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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.”

 

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“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.

 

 

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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.”

 

 

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‘Help find Portsmouth’s best small shop’ urges city MP

In a bid to continue to help support small business and Portsmouth’s small shops on the road to recovery, Stephen Morgan MP has urged constituents to let him know their favourites and why so that they can be nominated for the national Best Small Shops Awards.

The city MP has asked Portsmouth South residents to consider a small shops’ entrepreneurial spirit, ways that they have been innovative in their business and what they have done to have a lasting positive impact on their community for the awards.

Special consideration will be given to shops that have gone above and beyond amid the public health pandemic. Constituents are also encouraged to complete the survey, the results of which will then be passed on to ‘Indie Retail’ as part of The Best Small Shops Competition.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Amid Covid-19 we have truly seen just how valuable our small shops are. Whether considering corner stores keeping homes stocked with essential supplies or book shops allowing us access to vital entertainment, we have all relied on Portsmouth’s variety of small businesses. It is important that we recognise the efforts of these small shops and thank them for going above and beyond in keeping our communities going through these tough times.

It is not just in recent months that they have been so important, Portsmouth’s thriving independent shopping scene has always been crucial to the local economy, jobs and our city’s culture. Now it’s time to do out bit to thank them for these efforts.

I encourage any local resident who has a favourite small shop in Portsmouth South to get in touch and share their story so we can ensure they receive the commendation they deserve”.

The criteria for who can be nominated is a non-corporate business selling goods or services to the public for use or consumption rather than for resale, from a business rated premises in the UK.

The national Best Small Shops Competition is open to any small shop operating in the UK. Residents can nominate their favourite businesses until Friday 11 September 2020 and a shortlist will be announced in October with winners announced in November. Those who are shortlisted are eligible for five awards including the newly launched award for small shops response to Covid-19.

You can select your favourite small shop here

 

 

 

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‘I want a city where it doesn’t matter who you are or who you love’ says city MP on Portsmouth Pride

In a message to all Portsmouth residents as the city’s Pride event is cancelled due to Covid-19, and instead replaced with an online event, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan has recorded a video message to those celebrating safely at home:

Today on Portsmouth Pride day, we must reflect on past achievements and recognise the challenges ahead.

I’m hugely proud of my party’s record on speaking up and taking action on advancing LGBT rights: abolishing the hateful Section 28; creating civil partnerships; introducing landmark legislation ending injustice and inequality; and If it wasn’t for the coronavirus crisis, I would be with you marking this year’s theme – the armed forces – as the Shadow Armed Forces Minister – proud that twenty years ago the ban was lifting on gay personnel serving.

Whilst today we can celebrate safely at home, this virtual event should also act as a reminder that there is so much more to do both here, at home, and across the globe.

Poland has declared LGBT free zones across the country. Hungary has passed a law ending legal recognition for transgender people.

Here in the UK research is telling us that the LGBT community are more vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus as Covid-19 continues to thrive on inequality.

Ministers promised to ban conversion therapy, yet a few years later, still nothing has happened.

We’re still awaiting the Government response to reforms to the Gender Recognition Act risking rowing back the progress made on trans rights.

I want a city where it doesn’t matter who you are or who you love, and I want a country which is a global leader in fighting for equality for all.

To achieve this, we must all work together. And Portsmouth Pride is helping us do just that.

We all have a part to play.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

 

 

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City MP urges Portsmouth people to help put pressure on PM over Free School Meal removal

In response to the Prime Minister’s plans to take away meals from the children of struggling families, Stephen Morgan MP has orchestrated a mass signed letter urging the Government to reconsider.

In England, 1.3 million children rely on free school meals. Normally children only get free meals from school during term-time but eligible pupils received food vouchers over Easter as the country coped with the Covid crisis. Government is threatening to take away this vital lifeline which is helping feed hungry children from family’s struggling amid the pandemic.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This government has presided over a decade of inequality and injustice that has only been enhanced by Covid-19.

To now risk taking food away from hungry children because term time has ended is counterproductive and only kicks struggling families while they are down.

Hunger doesn’t stop when kids get home. Parents know how important a healthy diet is for children – and for children from struggling families, these meals are a lifeline. Once school is out, these families’ kids will get left behind unless the PM changes his mind.”

The Department for Education said the scheme will not continue in the summer holidays, but campaigners say children in vulnerable families will go hungry. This has prompted high profile individuals such as Manchester United footballer, Marcus Rashford, to also write to all Members of Parliament about the matter.

Sustain and the Good Law Project, led by the campaigning lawyer Jolyon Maugham have also pledged that they will challenge the government’s decision in the courts if necessary, something that Stephen Morgan MP has also pledged support for.

Mr Morgan added:

“This pandemic has made the serious structural inequality in this country unmissable.

In the long-term we need the Prime Minister to lead efforts by Government to tackle the causes of child poverty. Right now, we need him to step up, show leadership, and make sure the 1.3 million children don’t go hungry this summer.

I know how important this issue is to constituents. That’s why I am urging fellow Portsmouth people to sign my open letter urging the Government to act.”

You can sign Stephen’s letter to the Prime Minister, here: https://www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/holidayhungercampaign/

 

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To save our high streets ‘the hospitality sector needs clarity’ 

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has welcomed a series of demands to urge the government to save British high streets on the day that non-essential shops in England are being allowed to reopen.

Although allowed to open from today in a further easing of coronavirus lockdown, shops have been told that they must meet Covid-19 guidelines for the safety of customers and workers.

But the official opposition has expressed concern that guidance has not been specific or clear enough on sanitising, protective equipment and other areas, and it has sounded the alarm over confusing briefings to the press.

Stephen Morgan MP is particularly worried about the challenges faced by the hospitality sector after listening to local businesses urging for sector-specific support measures.

The demands made to ministers by Labour are as follows:

  • Stop anonymous speculative briefings on social distancing guidelines. Social distancing guidelines are vital information for venues to prepare to reopen safely in respect of layout of venue and capacity of venue, both of which impact on revenue and financial decision making. Businesses will require clarity and transparency. As with other aspects of Ministers’ response to the Covid-19 crisis anonymous speculative briefings to the press are deeply unhelpful, confusing business and the public with mixed messages. Any changes to the guidelines should be led by the science and come about through a transparent and clear process.
  • Give guidance on business-critical issues such as sanitising, PPE for staff, security provision, use of toilets, the use of phone apps for ordering, vertical drinking and table service. Without this information, many business operators are struggling to plan their opening and short-term business model.
  • Set out what help will be available for operators who have to remain closed because the two-metre rule prohibits them from being able to open safely and/or it is not financially viable for them to do so.
  • Ensure furlough flexibility. Business wants clarity around the part-time furlough scheme and whether this can be brought forward. If outdoor areas are open from 22 June, this will not require a full-time complement of staff. For other businesses such as theatres, nightclubs, small indoor pubs and summer festival businesses for which social distancing makes opening not viable, the furlough top up will be impossible because they have no cash coming in.
  • Consider what flexible support can be given to other operators. For many businesses that do reopen it will be at significantly reduced capacity with higher costs such as more staff, security and PPE. They too need more flexible support.
  • Work with local authorities, take innovative action to help businesses expand operations and boost trade by reducing bureaucracy including:
    • Ensuring rapid license variations, on issues such as opening hours or setting up licensed spaces, which currently require long notice periods.
    • Reforming the operation of temporary event notices so they are not subject to time limits. Reduce five working day time limit for late temporary event notices to three working days.
    • Deregulating the sale of alcohol as part of any outdoor licensed seating area for the duration of the crisis, so that there is no requirement for separate premises licence/temporary event notice, to allow outdoor bars, or allow a fast track licensing scheme for this.
    • Enabling local authorities the ability to operate licensed spaces without going through full licence process or needing temporary event notices
  • Investigate the conversion of parking spaces and other areas into outdoor seating uses.
  • Build public confidence in going to pubs and restaurants, and the high street by ensuring the track and trace and other measures are fully in place.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We know nationally that one third of all hospitality businesses have not qualified for government grants, in particular larger employers, according to trade association UKHospitality.

The sector employs more than 3.2 million people, adding up to 10% of UK employment, and represents 6% of business and 5% of GDP.

Both nationally and locally the small businesses in our retail and hospitality sector have an important part to play in our economy. The government must finally give businesses long-overdue clarity”.

Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Business Minister, added: 

“It’s vital that ministers turn their attention to the hospitality sector, providing clarity and guidance so that businesses can plan to reopen in the coming weeks.

That means no more backroom briefings to Tory MPs, and more public advice and guidance to companies about how they can safely reopen.

Alongside this, we urge the government to publish an action plan which maximises economic viability, whilst minimising the risk to the health of customers and staff.

If they fail to act, our communities will lose much-loved pubs, bars and restaurants, and we’ll see a wave of closures and unemployment which will damage villages, towns and cities across the country.”

Pubs, clubs, restaurants, hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons will have to stay closed until at least July as close contact involves a higher risk of coronavirus transmission.

 

 

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Show support to Portsmouth’s tourism online urges says city MP in virtual English Tourism Week

Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, is showing support for the first ever “virtual” English Tourism Week, backing the industry and highlighting its importance to the local economy.

Overall the tourism industry in Portsmouth supports about 12,500 jobs and brings around £40 million to the local economy year on year. Between 2016 and 2018 an average of 658,000 domestic overnight trips were taken to Portsmouth per year, and in 2018  the top overseas tourism markets for Portsmouth were Germany, France and the Czech Republic.

English Tourism Week is an annual celebration of the tourism industry, a week dedicated to showcasing England’s tourism offer. For this year’s virtual activities, respecting lockdown restrictions, took place between 25-31 May. Stephen Morgan MP has been working with VisitEngland to shine the spotlight on the importance of tourism to the local, regional and national economy and pledge their support to the sector’s recovery.

Mr Morgan said:

“Our city boasts world-beating museums and historical assists spanning centuries, we must ensure that we all do our bit to preserve them for both the good of our city’s culture and economy.

The Mary Rose Museum, D-Day Story and other major attractions have all taken measures to allow visitors to enjoy their experiences online.

On English Tourism Week, I urge all those who are disappointed not to be out enjoying our city’s attractions to go online and see the outstanding efforts made to ensure some kind of visitor experience remains.”

VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said:

“English Tourism Week is all about highlighting the economic benefits that tourism brings to local economies, celebrating our diverse and exciting sector, and showcasing the quality, range and value of English tourism.

“While we cannot run events as usual this year, the spirit of the week has never been more important.  Tourism has been one of the first and hardest hit economic sectors due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this year’s virtual week is dedicated to showing support for the industry, the millions of people who work in it and the hundreds of thousands of businesses impacted.

“It is also about looking towards the future recovery and doing everything we can right now to ensure that tourism can bounce back to once again become one of the most successful and vibrant sectors of the economy.”

Tourism is one of England’s largest and most valuable industries, supporting hundreds of thousands of businesses, employing more than 2.6 million people and generating more than £106 billion a year for the English economy.

Stephen Morgan MP has been taking a number of steps amid this pandemic to support Portsmouth’s normally thriving tourism sector.

He has already written to Minister’s on behalf of individual museums to outline financial struggles, asked parliamentary questions on small business support available to cultural assets, and remains in communication with the management of the city’s tourism sector.

For more information about this year’s virtual English Tourism Week please see: https://www.visitbritain.org/english-tourism-week

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Portsmouth MP pleads with constituents to respect restrictions

Responding to recent concerns from constituents about anti-social behaviour and people not following social distancing guidance on Southsea Common, the Hotwalls and in parks across the constituency, ahead of the Bank Holiday Stephen Morgan MP has written an open letter to all residents urging continued ‘respect for the lockdown restrictions’.

In the personal letter, published on all social media platforms on Saturday morning, the city MP pleads with constituents by saying:

“As we approach another sunny Bank Holiday, we must redouble these efforts. If we fall at the last hurdle, we could face months more social distancing measures and run the risk of harm to our loved ones”. 

A copy of the letter can be found below:

Open letter

 

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Portsmouth MP urges people to ‘Support Local’ to help city’s small businesses get through crisis

Many small businesses across the country have been devastated by the coronavirus crisis. Whilst recognising efforts of Government and the council to offer assistance, Stephen Morgan MP is urging everyone in Portsmouth to play their part and to ‘support local’. 

In late March, the Prime Minister ordered all pubs, restaurants, gyms and other social venues across the country to close their doors for the foreseeable future, leaving many business owners and their employees at risk in Portsmouth.

While measures such as social distancing and self-isolation are vital in helping to curb the spread of the deadly disease, they have also threatened to devastate the city’s local businesses.

Despite loans, grants and practical support being available via local authorities and other bodies, many businesses have not reached out at all.

City MP Stephen Morgan has been working constructively with Ministers to ensure a package of support for companies, whilst challenging the Government to do better and act faster to protect small businesses in Portsmouth.

Lobbying the Chancellor to ensure a wide-ranging programme of help, liaising with the city council over local support, and backing campaigns to urging residents to shop and trade locally, the Portsmouth South MP has welcomed efforts by Strong Island, based in Southsea, encouraging local people to ‘Support Local and Independents’.

Throwing his weight behind this local campaign, and teaming up with ‘Small Business Britain’ the UK’s leading champion of small businesses, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Small businesses are the bedrock of our economy in Portsmouth. Helping to protect them during the coronavirus crisis protects livelihoods, protects jobs and protects our communities.

While the government and local bodies are doing their part to protect the economy, there are also plenty of ways that people can support their favourite local businesses, whether they are shops, music venues or local online stores.

Many businesses can be supported through this crisis and can be offered hope and a future for themselves, their families and their staff if we all do our bit and help them”.

There are over 5.8 million small businesses in the UK. According to Small Business Britain’s Big Support campaign, research shows that more than half (55%) of businesses have not got any advice or support for their business so far. A third (66%) are not confident in their business, and nearly 70% expect their revenues to fall by over 50%.

The city MP added:

“Businesses are at risk of running low on hope. There is support out there from financial and coaching, to advice and guidance. We all need to make sure small businesses are taking it up.

It’s undeniably tough right now and I am committed to doing everything in my power to ensure small businesses can and will get through this.

As Parliament returns from recess this week, I will continue to lobby Ministers over their plans to make sure there are no gaps in provision and the package of support for Portsmouth is as comprehensive as it needs to be.

Small businesses are the heart of our communities. Let’s all do what we can to support local and independent so that small businesses get all the support they need to survive and thrive”.

 

Sources of support as examples: