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City MP launches NHS dentistry survey amid crisis in care

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has launched an online survey for local residents to provide their views on the crisis facing NHS dentistry.

Results from the short questionnaire will inform a dossier of evidence the City MP is preparing to lobby the Health Secretary for change.

Figures from NHS Digital suggest only 39% of adults in Portsmouth had seen an NHS dentist in the 2 years up to 31 December 2020, compared to 45% across England.

Just 26% of Portsmouth children have seen an NHS dentist in the last 12 months, compared to a national figure of 30%, despite those appointments being free on the NHS.

In October 2020, Portsmouth resident Chris Savage numbered among the 7.6% of English households that have attempted a DIY tooth extraction, after struggling to access NHS treatment.

The survey is the latest in a string of actions the City MP has taken locally and in Parliament.

In January this year, Stephen warned Health Ministers of a crisis in NHS dentistry in a speech in the House of Commons and called on the government to drop damaging activity targets.

The same month saw him host a summit with local dentists, the Chair of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Dental Committee and Portsmouth Healthwatch, to hear directly from practitioners and patients.

In 2019, Stephen backed Labour’s pledge to offer free dental check-ups for all as part of a plan to focus on preventative healthcare.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I remain deeply concerned that Portsmouth has been disproportionately affected by the ongoing crisis in NHS dentistry.

“The pandemic created an inevitable backlog of care, but it also exposed the underlying weaknesses of the current system which risk causing generational damage to patient care.

“This survey is a chance for people to have their say, and I will take their concerns directly to the Health Secretary to lobby for the change we need.”

Click here to fill out the survey.

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City MP raises concerns over ‘totally unsustainable’ government housing targets

Portsmouth South MP has blasted the government’s “inflated” housing targets for the city, and raised concerns about the impact of unsustainable development on the local infrastructure and “our treasured natural environment.”

The government’s 2020 Standard Methodology housing targets commit Portsmouth to building 17,357 dwellings between 2020 and 2038, or 855 per annum.

But the city is already one of the most densely populated in the UK, with approximately 220,000 people in 15 square miles. The Council’s 2019 Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) suggests there is capacity for up to 134 fewer dwellings per year than will be needed in the period to 2036.

According to property developer Lichfields, the new target is 602 dwellings per year more than the average delivery over the past three years.

Mr Morgan writes: “Our city recognises the need to build more homes, but any delivery must be sustainable, integrated with the right infrastructure, and acknowledge the unique circumstances Portsmouth faces.”

Natural England suggested halted housing applications in the Solent area in 2019 because of Nitrate contamination in harbours killing marine life. Portsmouth Council’s own data suggests continued development will worsen the existing greenspace deficit in the City.

The letter goes on: “As it stands, our housing targets are so high that we have no hope of meeting them and our City is being set up to fail.”

Stephen Morgan MP is urging Mr Jenrick to attend a summit meeting with local planning representatives to discuss the issue and support a more sustainable housing delivery plan.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan added:

“We all recognise the need to build more homes, but it must be delivered sustainably, with the right local infrastructure and must not put our environment at risk.

“Algorithms and formulas can never be a substitute for local knowledge and decision-making by councils and communities who know their area best.

“I am urging the Secretary of State to think again, and meet with myself and local planning representatives to see the impact these inflated targets would have on our area first hand.”

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City MP: Levelling Up Fund must bring benefits to Portsmouth people’s doorsteps

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP HAS met with Portsmouth City Council’s Chief Executive and other council officials to help secure funding for the city post-pandemic and bring much-needed investment to Portsmouth.

Nationally the Government’s new flagship “Levelling Up Fund” has been criticised for prioritising the Chancellor’s own local authority, where houses are currently on sale for £2.5 million, for regeneration funding ahead of areas often neglected by Ministers for financial support, including here in Portsmouth.

The Chancellor’s own local authority of Richmondshire, as well as the constituencies of four other members of the Cabinet, are prioritised to bid for Levelling Up Funding.

Newark and Sherwood, Pembrokeshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Great Yarmouth local authorities, which include the constituencies of the Chancellor, the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart, Scottish Secretary Allister Jack and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis respectively, were all included in the first tier of eligibility for priority funding, under plans announced by the Chancellor at the Budget.

Their areas were selected for funding ahead of authorities such as Barnsley, Flintshire, Coventry, Plymouth, Salford and the Wirral, all of which were included in the second tier for priority funding.

To ensure transparency by Ministers, Labour has previously demanded the Government publish the metrics used to determine areas for priority funding. Bids will be determined by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The news follows months of controversy after a town in the Communities Secretary’s own constituency, Newark, was selected for funding as part of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund by the then communities minister Jake Berry, while Jenrick selected Darwen, in Berry’s constituency.

Ministers at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, will determine bids under a number of criteria.

Following the meeting with the city council today, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Labour supports funding for every region but it is crucial that it is done transparently, fairly and with a say for local communities. This Government cannot pit regions and nations against each other for money that should reach communities as a matter of course.

“Piecemeal pots of funding do not make up for a decade of cuts to local communities in Portsmouth: it just highlights this Government’s failure to bring prosperity to our city.

“Cosmetic projects that don’t fix major inequalities between our regions are not good enough: the real yardstick of success will be if this Government puts opportunities on everyone’s doorsteps and leaves every part of our country feeling like a good place to grow up and grow old in”.

The council will be working up ideas for the area based on priorities set by Government including transport, regeneration and town centre and cultural investment. Up to £20m is available to bid for.

On specific ideas for regeneration the MP added:

“We must ensure future funding from Government finally ends the two decades of decline to our city centre. This is a huge issue locally yet sadly successive council leaders in Portsmouth have promised the earth, but failed to deliver. Investment at the scale our city’s heart needs is long overdue.

“Today I made clear to officials again that we must ensure funding helps create and protect jobs, tackles the climate crisis and makes a difference to the lives of Portsmouth people.

“I will be working closely with others in the development of a bid from our city, and will take a watching interest in proposals on potential regeneration sites”.

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Shadow Defence Minister: Armed Forces Bill risks reinforcing “postcode lottery” on services for veterans

Stephen Morgan MP urged Ministers to hear service charity concerns that the Armed Forces Bill will reinforce the “postcode lottery” veterans face when accessing services.

Speaking in the House of Commons following the publication of a cross-party report, Mr Morgan said the Bill’s narrow focus on housing, healthcare and education, risked creating a “two-tier” Covenant and a race to the bottom on standards in those areas left out.

In practice, this means many long-standing problems facing armed forces, veterans and their families will remain unaddressed. Social care, pensions, employment and immigration are among the long list of areas witnesses told the Committee will not be covered by this once-in-a-Parliament piece of legislation.

The Confederation of Service Charities Chair General Sir John McColl specifically highlighted the eyewatering visa fees that Commonwealth veterans face as an instance where the government’s current “moral requirement” to comply with the Covenant “absolutely does not work”.

The government has also not included the Lyons Review recommendation that civilian courts should have full jurisdiction over murder, rape and serious sexual offences committed in the UK. In evidence to the Committee, Judge Lyons said he was “surprised” to find the most serious cases being tried in the service justice system and argued that this had not been Parliament’s original intent.

Stephen Morgan MP, Shadow Armed Forces Minister and Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

“The government must listen to concerns raised by MPs of all parties and service charities that this Bill will not address long-standing issues for service communities.  

“Following input from across the sector and service communities themselves, government must now listen to the recommendations outlined in our report today.

“Labour will continue speaking up for our Armed Forces, veterans and their families, and ensure that the promises in the Covenant are delivered for all of the nation’s service personnel.”

Mr Morgan has been leading the Official Opposition’s response to the Armed Forces Bill during its passage through Parliament.

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Local MP backs national campaign to ‘Shop Kind’ as Portsmouth Co-op signs up

Stephen Morgan MP has given his support to the national campaign to ‘Shop Kind’, as local co-operative stores sign up.

The campaign aims to build positivity and encourage kindness to both shopworkers and consumers in stores.

Southern Co-op, which operates The Co-operative Food stores, as well as funeral and coffee services across the south, is working with some of the UK’s biggest retailers, the Home Office and independent charity Crimestoppers who have launched a new and timely campaign urging the public to ShopKind after the reopening of more stores and shops across the country.

Abuse and violence towards shopworkers is a bigger problem than many people might think, with at least 400 shopworkers abused every day.

The campaign is backed by the Home Office and supported by major high street retailer as well as the nation’s independent shopkeepers, and the shopworkers Union Usdaw.

The Association of Convenience Stores’ 2021 Crime Report, published last month, shows that over the past year there have been over 1.2million incidents of verbal abuse, and around 40,000 incidents of violence against people working in convenience stores. Of these, more than a quarter involved a weapon, such as a knife, hammer, axe, or syringe.

Two-thirds of retailers (65%) had experienced Covid-related threats, with the most common causes of abuse being: reminding customers to wear face coverings, reminding customers of social distancing measures and queueing outside stores.

Backing the campaign city MP Stephen Morgan and Fratton resident Nikki Coles visited the Coop on New Road, Fratton.

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

“As restrictions slowly begin to ease and shops reopen, it is really important we are mindful of those key workers who have helped keep us going over the past year.

“The abuse they have received is completely unacceptable, particularly at a time when we should be thanking them for their sacrifices.

This behaviour cannot continue and as we gradually unpick the economy, we should use this as an opportunity to end such behaviour.

It is why I fully support the national ‘Shop Kind’ campaign.”

Nikki Coles, Labour’s candidate for Fratton, added:

“No one in Fratton or across our city should have to face violence and abuse just for doing their job, and nothing is more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of shopworkers who work tirelessly within communities – they deserve thanks, not abuse, threats and violence.

They also deserve for the law to better protect them as they go about their daily working lives”.

Portsmouth Labour representatives have previously backed Usdaw’s ‘Respect for Shopworkers Week’, last November, following a visit to a local Co-op supermarket in Portsmouth.

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Stephen Morgan MP opens new community pop-up shop open in Landport

Stephen Morgan MP opened the Landport Larder today, where residents can now purchase food for a fraction of the cost of supermarkets thanks to a new community pop-up shop.

For just £3.50 a week, people can select 10 items from a selection of tins, chilled items, and fresh fruit and veg. This would cost an average of £15 from the supermarket.

The larder has been set up by Enable Ability at Landport Community Centre, with support from Abri, one of the south of England’s largest housing providers.

The Landport Larder will be open Tuesdays, from 10am – 1pm at Landport Community Centre.

Customers will need to bring a bag to take items home in and will need to wear a mask while in the centre.

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

“It’s great to see initiatives like the Landport Larder offer much needed support to our communities.

While we know that the pandemic has hit us all hard, it has also brought communities together, supporting each other and coming up with new, creative ways to help others.

I hope we see more initiatives like this to create a positive legacy for what has been a hard time for us all.”

Paula Windebank, Community Development Officer at Abri, added:

“We’re proud to support the Landport Larder and help our community access fresh, healthy, affordable food.

It’s part of our five-year £15m investment to create thriving communities and empower lives, making sure we’re delivering change where it’s needed most.”

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Portsmouth MP welcomes back ‘Boxing for the Brain’ initiative to support mental health

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed back local initiative ‘Boxing for the Brain’, a network that aims to support mental health in the community, as its partner boxing gym opened its doors for the first time today, post-lockdown.

Based at local boxing gym ‘Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Academy’, the initiative offers drop-in support sessions, talks on mental health and a range of courses to offer something for everyone.

It comes as the city MP supported the boxing gym’s recent application for £10,000 of community funding for improvements to its existing facilities and planned expansion to create a better environment to support its community outreach sessions.

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, who visited the boxing gym to learn more about its work today, commented:

“Boxing for the Brain is a fantastic programme that provides support to all those in the community who may be struggling with their mental health.

“It is really important that as restrictions slowly begin to ease that we recognise the importance of how our physical fitness goes hand-in-hand with our mental fitness too, as I know from my postbag the impact the latest lockdown has had on many people’s mental health.”

“Investing in projects like these is critical to supporting the wellbeing of our local community and will play a critical role in our city’s overall recovery from this pandemic.”

Mr Morgan met with the founder of Boxing for the Brain in Parliament early last year to offer his support.

Since then he has visited the project at Fort Cumberland before the first lockdown last March, met with those involved since and is supporting the project by being an ambassador.

For more information about the project visit www.boxingforthebrain.co.uk

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Stephen Morgan MP backs Southsea businessman Kevin Watkins’ sail across the Atlantic

City MP Stephen Morgan has thrown his weight behind local businessman Kevin Watkins’ efforts to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to raise funds for Action Medical Research’s Born Too Soon campaign.

The charity aims to highlight the impact premature birth has on babies and their families and to help fund research that can save lives.

Kevin Watkins, who runs Southsea Cycles along Albert Road, has enlisted the support of Stephen Morgan MP and local campaigner Charlotte Gerada to promote the proposed gruelling event for charity and inspire the city’s communities to learn more.

Bringing the 28-foot boat to his neighbour on Albert Road, Southsea, Kevin showed the Portsmouth South MP the equipment which will get the team across the Atlantic, starting in the Canary Islands and finishing in the Caribbean.

After meeting the ‘Elijah Star’ crew and learning more about the adventure, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I am delighted to support Kevin and his crew as they raise money to power research to prevent premature birth.

“As a local businessman and former Royal Navy Marine Engineer, Kevin’s efforts are rooted in our Portsmouth community.

“With ten per cent of all births being premature, I would encourage everyone to consider donating so we can combat the biggest killer of children under five.

“I look forward to working together to inspire local communities, attract donations and raise awareness for this fantastic cause before the crew set off in December next year.”

To find out more visit https://elijahstar.com. The City MP has vowed to help the crew by taking the message to local schools.

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Stronger rights for victims of anti-social behaviour are needed says City MP as huge increase in number of people affected over past decade revealed

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed demands for stronger rights for victims of anti-social behaviour as analysis reveals a huge increase in number of people affected over the past decade

New analysis by Labour reveals that two fifths of Crime Survey (CSEW) respondents said they had experienced anti-social behaviour (ASB) in their local area in the past year – the highest since questions on ASB were included in the CSEW.

This is equivalent to 19m people experiencing some form of ASB in 2019-20, up by 1m in a year and 5.5m more than 2011-12.

Every area in England and Wales has seen an increase in the number of people experiencing ASB over the past five years.

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

“We are living through a victims crisis. Over a quarter of all crimes aren’t being prosecuted because victims are dropping out of the process entirely. That means that 1 million victims every year are being failed by the very system designed to protect them. 

I know from my postbag the impact anti-social behaviour is having on our communities. That is why I continue to take action to tackle the issues we face in Portsmouth working alongside the police and other agencies. But it is vital that Government plays their part too and ensures fairer funding for Hampshire Constabulary and delivers investment in preventative services in our city.

 I welcome Labour’s Victims Law that’s ready to go to help those affected by anti-social behaviour.

It makes victims unignorable in a system that increasingly overlooks their needs. Now it’s up to the Government to put politics aside and implement it without delay.” 

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said:

“The shocking rise in the number of people experiencing anti-social behaviour is a huge cause of concern for families and communities across the country.

“People deserve to feel safe and secure in their neighbourhoods and town centres, but under the Conservatives police numbers have been slashed, violent crime has risen to record levels, and anti-social behaviour has been left unchecked.

“Labour will work to put more police on our streets and would act where the Conservatives have failed and introduce a new Victims’ Law that would give victims of anti-social behaviour the same rights as victims of crimes.”

 

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City MP highlights funding for Portsmouth charities

Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, has urged local charities and good causes to apply for funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Over 3,500 grassroots organisations in Britain will receive a share of almost £17 million this year.

Local projects can apply for funding from the Postcode Society Trust which is for organisations operating in the south of England. Registered charities can apply for up to £20,000 of funding, which is available for both project-based and core costs.

Applications will be accepted every month until October 2021.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Over the last year many charities across Portsmouth have responded to the pandemic by working to support and protect our city’s communities. Yet the last year has also been a difficult time for charity fundraising.

“The funds raised by People’s Postcode Lottery players and available to local charities are therefore a great chance for local organisations to secure funding.

“Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have already raised over £700 million for good causes and I would love to see some more successful applicants from our area so I urge all local charities and community groups to consider submitting an application.”

People’s Postcode Lottery’s head of public affairs, Malcolm Fleming said:

“People’s Postcode Lottery players are making a massive difference to charities across the country and we are delighted that this year the funding available for local charities should more than double.

“We urge all interested organisations to visit the trust website to find out more about the funding available and how to submit an application.”

As a commitment to supporting smaller good causes, applications will only be accepted from organisations with an annual income of less than £1 million. Preference will be given to those with an income less than £500,000.

More information, including a funding guide and eligibility quiz, can be found on the trust’s website: www.postcodesocietytrust.org.uk