, , , , ,

Together we can, and we will, stop AQUIND

Attending the against AQUIND human chain today in Milton, a Covid-safe protest organised by local people, city MP Stephen Morgan said:

In the week of clean air day, when the council withdrew crucial roads from a scheme to reduce dirty air and rowed back on its climate emergency commitment, it’s humbling to see so many Portsmouth people coming together to stop the AQUIND development. 

Portsmouth’s green and open spaces are precious. The developer’s plans do nothing to benefit our city, only cause disruption to our environment and to our daily lives. 

Thank you to the grassroots group that organised today’s event. Together we can, and we will, stop this”.

To find out more about the Portsmouth South MP’s long-running work helping residents oppose the AQUIND interconnector proposals click here.

 

 

 

, , , , , ,

City MP backs ‘Walk to School Week’ campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has backed national campaign ‘Walk to School Week’, organised by UK charity Living Streets. 

The campaign aims to encourage families to try healthier and greener ways to travel to school. Starting today, school children across the UK will be taking part in a safe and socially distanced walk to school with other students and parents.

According to the charity, 70 per cent of children walked to school a generation ago, now it is less than half.

The government has set a target in its Cycling to Walking Investment Strategy to get 55% of primary school pupils walking to school by 2025, to tackle this issue.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“I’m delighted to support this fantastic initiative to encourage children and parents to take part in a safe and socially distanced walk to school, and I urge our local schools to take part in this too.”

Many of us have spent more time indoors recently, so I’m really proud to support this campaign that offers both a greener option, and a way for both students and parents to get the fresh air and exercise they need to support their mental wellbeing through this difficult period.”

The Chief Executive of Living Streets, Mary Creagh, added,

“Walking to school is a fun and easy way for to get active. We need safer streets so more families have confidence to walk to school.”

, , , , ,

Portsmouth MP urges residents to make concerns known to Planning Inspectorate over AQUIND proposals

Stephen Morgan MP is urging residents to urgently make concerns known to the Planning Inspectorate over the controversial £1.2bn AQUIND interconnector project which would affect communities across the eastern side of the city.

The scheme has been heavily criticised by the MP and city council for failing to properly consider alternative routes for underground cables or the act on the views of residents.

The city MP has been taking a range of actions in opposition to the proposals. Efforts to date have included submitting a string of parliamentary questions; highlighting to national newspapers the backers’ huge donations and support to the Conservatives; undertaking a survey to hear views; meeting the company to raise city concerns; putting pressure on Ministers to take action; and; working with residents to submit objections.

The latest set of actions by the Portsmouth South representative follows concerns that have been raised over potential plans affecting local allotments. Constituents share Stephen’s worries that latest plans would involve digging up and laying of cables under the Milton Allotments off Locksway Road

Encouraging residents to voice their concerns by objecting to the Planning Inspectorate, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Since hearing about the AQUIND project, I have been taking action on behalf of Portsmouth residents.

Despite asking repeatedly how the £1.2bn scheme would benefit our city, it is very clear to me it will only disrupt residents’ lives and put our precious natural environment and green spaces at risk.

That is why I continue to lobby in the strongest possible terms for constituents against this infrastructure project.

Whilst I continue to welcome the council’s liaison with the developers, it is vital our views in Portsmouth are heard. I therefore urge residents to make sure the Planning Inspectorate knows the strength of feeling from our city on this issue of concern”.

Local ward campaigners Paula Ann Savage and Craig Withey have created a template email for any residents to object to proposals to Government decision-makers, ahead of the deadline of 6 October 2020. It is understood planning hearings are due to take place in December, after various submissions have been delivered.

To get a copy of the objection template and who to send it to, email Portsmouth Labour at hello@portsmouthlabourparty.org.uk. Alternatively constituents should email views directly to aquind@planninginspectorate.gov.uk

Further information 

To find out more about some of Stephen Morgan MP’s actions and views over AQUIND see the links below.

Taking action over environmental impact:

https://www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/city-mp-holds-government-minister-to-account-over-environmental-impacts-of-aquind/

Speaking out over owners’ donations to the Conservatives:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/name-russian-tycoon-behind-power-company-say-top-tories-0vqb0vw8g

See also: https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/business/aquind-director-alexander-temerko-says-he-has-zero-political-influence-2944874

Putting pressure on Government to act:

https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/politics/portsmouth-south-mp-demands-answers-government-over-aquind-plans-2000905?amp

Listening to constituents’ concerns over the company’s proposals:

https://www.portsmouthlabourparty.org.uk/portsmouth-labour-news/2020/03/01/have-your-say-on-aquind/

A website created by the city council, although some of the pages are out of date:

https://interconnectorportsmouth.co.uk/#about-project

 

 

 

, , , , ,

City MP backs local Portsmouth charity’s ‘Shrink the elephant’ campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has backed Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service’s (PARCS) campaign to ‘shrink the elephant’, that aims to raise awareness of issues surrounding sexual abuse and challenge cultural norms that perpetuate abuse.

The charity argues sexual abuse can sometimes feel like the elephant in the room, and believes we all have the power to ‘shrink the elephant’.

The campaign comes as part of PARCS’ wider initiative ‘Project Catalyst’, that seeks to support and empower local young women in Portsmouth to become leaders in the reduction of violence and abuse against women and girls.

Stephen Morgan MP commented:

“I am proud to support PARCS’ important campaign to highlight the challenges survivors of sexual violence and domestic/sexual abuse face everyday.

The work of the entire team of PARCS and Project Catalyst is truly inspiring and I am keen to do all I can to offer the support they need.”

It was reported in late July that more than 40,000 calls and contacts were made to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline during the first three months of lockdown, most by women seeking help.

In June, calls and contacts were nearly 80% higher than usual, according to charity Refuge, which runs the helpline.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, added:

“I’m deeply concerned by the recent figures that have shown a worrying spike in cases of domestic abuse nationally, particularly during lockdown.

“As we head into the winter period and the risk of a second lockdown looms, it is incredibly vital these issues experienced both here in Portsmouth and nationally are raised in Parliament, and I will be doing just that in the coming weeks.”

Mr Morgan went to visit PARCS in his constituency ofPortsmouth South earlier this month, and has previously written to the Home Secretary earlier this year, highlighting the rise of domestic abuse in the UK during lockdown.

 

 

, , , , , ,

City MP reacts to ‘disappointing’ new court ruling stating pension age changes are not discriminatory

News has broken that the three senior judge’s ruling on the Court of Appeal challenge have found that despite feeling sympathy for WASPI campaigners, the state pension age did not amount to unlawful discrimination under EU or human rights law.

Committed WASPI supporter, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It is highly disappointing that millions of women born in the 1950s have lost the Court of Appeal Challenge today, ruling that raising the state pension age did not amount to unlawful discrimination.

This is yet another kick in the teeth for a grassroots movement of inspiring women who have been fighting tooth and nail for justice.

The ruling is deeply disheartening, but we must not lose sight of who is responsible for the origins of this severe injustice. The way in which the Conservative Government has implemented the 1995 State Pension Act has caused turmoil for hundreds of thousands of people, hitting the most vulnerable hardest.

I have had the privilege of working with Portsmouth’s campaigners on this important issue for some time and will continue to support them in their fight for justice.”

Stephen Morgan MP has been a long-time supporter of the WASPI campaign. He has hosted local rallies, held meetings up in parliament, raised the issue through parliamentary questions, and regularly meets with local Solent WASPI organisers.

 

 

, , ,

BLM event: The need to stand up for justice, equality and humanity

Statement from Stephen Morgan MP for Black Lives Matter protest on Statement 12 September 2020 in Portsmouth Guildhall Square:

“The Black Lives Matter movement in Portsmouth have been relentless in demanding change.

While I cannot be there physically with you today, know that stand I with you, in solidarity.

It has now been 140 days since the tragic killing of George Floyd.

It is vital that those in public office can offer more than just words when it comes to looking at progress since then. Working we others, we have made a start.

  • putting forward a motion and an amendment at full council to combat structural racism – which successfully passed
  • putting pressure on Ministers to halt the sale of riot control equipment to the USA, to prevent it being used against BLM protestors
  • working with ‘The Black Curriculum’ I have lobbied the Education Secretary to make Black History a core module
  • And, I am supporting Baroness Lawrence’s review into the disproportionate effect of Covid on BAME communities and will fight for the recommendations to be implemented

We must recognise that George Floyd’s killing was not a one-off event. The violence and structural racism that led to his death still exists. And it must be drummed out. Part of that recognition, is understanding Britain’s role in the systematic racism that we see today.

The Black Lives Matter movement is just as important here as it is across the Atlantic. And that is why I commend your efforts today.

We must continue to work together, demanding change and pushing for progress.

There is still a great deal of work we must do. I look forward to continuing to fight alongside you in bringing about the changes that our communities need.

So, on behalf of Portsmouth I thank you for standing up for justice, equality and humanity”.

, , , ,

City MP pays tribute to the Merchant Navy on Merchant Navy Day for its historic and continued efforts

Stephen Morgan MP has marked Merchant Navy Day by paying tribute to the Merchant Navy for its historic and continued contribution to the UK and its operations around the world.

The Merchant Navy is the collective term for commercial shipping and includes a variety of vessels from cruise ships to tankers and cargo ships of all description.

According to the charity Seafarers UK, the maritime community charity, merchant seafarers are responsible for more than 90% of the UK’s imports, including almost half of the food we eat, much of the fuel we use, and virtually all the products and goods we tend to take for granted.

Mr Morgan commented,

“The Merchant Navy has played a critical role in our nation’s history, from keeping us going through both world wars, to today in continuing to support our overseas trade around the world.

“Today on Merchant Navy Day it’s important we recognise and pay thanks to our Merchant Navy for all that they do and ensure that their efforts are never taken for granted.”

Seafarers UK are campaigning for the fifth year running for the Red Ensign – the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag – to be flown on 3rd September on civic buildings and landmark flagpoles. Parish, community, town, city, district and borough councils were all invited to take part, along with higher-tier local authorities and governments.

The Portsmouth South MP added,

“I’m proud to support Seafarers UK’s campaign to encourage the Red Ensign to be proudly flown from civic buildings and landmarks across our country – including in Portsmouth.

“It’s crucial the efforts of our Merchant Navy are understood and recognised by communities throughout our nation, and it’s why I’m delighted to be supporting this brilliant initiative that plays a part in doing just that.”

, , , , , ,

City MP voices concern over local NHS services being hit hardest by new Tory staff charges

Portsmouth’s NHS services have been spending millions of pounds a year on government charges to bring in much-needed staff from abroad making it the worst-hit area in the country, damning new figures have revealed.

Figures show that Portsmouth has been the hardest hit by this new Tory Immigration Skills Charge. Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust had paid the most out of any NHS trust in the UK – £2,007,000 since 2017, while in 2019/2020 Solent NHS Trust was forced to fork out £5,000.

The stats are even more eye-watering when compared to other trusts across the country. In the Conservative MP for Ribble Valley’s local Lancashire Care Trust, the total charges amounted to £115,000 – meaning Portsmouth paid £1,892,000 more in the same time. In the Tory held constituency, the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust also paid £2,592 – a figure incomparable with the costs faced by Portsmouth.

The full breakdown of Portsmouth NHS Trust charges is:

2017/18: £306,000         

2018/19: £655,000         

2019/20: £972,000         

2020/21: £74,000

Total: £2,007,000

Paying tribute to NHS staff, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Our NHS staff have shown unprecedented heroism amid this pandemic, putting others before themselves and selflessly working for our community. Through regular meetings with the Portsmouth Hospital Trust, I know their ingenuity has allowed them to have one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country. It is wholly unjust that their reward for demonstrating such robust planning is disproportionately high staff charges.

While Ministers clap for health workers each evening on their doorsteps, behind closed doors they have been charging NHS trusts millions simply for employing much needed foreign staff. This is punishing our NHS for government’s failure to properly recruit.

The fact Portsmouth has been worst hit shows that time after time our community is forced to disproportionately bear the brunt of regressive, costly Tory policy.”

The city MP also stated that despite the additional charges faced by the Portsmouth Hospital Trust, he has no doubt that they will ‘continue to excel in serving the needs of patients’.

Shadow Immigration Minister, Holly Lynch MP said:

“Local NHS trusts require specialists from overseas, yet the Tories are punishing hospital budgets for their own failure to train enough skilled staff,”

“The irrationality of the immigration skills charge for NHS trusts has been underlined by the coronavirus pandemic.”

“The Conservative Government should be doing all they can to support the NHS. Instead, they are presenting trusts with an unenviable choice: either leave life-saving specialist roles unfilled, or fork out expensive fees for overseas staff.”

Analysis of data released under Freedom of Information laws to the Labour Party suggested that since 2017, 52 trusts paid £15,549,944 to the Government through the immigration skills charge.

The charge is referred to as the immigration skills charge and is imposed by the Home Office on any employer wanting to apply for a visa for someone to work in the UK for six months or more under either a tier 2 (general) visa or a tier 2 (intra-company transfer) visa.

 

 

, , , , ,

Stephen Morgan MP backs crowdfund for local start-up ‘Squidmoo’ to make Portsmouth plastic free

Stephen Morgan MP has backed Squidmoo, a local start-up that is running a crowdfunding campaign to create sustainable everyday products, in its mission to help make Portsmouth plastic free.

Squidmoo’s long-term vision is to be able to provide grants to support local businesses, charities and organisations to become plastic free and be part of the ‘plastic free employer scheme’. However, this is reliant on the stretch fund being successful to be able to invest into this part of the project.

Squidmoo has also been working in close partnership with Portsmouth City Council in supporting its plans and future project ideas.

The Portsmouth business currently manufactures bamboo and stainless-steel water bottles and lunch containers, as well as yoga mats, knives and sunglasses. In addition, the sustainable business is also looking to provide local businesses and organisations with plastic free consultations and workshops.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

The work that both Thomas and Alex are doing is simply fantastic. What they and Squidmoo are doing is an important reminder that whilst we are facing a new global challenge, it does not mean the others have simply disappeared.

“It is why I’m more than happy to back their campaign to reduce the use of single use plastic to zero in the UK by 2030, and their crowdfund to help achieve this here in our great city of Portsmouth.”

According to a government report, in the UK it is estimated that five million tonnes of plastic is used every year, nearly half of which is packaging. The government had planned to bring in a ban on single use plastic earlier this April, including single-use plastic and plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds, but has now delayed the ban until October due to the pandemic.

The Portsmouth South MP added:

“Sustainability and tackling climate change are now more important than ever, and Portsmouth South is neither insulated to the effects of climate change, nor has less of a responsibility to tackle its causes than anywhere else.

“Instead of delaying, the government should be seeing this period as an opportunity to hit the reset button and quite simply: build back better.”

This is not the first time Mr Morgan has been an advocate of tackling climate change initiatives, including previously hosting online climate change event Time is Now, and backed the local Pompey Street Space campaign.

You can find out more about Squidmoo’s work and their crowdfunder here.

, , , , , ,

City MP continues to fight for renters as government’s last minute U-turn on eviction ban causes confusion for tenants

Stephen Morgan MP has made renewed calls on government to protect renters from eviction as Ministers extend the ban on evictions by just one month

The Portsmouth South representative had originally called on Government back in March to ban evictions during the coronavirus crisis. Whilst Ministers caved following pressure, they are now threatening to take away this safety net in just one month.

In a cutting letter directly to the Housing Secretary, the city MP demanded an extension to the eviction ban along with a package of support for struggling tenants. This came as a survey by Generation Rent is released revealing that 45% of renters have lost income since March, and two thirds of renters who have lost income (68%) are struggling to pay their rent.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The Housing Secretary promised that no one would be forced to leave their homes amid this pandemic. Now, five months later, we see no package of support offered to tenants yet plans remain to reinstall evictions in one month.

We know that many hardworking Portsmouth families have been hit hard by the pandemic and, through no fault of their own, have found themselves in arrears. While I welcome government’s U-turn on the evictions ban extension today, the fact they have only extended it by a month just gives tenants longer to pack their bags.

The solution to this problem is more comprehensive support offered to struggling families at risk of homelessness and scrapping Section 21 Evictions.”

Mr Morgan’s demands, backed by frontbench colleagues, urge government to remove the benefits cap, administer Universal Credit more promptly and make more Local Housing Allowance available. The city MP has also raised with Ministers the impact on landlords after listening to concerns from the National Residential Landlords Association.