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City MP praises work of popular ‘Pompey Pirate Ship’ Literacy Hub

Stephen Morgan MP has praised the work of the Pompey Pirate Ship for its role in the city’s popular Literacy Hub scheme.

Visiting Pompey Pirate Ship with Northern Parade Junior School today, the Portsmouth MP saw first-hand with and Labour councillor Charlotte Gerada how the project works with children to get better at reading and writing (literacy), as well as finding a newfound passion for them outside of the classroom.

Workshops usually involve writing stories, diaries or film scripts, providing a fun and exciting way to encourage students to use their imagination. Each term, pupils will turn their writing work into a published book, film or even a radio show.

Pompey Pirates Literacy was first launched in September 2020 in the Charles Dickens Ward, where there is a high level of child poverty.

Government data shows only 67% of 10–11-year-olds in Portsmouth are meeting the expected reading level, 6% lower than the national average.

Despite this, Pompey Pirate Ship has become so popular that it is now already recruiting volunteers for a second ‘ship’, so it can continue to expand and reach more of the city’s children.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Schools Minister, Stephen Morgan, said:

“Pompey Pirate Ship has come on leaps and bounds since its launch back in 2020, and it’s fantastic to see the work it’s continuing to provide to Portsmouth children.

“It’s so important young people are able to enjoy and understand the power of reading and writing. Pompey Pirate Ship’s original approach to make learning fun is having an enormous impact on our city and I am so grateful to them for their efforts.

“I’m pleased to learn the scheme is looking for more volunteers as it continues to grow, so I highly recommend to those who may be interested to come down and get involved.

“Getting the next generation reading for the future is vital and I will continue to support projects working to secure the best outcomes for children in Portsmouth and across the country.”

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Portsmouth MP questions Ministers on national support for ‘vital services’ like Fratton’s MAKE

Stephen Morgan MP questioned Ministers in the House of Commons today on how the government is supporting social enterprises like Fratton’s MAKE, that have supported vulnerable people during the pandemic.

During Men’s Health Week last year, the Portsmouth MP paid a visit to ‘Breakfast OK’, held at Fratton-based social enterprise MAKE, which offers a chance for men to meet up and have a chat, rant or simply share their experiences with others in a relaxed environment over breakfast.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, in England, around one in eight men has a common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

But social enterprises across the country are demonstrating their resilience in helping to tackle social issues. In spite of acute challenges, including difficulties accessing support, Social Enterprise UK says 65% are now expecting to retain their position or grow (compared to all SMEs who experienced around 50% turnover growth in the last 12 months), and only 1% expect to close (compared to 11% of business as a whole).

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

“Social Enterprises like MAKE are doing vital work to support communities through the pandemic and are showing they have an important role to play in providing services that many vulnerable people depend on.

“Government is failing to recognise this, and these organisations are being held back by the lack of support from Ministers.

“I will continue to push for the support MAKE and others deserve in Westminster to ensure those who need help get the support they require as we recover from Covid-19.”

Breakfast OK runs every Saturday from 10am-12pm at MAKE, 1 Cornwall Rd, Fratton, PO1 5AA.

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A new contract for Britain: Keir Starmer’s speech

Today, Keir Starmer set out his contract for a new Britain.

After over a decade of Conservative rule, there is a cost of living crisis. This government has lost its grip and working people are paying the price.

People’s cost of living continues to increase while wages stagnate – and the country will be hit unfair tax hikes in April.

The Leader of the Opposition said this is Labour’s moment to set out our vision for a new Britain. A country built on the guarantee of security, prosperity and respect for all.

  • Security: Labour will ensure that you feel safe in your neighbourhood and that our NHS is there for you when you need it.
  • Prosperity: We will give everyone the skills they need to prosper and opportunity to thrive.
  • Respect: We will create a country where everyone feels valued for who you are and what you do.

Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer said:

“We need a country led by a Labour government; fit for the challenges we face – rebuilding after the pandemic, making Brexit work and tackling the climate crisis head on.

Local elections are on the horizon and we have the opportunity to demonstrate to communities across the country that where the Government turns its back, Labour provides solutions. Let’s get to work – it’s time for a new Britain, it’s time for Labour”.

Examples of what this contract for Britain will mean in practice

Policing and crime prevention

Labour will provide crime prevention teams in every neighbourhood. New Police Hubs will be visible in every community. We will introduce a tough new approach to closing down drug dens with new powers for local police and local authorities.

Police hubs

In every community blighted by anti-social behaviour there will be a Police Hub where you can speak to officers dedicated to dealing with it. Police Hubs will be located in visible and accessible places in communities, providing a place the public can go to talk to the police and other agencies in person about their concerns in an area, as well as providing a visible reassurance to residents who live there.

Neighbourhood Prevention Teams

New Neighbourhood Prevention Teams will bring together police, community support officers, youth workers and local authority staff to tackle anti-social behaviour at source. NPTs will be made up of neighbourhood police officers, PCSOs, youth workers and local authority enforcement officers. These teams would prioritise being visible on patrols and would pursue serial perpetrators of ASB or low-level crime, as well as dealing with visible signs of disorder such as broken windows, graffiti, fly-tipping, or drug dealing. These teams will also support victims of anti-social behaviour.

Next generation neighbourhood watch

  • A next generation neighbourhood watch, harnessing the potential of modern technologies – such as video doorbells, dashcams and WhatsApp – and encourage a virtual approach to sharing advice and gathering intelligence in local communities.

More Special Constables

  • A major recruitment drive to increase the number of Special Constables, whose numbers have fallen sharply since 2010, focusing on community safety up and down the country.

Police funding and staffing numbers

  • Tackle the Tory rise in violent crime and address the huge cuts in police officers, PCSOs and police staff which have made communities less safe.
  • More police focusing on safer streets and tackling violence, through a neighbourhood policing fund which also allows the recruitment of police staff and PCSOs
  • New neighbourhood policing fund (£150m) and violence reduction fund (£22m)

Tackling drug dens

Stronger powers for police and local authorities to shut down premises being used for drug dealing or consumption, as well as action to remove the barriers which prevent existing powers being used. In the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act:

  • Increase the length of time a closure notice could be issued for from an initial 48 hours to 72 hours.
  • Increase the length of time a closure order can be granted from an initial minimum three months to a minimum of six months.
  • We would then extend the ability of an extension for six months up to 12 months

Buy, Make and Sell More in Britain

Britain needs an industrial strategy to improve our productivity to ensure we Buy, Make and Sell more in Britain. And to revive the places that made Britain wealthy.

Labour will make more in Britain by giving more public contracts to British companies, big and small, by:

  • Asking every public body to give more contracts to British firms big and small, using stretching social, environmental and labour clauses in contract design to raise standards and spend and make more in Britain.
  • Passing a law requiring public bodies to report on how much they are buying from British businesses including SMEs.
  • Leading a culture change in government, putting the growth of local industries first, and reviewing the pipeline of all major infrastructure projects to explore how to increase the materials made in Britain, upskill workers to get the jobs of the future.

Labour will help bring jobs of the future to Britain, by:

  • Investing in reshoring jobs in the same way we invest in Foreign Direct Investment, by helping every business considering reshoring access the expertise and support they need.
  • Working with colleges and universities to make sure we’re honing the skills and apprenticeships for the jobs of the future.

Climate investment pledge

At our conference we pledged an extra £28 billion a year in capital investment to combat climate change to create green jobs, to inspire innovation for a clean future. And this promises a future to places that were once defined by what they made but which fell on harder times.

An additional £28bn of capital investment in our country’s green transition for each and every year of this decade. Examples of what it could be spent on: giga-factories to build batteries for electric vehicles, thriving hydrogen industry, offshore wind with turbines made in Britain, more green places and safe cycle paths, planting trees and building flood defences, keeping homes warm and getting energy bills down.

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Christmas 2021: Message from Stephen Morgan MP

Last Christmas was incredibly difficult for communities across our city.

Lockdown and tighter restrictions meant many of us had to spend most of the festive season at home, leaving many feeling cut off and isolated.

This year, despite the emergence of omicron variant and ‘plan B’, many will be trying to be together safely with loved ones again this Christmas.

That is in no small part down to our city working together to tackle the worst of the pandemic. Whether that’s volunteering at local vaccine centres to get jabs in arms, donating to local foodbanks, or our local frontline workers helping to keep Portsmouth and the country moving.

But whilst we hope this Christmas will be an opportunity to catch up with each other after another tough year, it’s so important we all play our part to make sure no one is left lonely this festive season.

Whether that’s a chat over a cup of tea, a knock on the door, or sending a card to a neighbour just up the road, there’s something we can all do to bring people together this Christmas.

I hope you’ll join me in helping to tackle loneliness this winter, as we look to ring in a new year.

Until then though, I wish you all a very happy, and safe, Christmas.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

 

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Local Afghan evacuees presented with ‘Hug in a Bag’ at welcome event hosted by Portsmouth MP

Stephen Morgan MP joined local Labour councillors on Saturday to present evacuated Afghan families living in Portsmouth with a ‘Hug in a Bag’ to welcome them to the city.

Local Afghan evacuees were given Portsmouth themed goods donated by local people as a small gesture to help them settle into the community.

Organised by the Portsmouth Labour Party, local residents were invited to donate a range of welcome gifts to ‘Hug in a Bag’ to support Afghan families seeking sanctuary in the city. Donations included handmade quilts and other household items.

Local shops Pigeon books, Southsea Bathing Hut, Herbies Health Food Store also supported the scheme, acting as community hubs for those wishing to donate their welcome presents, or cash towards gifts handpicked by the high-street business owners.

Together the three stores received a total of £570 in donations from the community, including cash they donated themselves.

Labour member, Laura Watford, said:

“We felt the 3 shops involved in ‘Hug in a Bag’ all sold luxury Portsmouth themed items that we could add to the bag. They have been super supportive and have helped us pick some beautiful items for the bags. 

“If this model works then there’s no reason why we couldn’t replicate it in the future for more refugee families in Portsmouth. 

“As a group we are very proud of the money we have raised – over £570.

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

I am grateful to local people for their generosity in supporting Afghan families seeking sanctuary in Portsmouth. Once again I would like to thank those settling in our city for their work in supporting the British armed forces, and it has been a pleasure to welcome them as new constituents.

“Community-led projects like ‘Hug in a Bag’ are a shining example of the strength of our city coming together to support each other.

“These families have gone through an incredibly difficult time, and after supporting our servicemen and women, it’s only right we welcome them with open arms and help them settle in as best we can.”

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City MP backs calls to address ‘decade of decline’ for local swimming pool access

Stephen Morgan MP has backed calls to address growing concerns about the number of decent swimming pools available to use for Portsmouth residents.

The city currently only has just a few options that are available to the public, while Swim England has also forecasted a wider 40% reduction in the number of available swimming facilities in the country by the end of the decade.

It has also warned this would leave 73% of local authorities short of the equivalent of at least one swimming pool.
Swimming remains one of the most popular activities in England, but almost 4 million people could be shut out of the activities they love because of these closures.

The Portsmouth MP recently met Portsmouth Northsea Swimming Club, on training at the Mountbatten Centre, which since 1927 has been delivering swimming courses and training for all abilities, from beginners to national level competitive swimmers.

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

“Swimming is an ideal activity for people of all ages with huge benefits for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so I’m particularly concerned about the reduction of access to local pools we are seeing in Portsmouth and across the country.”

“The city council’s decision to close facilities in Eastney and the Pyramids will have real impacts for local people, but I welcome the university’s efforts to open their new facilities to the public, alongside student and staff access.

“The next generation shouldn’t have fewer opportunities than the last and Government has got to get serious about the level of support that is needed to address this growing problem.

“Our city has helped to develop some top athletes over the years. It’s vital we don’t lose this valuable tradition. I will continue to push the government on this to ensure that happens and end this decade of decline.”

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City MP announces winners of his annual Christmas card competition that aims to bring people ‘Together at Christmas’

Stephen Morgan MP has announced the winners of his 2021 Christmas card competition for school-aged children. 

Students across the Portsmouth representative’s constituency of Portsmouth South were asked to send in their designs to his office for judging.

The theme of the popular competition for this year was ‘Together at Christmas’, which received over 400 entries.

The city MP this week visited the winner and runner up of his Christmas card competition at their respective schools of Southsea Infant School and Meon Junior.

The winner, Grayson (age 6), won first place for his drawing of winter owls. Amelia (age 10) claimed runner-up for her picture of a Christmas scene in Portsmouth.

Mr Morgan hopes, after such a tough year, the competition will help spread some much-needed cheer across the local community as well as help young people understand the contribution made to Portsmouth of those working on the frontline in 2021.

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

“I’m delighted to announce this year’s winner and runner-up for their fantastic entries to my annual Christmas card competition. It was a really strong selection with so many entries, but the work of Grayson and Amelia really stood out.

“The past 18 months have been particularly difficult for so many people, both in our city and across the country, so I hope this year’s competition will be a chance to spread some much-needed cheer across our city and help bring communities back together once again.

“Whilst many of us are hoping to see each other over Christmas, it’s important we all play our part to make sure no one is lonely over the festive period. Whether that’s a chat over a cup of tea, a knock on the door, or sending a card to a neighbour just up the road, there’s something we can all do to bring people together this Christmas.”

The winning entry is to feature as the design for Stephen’s official Christmas card. The card will be sent to hundreds of individuals and organisations across the constituency and country later this month, with a copy sent to Her Majesty the Queen.

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Aquind: Portsmouth MP grills ministers on checks carried out on alleged ‘fraudster’ owners of ‘disastrous project’

Stephen Morgan MP grilled ministers in the House of Commons today on what checks have been carried out on the owners of Aquind, after one was implicated in a £72m fraud scheme linked to Putin’s Russia.

Revelations uncovered by BBC Panorama and The Guardian newspaper in October raised serious questions over whether a reported £72m, made by Aquind co-owner Viktor Fedotov through an allegedly corrupt company, made its way to the heart of the British government and has influenced its decision to give the Russian-born AQUIND co-owner’s infrastructure project the green light or not.

Alexander Temerko, who is a friend of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and also a co-owner of AQUIND, has together with the company donated £1.1m to the Conservative Party.

The Portsmouth MP recently hosted Shadow Energy Minister Alan Whitehead MP on a visit to the city to meet with ‘Stop Aquind’ campaigners, as next month’s deadline (January 21) for the government to make a decision on whether to approve the controversial project looms.

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

“There are serious allegations surrounding the Aquind interconnector project and yet many questions are still left unanswered. After delaying its decision twice, the government has had more than enough time to do the due diligence that’s needed to get to the bottom of this.

“Reported shady ties between Aquind’s co-owners and dirty money tracing back to Putin’s Russia need to be fully investigated, particularly if any of it has made its way to ministers at the heart of the British government via political donations.

“Ministers must come clean on checks they have done around Aquind and its owners to protect our national infrastructure and finally bring an end to this disastrous project once and for all.”

 

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Small Business Saturday: City MP announces winners of his ‘Support local’ awards

Stephen Morgan MP has announced the winners of his ‘Support Local’ Portsmouth small business awards, as the country marked Small Business Saturday.

Last month, the city MP called for local people to nominate their favourite local shops and traders in his constituency in three different categories. With dozens and dozens of nominations across Milton, Southsea, Old Portsmouth, Eastney, Fratton, Landport, Buckland and Portsea, this year’s winners are:

  • Greenest Local Business: Package Free Larder, Elm Grove, Southsea
  • Friendliest Local Business: MAKE, Cornwall Road, Fratton
  • Overall Best Business: Andre’s Food Bar, Osborne Road, Southsea

The Portsmouth MP delivered the award winners with certificates on Saturday, and thanked them for their service to our communities.

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

On Small Business Saturday, customers across the U.K. go out and support all types of small businesses, online, in offices and in stores. Many small businesses take part in the day by hosting events and offering discounts.

£1.1 billion was spent with small businesses across the UK during last year’s Small Business Saturday, with 15.4 million people turning out to support small businesses.

The city awards build on last year’s successful initiative by the Portsmouth South representative that saw hundreds of people nominating local shops and traders across constituency.

The City MP has been a long-time supporter of Portsmouth’s local businesses.

In May, the Portsmouth representative launched his ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ campaign that encouraged local people to support small businesses as the economy unlocked. Since being elected, he has been lobbying government through a range of parliamentary questions, raising concerns in Parliament and calling on Government to better support Portsmouth’s businesses.

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

“Local businesses are the lifeblood of our city, but the past 18 months has been an incredibly difficult time for many of them.

“That’s why I have been calling on people to ‘Support Local’ this Christmas, and am delighted to finally announce this year’s winners of my small business awards. They truly deserve recognition for the way they have gone above and beyond in serving our city’s communities this year.

“Like many Portsmouth people, on this weekend’s Small Business Saturday, I’ll be out and about supporting local traders and shops. So many small businesses and shopworkers helped keep our city going during the pandemic. Now it’s our turn to support them not just this Saturday, but all year round.”

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City MP praises local heroes at this year’s Inspiring Fratton Awards

Stephen Morgan MP praised this year’s winners of the Inspiring Fratton Awards, a scheme set up three years ago by the locally born parliamentary representative in partnership with Fratton Big Local.

The Portsmouth MP handed out the awards to winners during a ceremony at St Mary’s church on Friday evening.

The Inspiring Fratton 2021 Award Winners for are:

  • Contribution to Creativity in Fratton Over 18: Claire Phillips
  • Contribution to Creativity in Fratton under 18: Darcie Kingston
  • Contribution to Education in Fratton Over 18: Lynn Harris
  • Contribution to Education in Fratton under 18: Keira Coles
  • Contribution to Sport in Fratton in Fratton over 18: Ali Fayazi
  • Contribution to Sport in Fratton in Fratton under 18: Christopher Lillie
  • Contribution to Volunteering in Fratton Over 18: Kay Ackerman
  • Contribution to Volunteering in Fratton under 18: Lilyann More
  • Best Café / Take Away in Fratton Rd: Paanchi
  • Best Trader/ Business in Fratton Rd: Electric Arms
  • Contribution to Community Life in Fratton in extraordinary time Over 18: Helen Barter
  • Contribution to Community Life in Fratton in extraordinary time under 18: Alice Stoneham

Fratton Big Local is a ‘Big Lottery’ funded 10-year project which aims to make lasting improvements to Fratton.
Run by a partnership of local residents, the scheme makes decisions about how to spend the funding, based on engagement and conversations with local key groups and those living in the area.

Awards categories are split between over 18s and under 18s, ranging from best community volunteer, to the best café or takeway on Fratton Road.

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

“Born and bred in Fratton I’ve always believed the area is a strong and resilient community, but the last 18 months have tested every resident, in every part of this area.

“When, three years ago, I set up the Inspiring Fratton awards with Fratton Big Local, we never thought our community would be tested in the way it has in recent months.

“After last year’s hybrid award ceremony, I was delighted to be able to hand these awards over to their richly deserving winners, with so many more people there to see it in person this time.

These unsung heroes in Fratton who have gone above and beyond this year are truly making a positive and lasting legacy for our community.”

This is the third year the awards ceremony has taken place, with last year’s Inspiring Fratton Awards ceremony being hybrid event that was broadcast online.