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Portsmouth MP tours CityFibre’s Full Fibre works in Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has toured CityFibre’s ongoing works in the city for its ‘Full Fibre’ £32m project.

During the visit, Mr Morgan and representatives from CityFibre were introduced to full fibre digital infrastructure and provided with demonstrations of the typical build process, including excavation and reinstatement.

Work is underway across the constituency and beyond to build a citywide full fibre network that will reach almost every home and business in Portsmouth.

The project forms part of CityFibre’s up to £4 billion Gigabit City Investment Programme, which will bring full fibre networks within reach of up to 8 million homes and businesses across the UK.

Unlike the majority of the digital infrastructure accessible to households today, full fibre networks use 100% fibre optic cables to carry data at light speed all the way from the home to the point of connection. This gives users consistently faster speeds for upload and download (up to 1,000 Mbps), near limitless bandwidth and connectivity for users.

During the tour, the city MP helped ‘splice’ some fibre cable for an install in Portsea alongside an engineer.

Commenting on the progress of CityFibre’s £32m project, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, said:

“It was really useful to meet with CityFibre to get an update on the works it’s been doing to improve broadband connectivity in Portsmouth.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, boosting local gigabit broadband availability will be crucial to bridging the digital divide in our city to support catch-up learning and tackling loneliness. I raised this with Ministers in the House of Commons a few weeks ago.

“Full fibre connectivity will support our economic, social and smart city ambitions.”

In Portsmouth, services will be available from an increasing range of broadband providers. Across the UK, CityFibre is already working with launch partner Vodafone to supply full fibre infrastructure for customers on selected Vodafone Pro Broadband plans, while TalkTalk and other providers are expected to join the network soon.

Residents can find out more about the build and register their interest at cityfibre.com/homes

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Stephen Morgan MP responds

Many of you have contacted me in the last few days regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I know that, like me, you will have been deeply moved by the suffering caused by this unprovoked and unjustifiable attack.

I wanted to set out Labour’s views on this important issue and answer some of the specific questions constituents have asked me in the last few days.

Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine is an unprovoked and unjustifiable outrage that is having tragic consequences for Ukraine and its people. It is a heinous violation of international law that breaks multiple treaties and commitments, including the fundamental principles of the UN Charter. It should be utterly condemned by all nations.

We must now ensure that our Government stands up to dictators and tyrants and stands in solidarity with Ukrainians as they defend their homeland. There can be no space for equivocation when faced with the evil that Putin has unleashed. His actions pose a grave threat to the international order on which we all depend.

NATO and military assistance

The Labour Party’s commitment to NATO is unshakeable – and the alliance has strongly condemned Putin’s actions. We must move in lockstep with our NATO allies, and take steps to reinforce NATO members on the Eastern flank. The Government has Labour’s full support to do this. It is right that Britain has provided support to Ukraine to defend itself – and this should continue.

It is clear that Ukranians intend to defend their country and we must continue to support them in this endeavour.

The UK has already sent defensive assistance to the country – and this has included anti-tank weapons systems, body armour, helmets and boots. We should respond to specific requests from the Ukrainian Government for assistance – which has been the basis for our previous support, as well as coordinate support with our allies.

Sanctions

The sanctions package announced by the government contains measures that are good in principle, but the rhetoric must match the reality as we scrutinise the details, and Labour believes there is more that could be done.

The influence of corrupt Russian money must be extricated from the UK.  Despite warning after warning, the Government has been asleep at the wheel and failed to act, leaving Britain as the destination of choice for kleptocrats who hide their wealth under our noses. It should not have taken an invasion of Ukraine for the government to take action. This must mark a turning point.

The government must now bring forward the urgent measures that Labour have repeatedly called for, ending the impunity that oligarchs have enjoyed, reforming Companies House to crack down on the shell companies that hide suspect wealth, introducing an Overseas Entities Bill to lift the veil on property ownership, and finally bringing forward the Economic Crime Bill that has been delayed.

Refuge

The sad reality is millions have already been displaced and this is likely to worsen in the weeks and months ahead. The Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary must coordinate urgently with our allies, with the UN and with neighbouring countries to offer urgent humanitarian assistance, and support for those crossing the border, to ensure they can leave as safely as possible.

Alongside countries across Europe and across the world we need to make all the necessary preparations to ensure that those who are fleeing conflict can find safety and sanctuary. It is unacceptable that the Home Office is continuing to impose stringent visa requirements on those fleeing war, including the families of British citizens. A safe sanctuary route should be established immediately.

Portsmouth has a well-established reputation as a place of sanctuary. Last year, I was pleased to meet some of the families that were evacuated from Afghanistan as part of Operation Pitting. I have written to the Immigration Minister to reinforce Labour’s calls for the introduction of a safe and legal sanctuary route without further delay.

Frequently asked questions:

How would Labour go further on sanctions?

There is more we can do to cut Putin’s rogue regime out of our financial system.

We are urging the government to widen export controls to include luxury goods, widen the number of banks prevented from accessing sterling, sanction an expanded list of oligarchs and cronies and increase the pace at which individuals and entities are designated, expand sectoral sanctions to cover insurance and further limit the supply of goods, services and technology to the energy sector and other strategic sectors of the Russian economy, apply sanctions to wealth held under the name of family members.

Will this end with UK or NATO troops being sent to Ukraine?

UK or NATO troops will not be deployed to Ukraine. NATO’s Secretary General has been clear about that and said there are no NATO forces in Ukraine. Ukraine is not a NATO member and is not covered by Article 5’s mutual security guarantee.

But we should be absolutely clear about our commitment to the security of NATO allies, many of whom feel threatened by Russia, and we should bolster and reinforce our NATO allies, especially on the Eastern Flank. The Government has our full support to do that. It is also right that Britain continues to provide assistance to help Ukraine defend itself.

What is Labour saying needs to happen to assist in the humanitarian crisis?

The government must urgently prepare humanitarian support for Ukraine, and for neighbours and partners on its borders.

Estimates suggest there are already 2.9 million people in need and this number is likely to rise fast as more areas are targeted. There is a risk of large-scale displacement of people and flows of refugees out of the country fleeing the conflict.

We need the government to urgently provide details on the scale of aid it is providing to support the Ukrainian people at their hour of need.

Russia must grant full and unfettered humanitarian access to the International Red Cross, as it is required to under the Geneva Conventions and abide by the laws of armed conflict.

Does Labour support the government’s new sanctions?

Labour wants to see the strongest possible sanctions as fast as possible to effectively freeze the Russian regime out of our economic system. It’s important that there is unity across our allies and partners in hitting Putin incredibly hard.

A lot of the new sanctions measures that the government announced are good in principle, but the rhetoric must match the reality as we scrutinise the detail and we think the government can go further. Labour strongly welcomes the ban on trading sovereign debts and limiting access to financial markets, which we had been calling for. But the asset freeze designations seem incredibly slow. We would like the government to be moving faster than this and we hope they will in the coming days.

Hasn’t the west been weak in allowing this to happen in the first place?

These are the actions of an unhinged tyrant who has a total disregard for the health and wealth of the people of Russia and Ukraine.

We’re all saddened by this act of war, but we aren’t shocked. Putin has been responsible for conflict in regions of Ukraine since 2014, and he has been propping up authoritarians in the region for longer. Clearly it is a huge tragedy that he diplomatic process of the Minsk agreements have failed. Putin has reached the conclusion that the benefits of invasion have outweighed the costs.

We must work with our Allies across Europe, Nato and beyond to reach new security arrangements that ensure he will never make that calculation in the future.

With energy prices already up, will sanctions against Russia hurt the pockets of us at home?

Thankfully Britain is less exposed to this problem than our European neighbours.

Energy security is vital. We must work with our European allies to handle any disruption in the supply of energy and raw materials.

It is true that we are uniquely exposed to the global gas crisis because of a decade of Tory mismanagement. Gas storage has been cut and we’re reliant on imports. Homes are not insulated; and they’ve been slow on renewables and nuclear.

Is Labour committed to fundamental reform of our energy system?

Yes. That means reducing Britain’s reliance on imported gas by accelerating home-grown renewables and new nuclear.

Making sure 19 million homes are warm and well-insulated, saving households an average of £400 a year on their bills.

And regulating the market better, with a pledge to never again let energy companies play fast and loose with the rules.

Is this a breach of international law?

As NATO and the UN has said, this attack is a grave violation of international law, including the UN Charter, and is wholly contradictory to Russia’s commitments in the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris, the Budapest Memorandum and the NATO-Russia Founding Act.

It constitutes an act of aggression against an independent peaceful country.

 

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Portsmouth MP commends Portsmouth Water for its ‘vital’ service to the city

Stephen Morgan MP has commended the work of local water company Portsmouth Water for its ‘vital’ services it provides to the city.

Touring some of the water provider’s facilities today, the city MP received a briefing on some of the key challenges facing the company such as climate change and water resources management, as well as how Portsmouth Water is responding through innovation and collaboration.

Mr Morgan was also able learn more about Portsmouth Water’s Havant Thicket reservoir project and see first-hand full extent of its environmental preparation works.

The Portsmouth representative also had the opportunity to visit Portsmouth Water’s Farlington Water Treatment Works, which provides the majority of the water supply to the city of Portsmouth.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

Portsmouth Water provides vital services to residents across our city, so it was really useful to visit its facilities and see first-hand the work it is doing to serve our city.

“Protecting our local environment is crucial for the long-term sustainability of our city and surrounding area, so it is encouraging to learn about the work Portsmouth Water is doing to ensure that happens.

“I look to forward to seeing the benefits of Portsmouth Water’s innovative work to ensure everyone in the city gets the water they need in the most sustainable way possible.”

Bob Taylor, CEO, Portsmouth Water, also said:

“We were delighted to welcome Stephen Morgan to Portsmouth Water on Friday. This is an incredibly exciting time for the company as we embark on our flagship Havant Thicket Reservoir project and it was privilege to show Stephen the site of the new reservoir.

At its heart, Havant Thicket Reservoir is an environmentally-led project and we were pleased to give Stephen the opportunity to see the significant environmental works which have already been carried out on site.

Stephen was also taken for a tour of our Farlington Water Treatment Works where he witnessed first-hand how the water which supplies the majority of his constituents is treated to the very highest standards.”

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Energy Crisis: 11,885 jobs in Portsmouth at risk as energy cost rises hit businesses

Stephen Morgan MP has attacked the government after new analysis revealed that without urgent measures to address skyrocketing energy costs for manufacturing and industry, 11,885 jobs in Portsmouth may be at risk.

This rises to 334,565 jobs across the whole of the South East.

Industries that use a lot of energy in production are facing massive increases in energy bills, as the wholesale forward contract cost of gas rose by 80 per cent between May and November 2021, according to Ofgem.

Industries including metal, glass and ceramic manufacturing and mining are bearing the brunt of price rises.

In 2018, British industry paid on average 33% more for electricity than their European counterparts, but UK Steel has said that figure is as high as 61% today.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said: 

“Households are facing soaring energy bills and so are businesses, especially those in energy intensive sectors, but Government has offered little to address the eye-watering costs they are facing.

“Energy prices for businesses have gone up as much as four times and if the Government don’t do something soon, 11,885 jobs in Portsmouth could be lost as more and more businesses close their doors.

“That’s why Labour has a plan ready to go to cut VAT on home and business energy bills, as well as a contingency fund for energy intensive industries including steel, glass, ceramics, chemicals and paper, who face massive increases in costs.

“With working people and families in our city already struggling to make ends meet, ordinary people cannot afford to lose their jobs as well. Labour will always guarantee workers and their employers the security, prosperity and respect they deserve.”

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Portsmouth MP votes to ensure every young person is ‘ready for work’ as city faces steep skills drop

Stephen Morgan MP voted in the House of Commons today to ensure every child in Portsmouth is ‘ready for work’, as city faces a skills shortage.

Since 2015, the number of apprenticeships starts in Portsmouth has fallen by 42% – equivalent to 900 fewer apprenticeships over the last six years. According to the latest data from the Department for Education, only 1,220 people in Portsmouth started an apprenticeship in 2020/21, compared to 2,120 in 2015/16.

Nationally, there has been a drop of almost 200,000 in the number of people starting an apprenticeship over the last decade.

Ahead of its final stages in the House of Commons today, Labour said the government’s Skills Bill would ‘create new structures and bureaucracies, but will do little to tackle the major skills shortages in key sectors including, health and social care, manufacturing or engineering’.

Labour tabled changes to the government bill to:

  • require face to face careers guidance for every pupil and two weeks’ worth of compulsory work experience, highlighting Labour’s Ready for Work Ready for Life policies announced at our Annual Conference;
  • ensure Mayoral Combined Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and local authorities are part of drawing up Local Skills Improvement Plans alongside Employer Representative Bodies;
  • establish a 4-year moratorium on Level 3 qualifications;
  • require IFATE to perform a review of the operation of the apprenticeship levy;
  • ensure Employer Representative Bodies have a requirement to have strategies for people with special educational needs and disabilities.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“Our apprentices make an enormous contribution to our city’s economy and wider society, but Government is not doing enough to support local young people after a decade of decline.

“Ministers should adopt Labour’s plan to create thousands of new apprenticeships this year, securing the opportunities young people need to gain productive skills and support our economy to prosper.

“I’ve seen first-hand the power of apprenticeships to transform lives after talking with apprentices and employers. That’s why I voted to boost opportunities for local young people and help secure our economy post-pandemic.”

The City MP visited BAE Systems at HMNB Portsmouth last week, which is running an early careers and apprenticeship programme for young people as part of its ‘skills agenda’. The Portsmouth MP also met with young people who are out of work and employers attending the local Jobcentre’s recruitment event last Thursday.

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City MP grills Ministers on UK cyber-security resilience after Ukraine attacks

Stephen Morgan MP grilled Ministers in the House of Commons today on how the Government is strengthening UK cyber security in response to growing threats and Russian aggression.

It comes after Ukraine last week accused Russia of a cyber attack on two banks and its defence ministry, as tensions between Ukraine and NATO allies and Russia continue to grow.

The UK government confirmed on Friday that the National Cyber Security Centre attributed the reports of the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on 15 and 16 February 2022 to almost certainly have involved the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU).

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The sustained build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine’s borders is deeply alarming. Labour is steadfast in our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. It is Russia’s actions that are driving this dangerous escalation of tensions.

“But while Britain is right to step-up defensive military support to Ukraine, we must now strengthen our defences at home, including cyber security.

“Despite warning after warning, Government has presided over a decade of decline. It should not have taken an army threatening Ukraine to provide a wake-up call.

“Ministers must ensure UK cyber security has the support and resources it needs to remain resilient against external threats.”

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Portsmouth MP pushes for John Pounds Medical Centre to reopen

Local residents, Labour councillors and Stephen Morgan MP have united to lobby for the John Pounds Medical Centre to reopen, following its closure in July 2020.

Lake Road Practice, which John Pounds Medical Centre merged with, said at the time, ‘“With Covid-19 affecting us all this year” the GP service site would temporarily close, with a view “to restarting clinics at John Pounds as soon as we can offer a suitable Covid secure service.”

However, despite covid cases now lowering and local vaccination rates higher, the GP service has still not reopened.

The Portsmouth MP has written to Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) raising concerns his constituents have shared with him on this issue, and on the level of access to alternative GP services in the Portsea area.

Many local residents are either vulnerable or disabled, but have said they are now faced with little choice but to walk up to 30 minutes longer to access the medical attention they need at Lake Road GP practice.

The City MP’s constituents have also said that alternative forms of local transport for this route are either unreliable or expensive.

It comes as the local Labour team, led by Cllr Kirsty Mellor, helped to collect signatures for a petition residents have produced, calling for the John Pounds Medical Centre to reopen.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The John Pounds Medical Centre is vital for people in Portsea to get easy access to the healthcare they need. While it remains closed with no clear explanation for it being so, residents who depend on it face unneeded uncertainty and anxiety.

“That’s why I have written to decision-makers to clarify reasons why John Pounds Medical Centre remains closed and when we can expect it to reopen.

“Local Labour councillors have been doing important work alongside the community on this, and I am grateful for the petition local residents have produced. Our NHS has been left creaking at the seams by Ministers in Whitehall and urgent intervention is needed to bring down local waiting times across our city.

“I will continue to make the case in Parliament for the action and support that’s required to secure the health and social care services our city deserves.”

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Stephen Morgan MP set to host his next ‘Pint with your MP’ session next week

Stephen Morgan MP is set to host his next ‘Pint with your MP’ session of 2022, with the event taking place next Sunday February 27th at 4pm.

The pop-up ‘Pint with your MP’ sessions are designed as informal opportunities for constituents to say hello to their local Member of Parliament and share issues and concerns about topics of interest both locally and nationally.

The Portsmouth representative is determined to take up every opportunity to have more face-to-face conversations with constituents safely after more than a year of restrictions, whilst also helping to support local businesses, as the city recovers from the pandemic.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“There are a range of issues impacting people right now, from access to local healthcare to the cost-of-living crisis, so I’m pleased to be hosting my next ‘Pint with your MP’ next week to listen to concerns and take them back up to Westminster.

“It’s really important that people from all walks of life are able to speak to me about the issues that matter to them. I hope these sessions have been a useful and more accessible way for some people to contact me, who might otherwise be unable.

“I look to forward to chatting with constituents next week over a pint of whatever their choosing and warmly encourage others to tell a friend, who may have trouble reaching my office through the usual routes.”

The full address for the ‘Pint with your MP’ session is: Brewers Tap, 177 Eastney Rd, Southsea, PO4 8EA

While most restrictions have now been relaxed, attendees are encouraged to take reasonable precautions to feel safe to attend.

The event is open to all constituents and booking is essential. To confirm your attendance, visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pint-with-your-mp-tickets-264193107697?aff=erelexpmlt

 

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City MP reacts to Portsmouth’s Port’s new ‘ambitious’ 20-year masterplan

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed Portsmouth International Port’s (PIP) new 20-year masterplan, launched earlier today.

The £92m 20-year Masterplan is expected to generate £739m over next ten years and secure over 11,000 jobs over the next 20.

£357m is expected to be generated for the local economy by 2042, up from roughly £187m it currently does now.

The Masterplan that will focus on:

  • Expansion of port land to cater for increase in unaccompanied freight
  • Extension of berth to cater for ships up to 300m
  • Extension to 25m for ships exiting the port
  • Creation of out-of-city pre gate and storage facilities
  • Smart technology to manage cargo and passenger flow
  • Sustainable infrastructure to manage alternative power demands
  • Achieve net zero by 2030
  • Facilitate a new electric ferry service
  • Upgrade facilities at international cargo terminal Portico
  • New Border Control Post

Mr Morgan lobbied government on behalf of PIP for £32m of funding in October 2020 from the government’s Port Infrastructure Fund, to prepare for new customs arrangements, allowing it to adapt to the government’s own new Border Operating Model.

However, the city port was only handed £17.1m of what it asked for – leaving a very large of shortfall of at least £7m and many businesses dependent on the port in the dark.

Government has also so far ignored the port’s further request for funding for all its originally planned new Border Control Points, and without it, the port will have no facility to use to check the 30,000 breeding animals that are expected to come through each year.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“Portsmouth Port’s success is our city’s success, so I am delighted to learn how it will continue to create thousands of jobs, supporting our local economy and our national prosperity for many more years to come.

“The port’s new masterplan offers an exciting and ambitious future for Portsmouth, supporting the next generation through good quality work at a key asset for our city, providing lifelong career opportunities for local young people to take pride in.

“I am proud that the city’s port is putting environmental ambitions at the centre of its plans, working with partners who share these values, as they have a moral obligation to future generations to do so. 

“As a council-owned port, society and economy must go hand in hand, and it also means that decisions can be made based on wider benefits.

“I’ve been relentlessly lobbying ministers to get the support our port needs, but government has continued to short-change our city. I will continue to speak up for the port to secure the investment it deserves.

“The delivery of these plans is now essential to ensure Portsmouth International Port remains one of the prize assets of our city and the country that we can all be proud of. I look forward to continuing to support these efforts to ensure it happens.”

The City MP was particularly supportive of targets included within the plan to reach carbon net-zero by 2030, and become the UK’s first zero emission port by 2050.

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NHS waiting list at Portsmouth Hospitals University Hospitals NHS Trust reaching over 45,000 ‘deeply concerning’, says City MP

Stephen Morgan MP has said that the latest figures from the NHS that show that at the end of December 2021, there were 45,397 people on the waiting list at Portsmouth Hospitals University Hospitals NHS Trust is ‘seriously concerning.

At the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, following a decade of Tory government, there were 4.4 million people on the NHS waiting list in England, then a record high.

Nationally, the standard of 92% of people seen within 18 weeks of a referral has not been met since 2016. Now, 1 in every 9 people in England are on the NHS waiting list.

The NHS went into the latest wave of Covid infections with the longest waiting list ever, understaffed and overstretched.

The Conservative Government published its elective care recovery plan for the NHS this week, but failed to set out how it would address the workforce shortages the NHS is facing. The plan set the Government’s ambition as beginning to reduce waiting lists in 2024.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said: 

“These new figures are deeply concerning. People in Portsmouth are being forced to wait months and even years for treatment, often in pain and discomfort. Now the Government is telling them that, despite hiking up their national insurance, they will continue waiting longer for years to come.

“It is clear that the longer we give the Tories, the longer patients will wait.

“Our local health care staff worked heroically throughout the pandemic, but they have been stretched like never before.

“Government provide the staff and support Portsmouth Hospitals University Hospitals NHS Trust needs to get patients the quality care they deserve, when they need it.

Wes Streeting MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said:

“Record numbers of people are waiting for care and they are waiting longer than ever before, often in pain and distress.

“After a decade of Tory mismanagement, the NHS went into the pandemic with record waiting lists and staff shortages of 100,000. It’s not just that the Tories didn’t fix the roof when the sun was shining, they dismantled the roof and removed the floorboards.

“The Conservatives are so incompetent they’ve come up with a plan that sees patients paying more in tax but waiting longer for care.

“The last Labour government reduced waiting times from 18 months to 18 weeks. The next Labour government will secure the future of our NHS, providing the staff it needs to treat patients on time.”