are doing this is for energy and cost efficiency and the government has declared that this is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).

One of my main concerns is how this will affect people in Portsmouth. They have informed me that in order for the cables to be fitted, two trenches will be dug on each side of the road, the cables will  then be lowered into the ground. AQUIND informed me that the estimated time for the completion of the project is two weeks per section of road, meaning that the project would take approximately 18 months in total.

The works will predominantly be carried out in Milton and Eastney. It was stated that they would not be digging underneath or in the direct vicinity of people’s houses but rather under sections of the road. They informed me that roads could be potentially closed and that interruption to some degree was likely.

I have set up a strong communication link with their senior members of staff and they have assured me that they will answer any and all questions that constituents ask. There will be a number of engagement events in February,  where local people will have the opportunity to discuss their concerns with the company.

If anyone has any questions relating to this matter, or would like me to make contact with AQUIND on their behalf, please do feel free to contact my office. I will be keeping a close on these developments”.

For further information visit: http://aquind.co.uk/