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Portsmouth MP welcomes ‘step in the right direction’ on sewage pollution

Stephen Morgan MP backs the ‘Storm Overflow Taskforce’ proposed actions to help reduce sewage pollution but says ‘more must be done’

Ahead of a meeting with Southern Water today, the Portsmouth South representative welcomed the Storm Overflow Taskforce’s announcement that they aim to end the harm caused by Storm Overflows. The actions include a number of commitments made by water companies.

Storm overflows were designed to be used during extreme weather to prevent sewers becoming overloaded with a combination of sewage and rainwater, releasing diluted wastewater into rivers rather than letting it back up into people’s homes. However climate change has led to increased rainfall and water infrastructure has not kept pace with development growth over decades.

The task force has made the following recommendations:

  • to make real-time data on sewage discharges available at bathing sites all year-round
  • to publish on their website how many times they have used CSOs to pump raw sewage into the environment each year

Stephen Morgan MP met with Southern Water today to call on the water company to do more to tackle constituents concerns over discharges into Langstone Harbour and the Solent.

The company have committed to taking forward the feedback from the city MP, promising a string of actions to ensure improvements.

Following the meeting, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Sewage pollution in our community is a serious concern not just for local water users, but all Portsmouth residents.

I welcome the taskforce’s announcement as a step in the right direction, but I know my constituents will demand further and faster action. That is why it was important to meet with Southern Water today to discuss this and other concerns in my postbag. It is reassuring our local water company rightly recognised there is more they can do.

I will be keeping a close eye on their plans, holding the Government and water companies to account, so we finally see much-needed action to tackle the long-term causes of sewage pollution”.

The Storm Overflows Taskforce was set up in August 2020 to bring together water companies, regulators and environmental NGOs to accelerate progress in this area, building on work already underway to improve our rivers and waterways.

Its work covers a series of short, medium and long-term actions focused on the goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows – a generational endeavour that will involve significant change and take time to achieve.

The city MP has vowed to continue campaigning on this alongside Surfers Against Sewage and other community activists.

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Portsmouth MP criticises government for refusing to back Labour plans to scrap cut to Universal Credit

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government tonight after it refused to support Labour’s proposal to scrap plans to strip £20 a week from 20,764 people in Portsmouth, after the Official Opposition forced a vote in the House of Commons demanding that the government scraps its planned cut to Universal Credit.

This will hit 16,434 families in Portsmouth with a cut equivalent to the cost of the average family’s annual electricity, gas and internet bills combined.

This follows the Prime Minister’s remarks at the Liaison Committee last week that he intends to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week, or £1040 a year, for 6 million families in April.

The official opposition has repeatedly called for the Prime Minister to change course and provide certainty to millions of struggling families who face a triple blow of council tax hikes, frozen pay and a cut to Universal Credit.

Child Poverty Action Group has stated the £20 uplift is essential to ensure “low-income families with children receive the support they need”. While the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned that the cut could see another 200,000 children pushed into poverty.

City MP Stephen Morgan has taken a range of actions to lobby Government to think again about the proposed cut to universal credit.

This includes writing to the Chancellor in November to urge him to reconsider the policy decision, submitting parliamentary questions to Ministers, and arranging for a motion at Portsmouth City Council to lobby Government to cancel the cut, but was not supported by local Tories.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“It is unthinkable that Conservative MPs want to push families in Portsmouth into further hardship in the midst of an economic crisis.

“What’s just as worryingly is when we discussed these Government plans at the city council, local Tory councillors stayed silent, then voted against plans to stop the Chancellor cutting this lifeline for so many local families.

“The Government’s handling of the current crisis has caused Britain to suffer the worst recession of any major economy. Now Ministers are trying to make low income families pay as a result of their incompetence. 

“Families in Portsmouth deserve support during this crisis, not cuts.”

 

 

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Stephen Morgan MP calls on the Government to support families during lockdown

Today, Stephen Morgan MP, has demanded the government give families the support they need while schools and colleges are closed to most pupils.

This follows news that the government will not be providing Free School Meals funding during February half-term, leaving 6,580 children in Portsmouth at risk of going hungry.

Labour is calling on the government to guarantee that all eligible children receive the full value of free school meals during this school year, including during all holidays.

To enable this, the government should set-up cash payments so parents can choose the spend the £15 free school meal funding on the food and supplies that are right for their children.

Children’s education is being further put at risk by the government’s failure to provide the laptops and digital access needed for remote learning. Two weeks into lockdown, 97,800 of the government’s promised laptops still have not been delivered to children across the south east.

Labour will call a vote in Parliament on Monday to ask the government to guarantee that all eligible children are getting the full value of free school meals support, including during school holidays, and have the digital access they need to learn remotely.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“The government has had no plan to support children’s education, wellbeing or futures during this pandemic.

“Cutting free school meals support and leaving children without the equipment to learn remotely in our city is simply unacceptable.

 “I will not stand by and let families be the victims of the government’s incompetence. Boris Johnson and his MPs must now do the right thing and vote to support Labour’s proposals on Monday.”

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Government must do the decent thing and ‘Cancel the Cut’ says City MP after hearing from local Citizens Advice

Stephen Morgan MP has today renewed his call for the Government’s plans to cut Universal Credit (UC) by £20 per week to be scrapped and called on others to get Ministers to ‘Cancel the Cut’

The latest intervention comes after hearing from Portsmouth Citizens Advice on the importance of the campaign and ahead of a debate on Monday in Parliament where the official opposition will force a vote by Government to justify its decision.

Contacting the city MP this week, Portsmouth Citizens Advice said:

“Every day our advisers speak to people whose lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic. Our local office is proud to have support 1207 people with Universal Credit during the crisis.  

However, the new national lockdown will further impact local people’s lives, and many will struggle if the uplift expires.

The uplift has been a vital lifeline for local people, safeguarding quality of life and helping to prevent permanent economic scarring. Citizens Advice and organisations across the country will be working together to encourage the Chancellor to keep the lifeline, as well as extend the uplift to legacy benefits”.

The total Universal Credit caseload in Portsmouth South, Morgan’s constituency, has risen to 11693 – a 108% increase since March. The changes to Universal Credit could take around £10,900,000 out of the local economy, or more if the caseload increases. 

The Portsmouth South MP has taken a range of actions in recent months to urge the Government to cancel the cut to universal credit including writing to the Chancellor in November to urge him to reconsider the policy decision, submitting parliamentary questions to Ministers, and arranging for a motion at Portsmouth City Council to lobby Government to cancel the cut, but was not supported by local Tories.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Universal Credit is a lifeline to many people in Portsmouth and across the country. Right now people are relying on it more than ever.

“Cuts to Universal Credit, especially during this time of crisis, is not only morally bankrupt, but would cause serious economic damage to our economy and its and our city’s ability to recover from this crisis.

“That’s why I am calling on the government to cancel the cut and will continue to push Ministers to make sure claimants get the support they so desperately need”.

Mr Morgan has called on the Chancellor last week to set out his wider strategy on economic support for Portsmouth as he prepares to announce his budget in March.

On Monday, during an opposition day debate, Labour will force a vote on the proposed cut to universal credit to urge the Government to think again over their plans.

On this, the city MP added:

“The Government must do the right thing on Monday, and stop the planned £20 a week, or £1000 a year, cut to Universal Credit due for April 2021, which will hit Britain’s poorest households.

“I’ll be doing the decent thing on Monday when MPs come to vote. I hope the Government do too”.

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Revealed: The striking similarities between shameful meal parcels and Government guidance

Labour today reveals that the Government’s own guidance on what should be in food parcels is strikingly similar to images circulating on social media in recent days – with less than a 50p daily difference.

It comes as Stephen Morgan MP has stepped up pressure for the Government to ensure families are getting the full value of Free School Meals support here in Portsmouth.

Ministers have described images circulating in recent days as “completely unacceptable.” The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, told the Education Select Committee that “it will not be tolerated we will not live with that.” But research from Labour suggests that the packages aren’t as far removed from Government guidance as ministers are suggesting.

Guidance written by the Department for Education and pointed to from gov.uk suggests “general principles for putting together” parcels. And the similarities between them and the images circulating are striking.

The key items missing are two ‘tins of meat’, a litre of milk and a tin of sweetcorn. A leading UK supermarket prices this at about 47p of food a day. This doesn’t include items that are not in the guidance but in the picture, such as Soreen and pasta.

Widely shared image on social media Government guidance
1 x loaf of bread 1 x loaf of bread
2 x potatoes 2 x potatoes
1 x tomato 3 x tomatoes
5 x portions of fruit 5 x portions of fruit
? x cheese portions 3 x cheese portions
1 x tin of baked beans 1 x tin of baked beans
3 x yoghurts 3 x individual serving yoghurt pots
1 x bag of pasta 1 x cucumber
2 x packets Soreen 1 x tin sweetcorn
2 x carrots 1 x bottle milk
2 x tin of meat

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

“The images that have been circulating on social media are shameful and have shocked many constituents.

“But these revelations about the Government’s own guidance as we have learnt today means that ministers’ newfound concern rings hollow. A couple of tins and a bottle of milk isn’t the difference between acceptable or unacceptable.

“I will continue to put pressure on Government to act. Many in our city were already struggling to make ends meet before this pandemic. This crisis has made life for them even harder. Portsmouth families deserve better from Ministers”.

Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s Shadow Children and Early Years Minister, added:

“The Government’s response has yet again been far too slow, with national food vouchers only becoming available from next week – two weeks after schools moved to remote learning.

“Children are going hungry now – this cannot wait.”

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Supermarket switch: Call to hand back cash to help city’s small businesses

City MP Stephen Morgan is urging Government to urgently use the £2 billion cash handed back by big supermarkets to help hard-hit small businesses in Portsmouth and those who’ve been left behind

The proposal would help city businesses affected by new Tier 3 restrictions and help save pubs and traders in the hospitality sector suffering due to inadequate support from the government.

Stephen said:

“Whilst I’ve been running a Support Local campaign to encourage people to shop safely locally, in Parliament I’m pushing for a hospitality and high streets fightback fund targeted at those firms in Portsmouth that have been hardest hit throughout the crisis. Without adequate business support pubs, cafes and restaurants around our city  risk going bust, taking with them jobs, suppliers and the life’s work of so many”.

Support Stephen’s call to set aside the big supermarkets’ £2 billion cash back to help those hardest-hit in Portsmouth? Let us know below.

I want to add my name to this petition…

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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.

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Portsmouth MP speaks up for residents against AQUIND at official planning hearing

Stephen Morgan MP today gave evidence to the Planning Inspectorate raising local residents’ concerns over the controversial AQUIND Interconnector Project that the government has deemed a ‘nationally significant infrastructure project.’

Local people, city businesses, and the city council have continually raised their fears that the project could cause major disruption to the city’s people, businesses and its wider environment.

The Portsmouth South representative has been taking action on this local issue since concerns were first raised with him in 2018.

This has included lobbying Ministers directly, submitting parliamentary questions, liaising with council officers, meeting the applicant and supporting grassroots campaigns.

The project is scheduled to take up to seven years to complete, with some constituents also troubled by reports of the applicant’s previous donations to the Conservative Party, and concerns about the project company’s financial and domiciliary arrangements.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented,

“I stand squarely behind the residents of our city that oppose plans for the AQUIND Interconnector Project.

“Portsmouth people are working together to highlight our city’s concerns over this project that will only bring major disruption to our people, businesses and local green spaces.

“Today I took the opportunity of the official hearing by the examining authority to make sure our views are heard by the Planning Inspectorate and stand up for constituents on this concerning development”.

The parliamentary representative has also today written to the Government again urging the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma MP, to take on board objections from Portsmouth.

Mr Morgan, added,

“The government must listen to the concerns of Portsmouth people on this national project.

“With the final decision for these proposals resting with Government we cannot rest on our laurels and just share objections with the Planning Inspectorate.

“I will now be taking this further and raising it with the Business Secretary again. Local concerns on this project must be heard in Westminster.”

Stephen Morgan MP has regularly taken action to amplify the voices of local residents who are concerned by the AQUIND Interconnector Project. He is working with, and supporting the Lets Stop AQUIND campaign group led by local residents Viola Langley and Paula Ann Savage.

Earlier this year, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South joined local activists in Milton for a protest against Aquind.

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Stephen Morgan MP speaks up for residents at Hearing on AQUIND

This morning (15 December 2020) Stephen Morgan MP represented constituents at a hearing of the Examining Authority of the AQUIND development, sharing concerns raised by local people, city businesses and other objectors to the national infrastructure project. 

The transcript of what the Portsmouth South MP said objecting to proposals can be found below:

I am grateful to the Examining Authority for providing this opportunity for me to represent the views of my constituents on the AQUIND development.

Since 2018 I have been listening and representing concerns of local people on this development.

I have responded to dozens and dozens of emails, messages and letters, canvassed resident’s views through survey work, met the applicant on a number of occasions and attended a public consultation.

I have since submitted formal evidence to the Examining Authority and the applicant, have written separately to Ministers and submitted parliamentary questions on this important matter for my constituents.

Today I want to reiterate resident’s concerns, as well as those of the City Council, and formally place the objection of my constituents on record for the Examining Authority.

The construction of the proposed interconnector would take up to seven years and will cause untold damage and disruption to people, businesses and our environment in Portsmouth.

The proposed corridor where trenching is due to take place threatens to disrupt key elements of transport infrastructure, including highways that act as vital arteries to our city.

The City Council believes that there will be significant disruption to residents – from noise to at anti-social hours to dust and loss of natural light – in a wide-ranging area from Farlington Avenue in the north down to Fort Cumberland Road in my constituency.

This has certainly been reinforced by those constituents I have spoken with.

This congestion and disruption will inevitably have a detrimental impact on local traders, who have already endured a year of lost revenue and unprecedented uncertainty.

It will also cause long-term disruption to Portsmouth’s valued open spaces, with the unmitigated loss of recreational space at Milton Common and Farlington Playing fields.

A season or more of play could also be lost at Farlington, Baffins and the University of Portsmouth, with few alternatives in the meantime.

In addition to the air pollution created by construction, there is a risk to our City’s precious wildlife at Milton Common.

I have raised before the threat the development poses to local allotments, which have been a lifeline for those who tend them, particularly during the pandemic.

As it stands, the planning applicant has been unable to demonstrate sufficiently to the people of Portsmouth and elected representatives any positive benefit that this scheme would bring to the City.

Throughout this process, there have been concerns about the transparency of the applicant and its apparent inability to disclose information necessary to fully assess the impact of the proposed development.

I am aware that changes have been made to the proposed route, but I know many remain concerned that more could be done to engage with those impacted by the construction and avoid the worst of its effects.

Constituents continue to be troubled by reports of the applicant’s previous donations to a political party, and concerns about the project company’s financial and domiciliary arrangements.

Whatever the apparent merits of this project may be at a national level, to ignore the overwhelmingly negative impact it would have on Portsmouth’s people, businesses and environment would be a dereliction of duty.

Ultimately, it is extremely disappointing that the decision on this proposal has been taken away from local planning authorities like the City Council, which would be much better able to reflect the views of local residents.

On behalf of residents across Portsmouth South, I would therefore like to record the objection of my constituents to this application.

I would urge you to ensure that the views raised by residents are given a strong hearing so that objections are heard loud and clear.

Thank you.”

Check against delivery.

 

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On Small Business Saturday, Labour leader hails “monumental effort” of Portsmouth businesses during pandemic

Keir Starmer has led Labour’s tributes on Small Business Saturday to local businesses in Portsmouth for their “monumental effort” during the Covid crisis.

On a visit to Portsmouth Gin Distillery – which switched to manufacturing hand sanitizer for their local area during the pandemic – the Labour Party leader called on the Government to repay the “huge sacrifices” made by small businesses by providing a proper package of support to see them through the crucial winter months.

On his visit to Portsmouth, alongside Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds and Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP, Keir Starmer praised small businesses across Portsmouth for stepping up and supporting their local community during the crisis.

The Labour Leader urged the public to support local businesses “this Saturday and beyond”, as many business owners face a fight for survival. Many businesses across the country – particularly in the hospitality sector – face continued restrictions in the run-up to Christmas without sufficient financial support from the Government.

On Monday, Keir Starmer and Anneliese Dodds hosted a webinar with hundreds of small business owners and the Small Business Saturday team. The pair took part in a Q&A with numerous businesses, committing to fight for better Government support for businesses in hard-pressed sectors like hospitality. Keir Starmer also pressed the Prime Minister to support the retail sector on Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions.

On Friday, Ed Miliband warned that hundreds of thousands of small businesses reopening this Saturday may not make it to Spring without extra government support, as new analysis revealed an estimated 390,000 small businesses are worried they won’t survive the next three months.

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party said: 

“Small businesses across Portsmouth have made a monumental effort during this crisis. They have stepped up when it was most needed, supporting their local community and making huge sacrifices to help tackle the spread of the virus. Now we must repay them.

“The Government must ensure businesses, particularly those facing the toughest restrictions, are supported to see them through the winter.

“This Small Business Saturday and beyond, we can all do our bit to stand by small businesses, by shopping safely where we live, including online, or ordering from local restaurants.

“On behalf of the Labour Party I want to celebrate the small businesses who are at the heart of our communities. We will stand by them over the crucial months ahead in fighting for the support they need.”

Commenting on Keir Starmer’s visit to Portsmouth Gin Distillery, Stephen Morgan, Labour MP for Portsmouth South, said:

“It’s great to welcome Keir and Anneliese back to Portsmouth, albeit in more challenging times, to mark Small Business Saturday. I know they both share my understanding of the value local businesses bring to our country’s prosperity.

“I’m proud that Portsmouth is a city of makers and doers, and small independent businesses give our city its soul and character. Many have shown incredible resilience throughout this pandemic.

“It is crucial that Government now provides the extra support our city needs to encourage new skills and to protect jobs and livelihoods throughout this winter period.”