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Portsmouth MP backs BBC Radio Solent’s ‘Make A Difference Awards’

Stephen Morgan MP is encouraging Portsmouth residents to nominate community heroes for this year’s BBC Radio Solent’s ‘Make A Difference Awards’, as part of a new award scheme being run by every local BBC radio station in England.

‘Make A Difference’ was first set up at the start of the first pandemic lockdown and is a virtual notice board for those offering help and those needing support.  To date over 8 million people have interacted across all 39 local BBC radio stations.

Categories cover the unsung heroes of every community from great neighbours, inspirational teachers, awesome volunteers or even outstanding key workers.

There are eight award categories (listed below), nominations are now open and will close on the 29 April 2022 at 11pm.

The categories are:

  • Volunteer Awarded to an individual who makes a real difference to the community by giving up their time voluntarily to help out a charity or good cause.
  • Community Group

Awarded to a group of people who have helped to genuinely change the lives of others within the community,

  • Fundraiser

Awarded to an individual or group of people who have gone the extra mile to raise funds for a charity or good cause.

  • Carer

Awarded to someone who improves the life of an individual or group of people by caring for them on a regular basis.

  • Great Neighbour

Awarded to an individual or group of people who help to make the neighbourhood or local community a better place to live or work, either on a regular basis or through a single act of kindness.

  • Key Worker

Awarded to a key worker who’s gone above and beyond their call of duty to help others.

  • Environmental Award

Awarded to an individual or group of people who help to make where we live more environmentally friendly.

  • The Together Award

Awarded to an individual or group of people who create real change by breaking down barriers and bringing together people from different walks of life for a common cause.

The winners will be announced at our Make a Difference awards hosted by BBC Radio Solent at a ceremony on September 20th at Portsmouth Guildhall.

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

“After an unprecedented two years of challenges for communities across Portsmouth and our region, it’s important we recognise those who went above and beyond for their local areas during such as difficult period.

“That’s why I’m calling on everyone in our city to get involved in BBC Radio Solent’s ‘Make a Difference Awards’.

“From unsung community heroes and volunteers, to our fantastic teachers and frontline workers, there’s a wide range of categories to choose from.

“Nominations close in a few days’ time, so make sure to get them in soon!”

Chris Burns, Head of Audio and Digital for BBC England, also said: 

“The last two years have been challenging for everyone.  Listeners have contacted us to share the stories of how people have helped each other, and we wanted to find a way of celebrating those unsung heroes and telling those amazing stories.”

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Portsmouth MP backs Guide Dogs’ “All Things Equal” campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has pledged his support to children and young people with a vision impairment through Guide Dogs’ “All Things Equal” campaign.

At a Parliamentary event hosted by the charity Guide Dogs, the Portsmouth MP met children, young people and their families to talk about the challenges they face in the education system.

Recent research conducted for Guide Dogs found that 69% of teachers lack confidence that they have the right skills to support disabled children, including those with a vision impairment, to reach their full potential.

This is reflected in outcomes for children with sight loss, who are significantly behind their peers in terms of academic attainment.

Guide Dogs’ “All Things Equal” campaign is calling for greater recognition of vision impairment throughout the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) system. The critical role of specialist professionals needs to be prioritised, and more support should be given at an earlier stage to help prevent young people with sight loss from falling behind.

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

“It was a pleasure to join Guide Dogs charity, families and dogs to hear about its All Things Equal campaign in Parliament this week.

“80% of our learning is through sight and that’s why children with sight loss in Portsmouth and across the country need specialist support and services.

“Yet all too often children with sight loss are not being given the adjustments they need. I will continue to speak up in Parliament to secure the support children with sight loss need.”

Blanche Shackleton, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Guide Dogs said:

“Children and young people with vision impairment tell us they want to grow up enjoying the same opportunities as their classmates. But all too often, they are being let down by the education system that fails to give them the support they need.

“We know that the lack of support in childhood can have a far-reaching impact. Just one in four working age adults with a vision impairment are in employment.

“That is why we are calling on the Government to make all things equal for children and young people with vision impairment, so that they have access to the support they need.”

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Banning Conversion Therapy: City MP responds

In recent days a number of constituents have contacted me about their views on conversion therapy.

I am deeply concerned about the Government’s broken promises on this and similar issues and have long been a supporter of banning conversion therapy.

I am committed to ensuring LGBT+ people can live in safety and dignity. I believe all forms of conversion therapy must be banned as a matter of urgency. They are exploitative and damaging.

Last year, I wrote to the Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss MP, urging her to ensure a ban on conversion therapy.

I underlined that if we must eradicate this insidious form of homophobic, bi-phobic, transphobic and acephobic abuse, we need a legislative ban to make conversion therapy illegal.

What we saw last week was the actions of a rudderless government. First we saw the government u-turn on its promise to ban conversion therapy. Then hours later, it said it would, but not for transgender conversion therapies. Now, the government’s LGBT+ business champion has resigned over the decision not to ban conversion therapy for transgender people.

But while it is expected the government will announce a ban on gay conversion therapy in the Queen’s Speech, there will not be one for trans conversion therapy.

This is not only wholly unacceptable, but government has offered no clear explanation for why it’s gone back on its original position. It is yet another betrayal by Ministers of an already marginalised group that they have left behind.

However, I am also very concerned that it has already taken more than three years to even get to this point, and unfortunately the proposals are far from comprehensive.

Loopholes appear to leave the door ajar for people to ‘consent’ to conversion therapy on religious grounds. This is unacceptable. Government must divert its energies to listening to survivors of these harmful practices and the wider LGBT+ community, not those wishing to allow conversion therapy to continue.

I believe that it is high time that legislation is introduced, such as protection orders for people who are vulnerable to pressure to suppress, deny or forcibly change their sexuality or gender identity.

There is a broad consensus from faith leaders across the diversity of faith communities in the UK that conversion therapy is abuse and in December 2020, a significant cross-faith conference of leaders supported a ban on conversion therapy.

I am aware that the Government is seeking to launch a phone helpline for victims of conversion therapy. However, overall the Government has made very slow progress. For instance, it is still yet to confirm whether it will be going ahead with its LGBT Action Plan.

Please be assured that I will continue to do what I can to hold the Government to account on its commitments and to ensure the LGBT+ community can live their lives with equality, dignity and respect.

Stephen Morgan MP

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Portsmouth MP will vote to ban fire & rehire and for P&O Ferries to reinstate its workforce

Stephen Morgan MP is set to vote with Labour today, demanding that P&O Ferries reinstates its workforce and for fire and rehire to be outlawed.

The mass sackings without notice last week caused outrage nationwide, amid reports suggested security firms with balaclavas and handcuffs were used to take sacked British workers off the vessels.

The Conservative Government was made aware of the sackings before it was announced, and of the plan to use fire and rehire.

Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, Louise Haigh MP, has called this moment “a line in the sand” and later today Labour will stage a vote demanding the Tories outlaw fire and rehire, strengthen workers’ rights and take tough action to force the company to think again.

Labour called on the government to:

  • Outlaw fire and rehire and bring forward an urgent bill to strengthen workers rights.
  • Suspend the contracts of DP World – the owner of P&O Ferries – until this matter is resolved
  • Remove DP World from the UK Government’s Transport Advisory Group where they were appointed by the now Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, “to provide knowledge, experience and strategic expertise” on trade negotiations.

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

“I will fight every step of the way for the jobs and livelihoods of these loyal workers.

“This scandalous action must be a line in the sand. If P&O Ferries can get away with this, it will give the green light to other exploitative employers.

“That’s why I’m voting to ban fire and rehire for good and am calling on Government to suspend licenses and contracts of P&O Ferries and DP World and reinstate these grossly mistreated workers.

“I will continue to work alongside trade unions to campaign for the outlawing of draconian fire and rehire practices.”

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City MP helps launch new campaign to promote ‘World-class’ Portsmouth attractions

Stephen Morgan MP spoke at the launch of a new city campaign at Spinnaker Tower on Thursday evening to boost visitors to the city and mark the start of English Tourism Week.

The new campaign includes an events guide highlighting everything happening this year from international spectacles like Victorious Festival and the Great South Run to smaller community events such as the Live at the Bandstand, King George V fireworks display and Heritage Open Days.

The council is also partnering with South Western Railways to showcase Portsmouth on landmark digital billboards at London Waterloo Station and will be attending a number of trade events in the capital during English Tourism Week, 18-27 March.

Attractions across the city are getting behind the push with a range of special offers during the week including £30 off an ultimate explorer ticket at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard; 20% discount at Exploria; special offers on a range of performances at Portsmouth Guildhall and 20% off Hover travel tickets.

Portsmouth residents can also get 25% discount on a visit to the Spinnaker Tower or 40% off entry to D-Day Story. More information on all the special offers can be found by searching “English Tourism Week” at www.visitportsmouth.co.uk

Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, said:

“Portsmouth has world class attractions like the historic dockyard and D-Day Story and I’m delighted to see local efforts made to promote our city to a wider audience.

“Our tourist, cultural and historic attractions are increasingly the envy of the world and a source of national pride.

“So as we mark this English Tourism Week, I’m calling on local people to redouble our efforts to shout about what our city has to offer, and to use our assets as a symbol of the kind of city and country we are now and aspire to be in the future.”

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World Social Work Day: Portsmouth MP urges action to tackle social workers leaving ‘important’ profession

Stephen Morgan MP thanked social workers for the important role that they carry out as the city marked World Social Work Day yesterday, for their role in supporting people with additional needs and through difficult periods in their life.

The City MP also, however, stressed that the Government must take action to tackle the number of social workers leaving or planning to leave the profession. This is in response to a report published by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) which found that increasing workloads due to the pandemic has exacerbated working conditions in social work, which is driving staff to leave.

These fears arise despite more than 60% of respondents to BASW’s survey saying that they were “happy working in the social work profession”. The survey was the first of BASW’s annual state of social work survey, which unveils a picture of increasing caseloads across adults and children’s services against a backdrop of long-term underfunding of social services.

Echoing a concerning outlook on social worker retention, the Department of Education’s Children’s social work workforce statistics, released last week, shows the number of children and family social workers leaving during 2021 was 4,995, up by 16% compared to 2020 and the highest number in the last 5 years.

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

“Social workers go above and beyond for so many vulnerable people, but the working conditions they are facing are unsustainable and unfair.

“Social workers need rest, balance and support. If they do not receive them, we cannot be surprised that people in the profession are burning out or leaving.

“As we marked World Social Work Day this week, the best way we can thank Portsmouth social workers is for the Government to take urgent action on working conditions so that we can encourage social workers to stay in the profession.”

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Statement from Stephen Morgan MP on Aquind’s decision to launch a Judicial Review

Reacting to Aquind’s launch of an application for a Judicial Review against government’s decision to not approve the interconnector project, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

Aquind’s desperate decision to apply for a Judicial Review changes nothing. The facts remain that it would bring untold disruption to our city, but offers no clear local benefits.

“At a time of widespread calls to clean up alleged dirty-money in Britain linked to Putin’s Russia, this application is not worth the paper it is written on. I am continuing to work alongside local campaigners and I will be monitoring Aquind’s challenge closely as it develops.

“Portsmouth is united in its opposition against Aquind. Government was right to finally arrive at the correct decision to not approve it. Whatever the outcome of this application, this remains the case.”

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Labour’s plan to keep energy bills low will save 30,000 Portsmouth households up to £600 – City MP

Stephen Morgan MP has said Labour’s plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis could save over 30,000 Portsmouth households up to £600 a year.

To address the immediate crisis, the Official Opposition has said it would bring in fully funded measures now to reduce the expected price rise in April.

Labour said it would also increase and expand the Warm Home’s Discount, targeting extra support to the squeezed middle, pensioners and the lowest earners, and preventing all of the increase in energy bills currently expected.

Labour would pay for this plan with a one-off windfall tax on North Sea Oil and Gas producers who have profited from price rises.

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

“Families and businesses in our city are facing an energy price crisis because a decade of failed Conservative energy policy has left us deeply vulnerable as a country. Labour wants to stop bills going up.

“That’s why we would give families security by taking fully-funded measures to save most households around £200 or more.

“We’d also target extra support on top of that for the squeezed middle, pensioners and lowest earners – saving over 30,000 households in Portsmouth up to £600 off their bills in total.

“Portsmouth families deserve far better, not more dither and delay from this Tory government.”

The Portsmouth MP recently launched his campaign calling for VAT on energy bills to be scrapped. To sign up, visit: https://www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/sign-up-scrapping-vat-on-energy-bills/

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Keeping HMRC in Portsmouth: City MP responds

Responding to the announcement that HMRC will keep a presence in Portsmouth and the city will become of the regional hubs, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I welcome HMRC’s commitment to establish a regional centre in Portsmouth, and potentially retain Lynx House, although I will be seeking urgent clarification about what this means for jobs.
“I have long-argued that closing Lynx House would be a disaster for local people and our city’s economy. That’s why I have been lobbying Ministers to protect these jobs from government cuts, liaising with trade unions, meeting with staff affected and raising concerns in Westminster.
“At a time when workload was due to rise five-fold, the threat to close Lynx House showed poor foresight and planning. I am pleased our city will now be one of the government’s regional centres.”
The MP has been campaigning alongside PCS to keep the presence in Portsmouth and protect local jobs.
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Aquind Stopped: Portsmouth MP responds

Responding to the Secretary of State’s decision to stop the Aquind interconnector project going ahead, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, said: 

“The government have finally seen sense and stopped the disastrous Aquind project.

“This is a victory for the people of Portsmouth over years of uncertainty and Tory cronyism.

“I pay tribute to local campaigners who have helped me lead our City’s united opposition.

“I will continue to raise questions about how Conservative ministers came so close to allowing party donors facing corruption allegations to control a national infrastructure project.

“Without our efforts, this would not have been possible. Together, we have stopped Aquind.”

The Portsmouth South MP has long opposed the Aquind interconnector project, working alongside the Let’s Stop Aquind grassroots group.

Since his election he has grilled Ministers in Parliament, secured a dedicated debate on the issue, attended protests alongside local campaigners and met the project company to discuss concerns.

In September, Mr Morgan submitted a 6,200 signature petition to Parliament calling on the Business Secretary to scrap the project.

Mr Morgan has also consistently raised concerns about the project company’s concerningly opaque structure and finances.

Media reports from the BBC and Guardian revealed that Aquind owner Viktor Fedotov benefited from a $4bn alleged fraud in Russia. This seems to have been achieved through a complex scheme that funnelled government cash through layers of shell companies that were ultimately owned by Mr Fedotov.

Similar concerns have been raised about Aquind’s finances, with little information available about where its money is coming from, who is providing it, or whether similar complex financial structures are being used to hide this.

Mr Fedotov had been able to remain completely anonymous as the company’s owner using a rare exemption in corporate transparency rules, until his identity was revealed following an investigation by The Times in August 2020. Why this anonymity was necessary is not clear.

Aquind’s public face, Alexander Temerko, has also conducted a coordinated and concerted effort to influence British political figures.

Since the project started, Temerko has donated £700,000 to the Conservative Party. In addition to this, research done by the BBC has revealed that Mr Fedotov’s businesses have donated a further £700,000 to 34 MPs and their local parties. This includes a string of current and former Ministers in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Secretary of State was asked directly on Andrew Marr on 10 October if he was in favour of the project. He replied, “I have never commented on this specific project”.

However, letters obtained by The Times through a Freedom of Information request show the Mr Kwarteng indicated both his and the government’s support for the project when he was Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth.