, , , ,

Local MP backs national campaign to ‘Shop Kind’ as Portsmouth Co-op signs up

Stephen Morgan MP has given his support to the national campaign to ‘Shop Kind’, as local co-operative stores sign up.

The campaign aims to build positivity and encourage kindness to both shopworkers and consumers in stores.

Southern Co-op, which operates The Co-operative Food stores, as well as funeral and coffee services across the south, is working with some of the UK’s biggest retailers, the Home Office and independent charity Crimestoppers who have launched a new and timely campaign urging the public to ShopKind after the reopening of more stores and shops across the country.

Abuse and violence towards shopworkers is a bigger problem than many people might think, with at least 400 shopworkers abused every day.

The campaign is backed by the Home Office and supported by major high street retailer as well as the nation’s independent shopkeepers, and the shopworkers Union Usdaw.

The Association of Convenience Stores’ 2021 Crime Report, published last month, shows that over the past year there have been over 1.2million incidents of verbal abuse, and around 40,000 incidents of violence against people working in convenience stores. Of these, more than a quarter involved a weapon, such as a knife, hammer, axe, or syringe.

Two-thirds of retailers (65%) had experienced Covid-related threats, with the most common causes of abuse being: reminding customers to wear face coverings, reminding customers of social distancing measures and queueing outside stores.

Backing the campaign city MP Stephen Morgan and Fratton resident Nikki Coles visited the Coop on New Road, Fratton.

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

“As restrictions slowly begin to ease and shops reopen, it is really important we are mindful of those key workers who have helped keep us going over the past year.

“The abuse they have received is completely unacceptable, particularly at a time when we should be thanking them for their sacrifices.

This behaviour cannot continue and as we gradually unpick the economy, we should use this as an opportunity to end such behaviour.

It is why I fully support the national ‘Shop Kind’ campaign.”

Nikki Coles, Labour’s candidate for Fratton, added:

“No one in Fratton or across our city should have to face violence and abuse just for doing their job, and nothing is more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of shopworkers who work tirelessly within communities – they deserve thanks, not abuse, threats and violence.

They also deserve for the law to better protect them as they go about their daily working lives”.

Portsmouth Labour representatives have previously backed Usdaw’s ‘Respect for Shopworkers Week’, last November, following a visit to a local Co-op supermarket in Portsmouth.

, , , , , , ,

Stephen Morgan MP opens new community pop-up shop open in Landport

Stephen Morgan MP opened the Landport Larder today, where residents can now purchase food for a fraction of the cost of supermarkets thanks to a new community pop-up shop.

For just £3.50 a week, people can select 10 items from a selection of tins, chilled items, and fresh fruit and veg. This would cost an average of £15 from the supermarket.

The larder has been set up by Enable Ability at Landport Community Centre, with support from Abri, one of the south of England’s largest housing providers.

The Landport Larder will be open Tuesdays, from 10am – 1pm at Landport Community Centre.

Customers will need to bring a bag to take items home in and will need to wear a mask while in the centre.

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

“It’s great to see initiatives like the Landport Larder offer much needed support to our communities.

While we know that the pandemic has hit us all hard, it has also brought communities together, supporting each other and coming up with new, creative ways to help others.

I hope we see more initiatives like this to create a positive legacy for what has been a hard time for us all.”

Paula Windebank, Community Development Officer at Abri, added:

“We’re proud to support the Landport Larder and help our community access fresh, healthy, affordable food.

It’s part of our five-year £15m investment to create thriving communities and empower lives, making sure we’re delivering change where it’s needed most.”

, , , , ,

Portsmouth MP welcomes new commission to rebuild Britain’s high streets and revitalise town centres

Stephen Morgan MP has thrown his support behind Labour’s new independent Commission ‘Rebuilding Our High Streets’, launched by the Shadow Chancellor today. The commission will seek to bring together experts from businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality, as well as representatives of the trade union, local government cooperative and social enterprise sectors.

The announcement comes as new figures reveal that over the last decade high streets across the UK have lost:

  • 9,775 shops
  • 5,785 pubs
  • 7,400 bank branches
  • 1,195 libraries

Meanwhile, the South East has lost 1080 shops, 945 pubs and 120 libraries over the same period.

The Commission will meet regularly over the course of the next six months to offer independent advice to the Party on issues such as:

  • How the high streets of the 2020s and beyond can be supported to thrive, as great places where people can shop, socialise, meet, work and live.
  • Bringing empty commercial properties back into use for existing and new businesses.
  • Levelling the playing field between bricks and mortar businesses and online firms.
  • Promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in our high streets, reflecting the needs of local communities.

The UK’s high streets have been hit by unprecedented challenges throughout the pandemic and face more threats in the coming year. These include government changes to planning rules in August, which will allow shops to be converted into low quality flats over the heads of local communities, and the staged return of business rates, with firms liable to pay full rates again in April next year.

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

“This year has brought unprecedented challenges to businesses and organisations across the country that depend on the local high street, none more so than here in Portsmouth.

“Labour is determined to deliver a brighter future for our high streets as part of our mission to make Britain the best place to grow up and grow old in, which is why I’m proud to support the Rebuilding Our High Streets Commission.

“Our vision is not one harking back to one of the past, but finding ways to make our town centres places we can be proud of and where communities can come together. This Commission will offer independent advice to Labour on how we achieve that.”

Mr Morgan has had regular meetings with local businesses and organisations linked to Portsmouth’s high streets throughout the pandemic, working on their behalf to get the support they need.

, , , ,

City MP reaffirms commitment to local WASPI women ‘Not Going Away’ campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has reaffirmed his commitment to ensure justice for local WASPI women following a meeting with local campaigners.

Mr Morgan heard from some of the local activists from Solent WASPI on this issue about the particular challenges they have been facing during the pandemic, with many struggling due to a delay to their pension.

The WASPI movement campaigns against the way the state pension age was equalised. Prior to the pandemic, millions of 1950s women had been made worse off, some losing up to £47,000. Reports are suggesting that these women are now being disproportionately hit by the impacts of Covid-19.

Evidence also suggests that many 1950s women work in the gig economy. The sector least supported by government Covid-19 schemes. This, coupled with low incomes undermining eligibility for universal credit, is resulting in severe loss of earnings for WASPI women.

Stephen Morgan MP, said,

“It is truly heart-breaking to still be hearing similar stories at this stage of the pandemic as we were at the beginning, but the government has still done little to support these women.”

“The situation for many WASPI women is continuing to deteriorate and it is clear they have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. I want to reaffirm my commitment to securing justice for them and the ‘Not Going Away’ campaign.”

During the meeting, the local parliamentary representative committed to a range of actions, including penning letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey MP, and re-energising campaign efforts alongside Solent WASPI in early 2021.

The Portsmouth South MP, added,

“It is unacceptable that the government has still not provided additional support for our local WASPI women and I will be writing to the Minister to urge her to ensure they get what they need.

I will continue to do all I can working alongside Solent WASPI and their tireless efforts to end this injustice affecting over 9,000 women here in Portsmouth”.

Shelagh Simmons, Coordinator of the Solent WASPI Supporters’ Group, also said,

“We were delighted to meet with Stephen recently and update him on our campaign.  The Covid-19 crisis has badly hit women already suffering as a result of the poorly implemented State Pension age rises.  Some still forced to work have lost their jobs and it will be extremely difficult – if not impossible – to find further employment in an environment rife with ageism. 

“WASPI supports an equal State Pension age for men and women but this was done with little, or no, notice.  For a generation of women who have never had equality, and did not have the same opportunities as men to build up private pension provision, it has been devastating. 

“We’re not asking for special treatment but for fair treatment.  Solent WASPI and its Portsmouth members are extremely grateful to Stephen for steadfastly supporting our campaign for State Pension justice.  We very much look forward to continue working with him on this in 2021. We are ‘Not Going Away’.”

Earlier this year, Stephen Morgan MP took action on behalf of the WASPI to put pressure on the government in a bid to get the help they required.

,

Inspiring Fratton Awards shines a spotlight on unsung heroes in our city says Portsmouth MP

Stephen Morgan MP has paid tribute to the efforts of all of this year’s winners of the Inspiring Fratton Awards, a scheme set up by the parliamentarian and local organisation Fratton Big Local.

This week local school girl Lacie, accepted her award for their contribution to education, who spent a weekend running in fancy dress in order to raise money for the school’s garden. The £350 raised allowed the school to purchase a range of products for it, including a water feature.

Under Covid restrictions, this year’s awards ceremony took place safely in much fewer numbers at St Mary’s Church earlier this month and was livestreamed online, with some winners like Lacie unable to collect their award.

All awards have now this week been issued to all winners.

Stephen Morgan MP, said,

“I want to thank Lacie and all our award winners for their tremendous contribution to our local community in Fratton.

“I’m really pleased to be able to deliver this award to someone who richly deserves it and its really important all of this year’s award winners’ achievements are recognised.”

The community award scheme also recognised  – a number of other community winners in a range of categories. All winners for 2020 are:

 1. Contribution to Creativity in Fratton Over 18:

Anita Godson

“Inspiring young adults to build their own creative social enterprise in the community. Amazing work with vulnerable adults, including them in their community and working in partnership within the community.”

 2. Contribution to Creativity in Fratton Under 18

Hannah Clark

“Singer and songwriter, at the age of 16 she has regularly performed for charity events.”

 

3. Contribution to Education in Fratton Over 18

Sarah Mitas

“Inspiring and dedicated to others.”

 

4. Contribution to Sport in Fratton Over 18

Jen Stoneham

“Jen has volunteered for GoodGym and the HIVE during the pandemic and has been out doing something with these organisations most weeks. She has also been on the front line working as a midwife and has still found time to keep up her running.”

 

5. Contribution to Sport in Fratton Under 18

Bruno Hoxha

“Bruno is in year 6 and is very good at sports and always tries hard, helping and supporting others whilst playing. He is very enthusiastic during school PE lessons and shows good sportsmanship.”

 

6. Contribution to Volunteering in Fratton Over 18

Billy Shannon

“For unstinting selfless dedication to care, comfort and providing meals to the homeless living on the streets in Portsmouth.”

 

7. Contrition to Volunteering in Fratton Under 18

Kayla Thornton

“We held an appeal at Manor Infant School for support with a new Nurture garden we were setting up. Lacie and Kayla went above and beyond and spent a weekend running in fancy dress in order to raise money for our garden. They raised over £350 which allowed us to buy many things for the garden, including a water feature. We were very grateful for their support.”

 

8.  Best Café/ Take away in Fratton Road

Chit Chat

“I would like to nominate Chit Chats Café based in Fratton Community Centre for always making us feel welcome. They have created a beautiful, and much valued, little space in the heart of the Fratton community. Plus their cakes are delicious!”

 

9. Best Trader/Business in Fratton Road

Make

 “Fantastic community enterprise.”

 

10. Contribution to community life in Fratton in extraordinary times Over 18:

Rosie Francis

“Rosie has worked tirelessly throughout lockdown, giving up her own time while furloughed to make sure those who were isolating didn’t go without, making food deliveries and doing shopping. Walking all over Portsmouth to deliver. Also cleaning St Mary’s Church from top to bottom to make sure we can safely come back to Church and providing daily cleaning and always a cheery smile. Thank you Rosie.”

 

11. Contribution to community life in Fratton in extraordinary times Under 18

Alex Moles

“Alex has been working hard with his mum to help share awareness of the Portsmouth Harvest appeal. He has made posters and even got his School, Beaver section and junior church involved with his idea- how much food can you buy for £3? The same price as a coffee. He wants to help those who are less fortunate than him and have no or little money to buy food.  Over lock down Alex has been cheering everyone up with making different displays for the front room windows, he has painted stones to give away, made everyone laugh with his amazing scarecrow he made for Make Urban Scarecrow Festival. He also made a 99yr old veteran’s day by going to their house on VE day and singing “we’ll meet again” to her outside her front door. He doesn’t always get it right but he has been working extremely hard to help others. Well done Alex, I’m proud of you.”

, , , , ,

Portsmouth MP calls on Government to commit that no one in our country spends winter on streets

Stephen Morgan MP is calling on the Government to commit that no one in Portsmouth or across our country will spend this winter on the streets, with rough sleeping in the South East having increased by 190% since 2010.

With many night shelters closed because of Covid-19 restrictions, and fears there will be thousands of fewer beds available across the country, the Member of Parliament is working to ensure everyone has a safe, Covid-secure place to stay this winter.

Research by charity HomelessLink found one third of homeless organisations and local authorities expect to see a decrease in capacity this winter.

Despite efforts by the council and local voluntary groups, in Portsmouth, rough sleeping is now over five times higher than what it was a decade ago.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said,

“We are now at a particularly dangerous period for rough sleepers in our city, with temperatures expected to be now dropping to below freezing in some areas.

“Government and local authorities, including our own, must continue to do all they can to ensure rough sleepers get the support they need to keep them safe.

“It is a moral disgrace that homelessness still exists in a country like our own and to see both locally and nationally homelessness rising over the last ten years under this government.”

Thangam Debbonaire MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, added,

“Even before the crisis, rough sleeping was a shameful sign of government failure.

“This winter, without the last resort of night shelters, rough sleeping is more desperate than ever.

“The Government promised to end rough sleeping for good – it must ensure everyone has a safe, Covid-secure place to stay this winter.”

Earlier this year, Mr Morgan previously raised his concerns on the need for better support for veterans who are homeless, and has vowed to work with others to end homelessness in our country.

, , , , , ,

Stephen Morgan MP calls for greater support for pubs as new figures show over 5,500 closures in last decade

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to ramp up national support for pubs, as new figures reveal over 5,500 pubs have closed in the past decade. The equivalent of one pub or bar every 14 hours.

This comes during a particularly difficult period for the hospitality sector, following the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of pubs and bars has fallen in every region and nation of the UK. The opposition is today warning that the government risk further closures of pubs and bars, accelerating job losses and damaging high streets and night life across the country, if they press ahead with their blanket withdrawal of the furlough scheme.

Stephen Morgan MP said,

“Public houses and bars both in Portsmouth and across the country are incredibly important support hubs for local high street businesses, as well as being the social fabric of communities.

“The government’s negligence to support pubs and the wider hospitality sector over the last decade has been made clear by its stubbornness to not move to a more sensible, targeted furlough scheme for the hardest hit sectors.”

From 2010 to 2019, the number of pubs and bars in the UK has fallen from 44,680 to 39,145, a drop over 5,500 (12%). Meanwhile in the South East, the number of pubs and bars has fallen by a higher rate of 14%, from 6,195 to 5,340, an overall drop of around 855 closures.

Mr Morgan added,

“Here in the South East we have seen a higher than national average of closures of pubs and bars in the past decade, and I am determined to do everything I can to support the hospitality sector through this crisis and beyond, including ensuring the government sticks to its promise in ‘levelling up’.”

Mr Morgan has previously called for greater support for the hospitality sector of Portsmouth, following the impacts on local businesses due to Covid-19.

, , , ,

Shadow Armed Forces Minister visits National Museum of the Royal Navy to hear about their road to recovery

Concerned by the impact of coronavirus and the subsequent economic crisis faced by the nation’s armed forces museums, Stephen Morgan MP today spent time with the Director of the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) as part of ongoing support for the charity.

Stephen Morgan MP kicked off the socially distanced visit with a meeting led by the Museum’s senior management. First on the agenda was the fact the NMRN and Mary Rose Museum would be opening together later this month with a consolidated ticketing system, while the future of the Royal Marines Museum and public safety ahead of reopening was also discussed.

Mr Morgan then went onto a behind the scenes tour of HMS Victory. This included a tour of the public viewing platforms which are currently mid construction and the changes being made to the dry dock facility, making Mr Morgan the first representative in the city to see the work underway.

On the new viewing platform, Mr Morgan said:

“The new viewing platform will allow visitors the opportunity to see the craftsmanship that has gone into HMS Victory from an entirely new perspective.

This, coupled with the implementation of new hydraulic capabilities aimed at further preserving the ship, proves that the Historic Dockyard is at the cutting edge of delivering a high quality visitor experience.”

The city MP also took the opportunity to hear about the new consolidated ticketing function with the Mary Rose Museum, challenges faced by local museums ahead of reopening, and observed the changes being made to the dry dock being used to preserve HMS Victory.  

Commenting on the venture with the Mary Rose Museum, Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The National Museum of the Royal Navy, home to the world’s most famous warship, is a cultural institution that educates, inspires and informs people from across the globe about our nation’s naval history. While the Mary Rose acts as a porthole into the past, its preservation and excavation is considered world-leading.

I welcome the innovation and cooperative spirit demonstrated by both the NMRN and the Mary Rose, and following discussions today, remain hopeful that this joint venture will lead to both institutions successfully weathering the storm of Covid-19 – an outcome very important to our community.”

The visit comes in the wake of news that government would offer support to the museum, following lobbying by the Portsmouth South MP and others. Concerns over the future of the major cultural asset arose in recent months due to the severe loss of footfall; causing Mr Morgan to lobby Ministers in Parliament and to write directly to the Defence Secretary urging financial assistance.

The NMRN was facing disproportionate strain in comparison to other national museums as 81% of its funding relies on donors and visitor revenue, meaning that unless government stepped in the museum could face closure.

On financial challenges faced by NMRN, Mr Morgan added:

“I welcome news that government is finally willing to give this of significant national asset the support it deserves. However, I will continue to engage with the museum and Ministers to ensure its future remains secure.

Seeing the safety measures put in place today, alongside the adaptations made to normal service due to Covid, there is no doubt in my mind that every measure has been taken to preserve visitor experience and public safety.

Portsmouth is steeped in military history. It is vital that we preserve and protect this heritage so that future generations can understand just how significant our city is. I urge people to do their bit to support the NMRN by booking in a visit, in line with government guidelines.”

 

, , , , ,

“Just 24 hours to save jobs” says city MP in response to new regional furlough data

“Fresh stats reveal marked deterioration in South East jobs market and economy, even compared to data released three weeks ago” says city Stephen Morgan backing Labour’s 5-point plan.

24 hours to save jobs – new analysis shows high street still under strain in South East, including Portsmouth as 1,216, 600 furloughed workers start losing support in a matter of hours.

Three weeks ago, Stephen Morgan MP released a statement outlining his response to damning stats showing how many people have fallen through the gaps in government support across the region. New data today shows that even in the short time since then, things have become markedly worse.

Analysis released today by the Labour Party shows:

  • Footfall for key high street businesses is still down 40% on pre-pandemic levels in the UK
  • 7% of businesses in the hardest hit sector still report being temporarily closed
  • 1,216,600 furloughed workers in the South East begin losing support in a matter of hours – making it a 7.1% increase in just a few weeks

New analysis by the Labour Party shows many businesses in the South East still face significant challenges due to coronavirus.

Google mobility data shows that footfall for retail and recreation businesses, including restaurants, cafes, museums and cinemas, is down 45% in Portsmouth compared to pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, footfall on public transport and around workplaces is still down 18%.

Meanwhile, the latest ONS data shows some firms have still not reopened, whilst a large number of those that have report lower turnover.

A fifth of businesses in the food and accommodation sector have still not been able to reopen, including nearly 30% of SMEs. 43% of businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector are also still temporarily closed, including nearly half of SMEs.

Meanwhile, of those that have opened, 84% in food and accommodation and 72% in arts and entertainment report reduced turnover from pre-pandemic levels.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Hardworking Portsmouth people, through no fault of their own, have fallen through the substantial gaps in government support. From the self-employed to new businesses, people from a variety of occupations are facing financial turmoil.

The marked deterioration of the state of employment in our region, even just over the last two weeks, is a testament to the fact more must be done.

The government was too slow into lockdown, too slow on testing, now its too slow to protect jobs. That is why I support Labour’s 5-point plan that will fight for jobs, back our businesses, leave no-one behind, keep workers safe and drive up job creation”

In under 24 hours, these firms begin losing support from the Job Retention Scheme and will have to start meeting some of the cost of non-working hours for any retained employees (either fully or partially furloughed).

This change risks handing furloughed workers In the South East their P45;

  • 1, 216, 600, people have been furloughed an increase from 1,035,400 – equivalent to 29% of the workforce
  • 203, 400 workers in the food and accommodation, equivalent to 72% of the workforce
  • 73, 500 workers in arts, entertainment and recreation, equivalent to 69% of the workforce

While the arts and food sectors have seen an increase in output over the last few weeks, this is solely down to an easing of lockdown restrictions. Many still reserve concerns that businesses will not survive unless more comprehensive support is offered by government.

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds MP said:

“The Chancellor’s refusal to abandon his one-size-fits-all withdrawal of furlough is an historic mistake that risks a python-like squeeze on jobs in the worst-hit sectors. The reward for months of hard work and sacrifice by the British people cannot be a P45.

It’s not too late for the Chancellor to see sense, change course and support the businesses and sectors that need it most. But even if he does, there is still much to do.

That’s why Labour is today launching the Jobs Jobs Jobs campaign – to offer concrete, constructive proposals that would protect the economy and people’s livelihoods.”

Labour is calling on the government to reverse course and extend the furlough scheme so that it supports jobs in the worst-hit sectors and targets aid to struggling industries.

This would put the UK in line with other major developed democracies, with many extending their versions of the Job Retention Scheme or similar wage subsidy schemes:

  • France announced in July that their emergency wage subsidy scheme would operate for up to two years.
  • Germany already benefited from an existing wage subsidy or ‘short-time’ work scheme, introduced after the financial crisis to prevent unemployment during downturns. The scheme was expanded in March, with these changes lasting until the end of the year. Workers can receive a subsidy for up to a year, meaning the government will be subsidising wages well into 2021.
  • Australia recently announced that its Job Keeper wage subsidy scheme would be extended until March 2021 for the worst affected firms. The scheme was due to end in September and is still open to new claims.
  • Ireland announced last week that its temporary wage subsidy scheme would remain in place until March 2021.

 

 

, , , , , , ,

Shadow Armed Forces Minister hosts ‘Labour Listens’ event for forces communities across region

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP this evening hosted the Shadow Defence Secretary for a virtual roundtable for communities across the south east.

Giving people with a forces interest a chance to relay their concerns to the senior frontbenchers, the event is part of a UK-wide programme of discussions led by Labour’s shadow defence team.

The purpose is to link those in the forces and forces communities along with their families directly with Labour’s decision-makers, reaffirming the party’s stance as four-square behind our troops.

Stephen Morgan, Shadow Armed Forces Minister said:

“In Portsmouth it is impossible to miss the immeasurable value of our troops, whether it’s helping set up test centres to combat Covid or patrolling our waters to keep us safe.

To ensure we are delivering for them, we’ve got to understand the hopes and aspirations of the Armed Forces community, as well as the problems they face after a decade of declining numbers, morale and pay.

“We also want to talk about the pride we share in the excellence and professionalism of Britain’s service men and women, feelings I know many Portsmouth people share.”

The event falls in line with announcements made by the Labour leader on (27 June) Armed Forces Day, that Labour is open and listening to the forces community and must take onboard their views and concerns to win back trust.

John Healey, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

“I want to open up Labour again to our Armed Forces, their families and veterans across our country.

“Today’s event is part of an exciting new dialogue with forces communities. We want to say thank you to our Armed Forces for the role they play both at home and abroad. We will make sure we listen and learn from them.

“As Britain faces a period of greater global risk and conflict, I want Labour to hear their voices and views, and I want them to play a bigger part in our Party.”