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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

 

 

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City MP backs Keep Britain Tidy’s million-mile mission to clean up Portsmouth’s lockdown litter

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has pledged support to a litter-picking initiative to allow it to flourish across Portsmouth as the pandemic restrictions continue to ease.

Keep Britain Tidy, Britain’s favourite environmental charity, is asking everyone to pledge to do their bit to clear up the litter that blights our communities as part of the Great British Spring Clean. The Portsmouth MP has signed up to help and is encouraging residents and groups across the city to get involved too.

The Great British Spring Clean, now in its sixth year, brings together individuals, community organisations, businesses and councils to make a difference to the environment on our doorstep.

In 2019, more than half a million #LitterHeroes collected just under a million bags of litter, weighing around 4,308 tons.

Encouraging fellow residents to get involved, Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“Locked down, many people across Portsmouth have come to rely on green space close to home which has become a significant somewhere to escape, exercise and play.

“Our city’s parks and open spaces have mattered to us more than ever before. That’s why I am pleased to support this year’s Keep Britain Tidy campaign.

“The Great Spring Clean is a brilliant way to keep active and at the same time make a difference in our area.

I encourage fellow residents, local groups and businesses to join me in showing some love for the special places that helped us through lockdown by helping to clear up our city’s precious open spaces”.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend the city MP was out with local Milton campaigner Paula Savage clearing up litter safely in local parks.

The campaign, which runs from 28 May – 13 June 2021, calls on the public to pledge to clean-up and help the charity achieve a million miles of litter-picking. 

This year’s campaign comes as the charity has reported a massive increase in the number of people who have started litter-picking during the various lockdowns. It has seen the number of #LitterHeroes grow by a third in less than 12 months.

Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton added:

“We are delighted to have the support of Stephen Morgan MP for this year’s Great British Spring Clean.

“We have all spent a lot more time in our local area in the past year and have come to realise just how important our local park or green space is for our mental and physical health.

“We need to care for these spaces and the Great British Spring Clean is an opportunity for everyone to take a small action that, collectively, can make a big difference.

“Whether you commit to do five minutes or five hours, every single pledge will help us reach our million-mile target and clear many tonnes of litter pollution from our environment.”

Keep Britain Tidy is asking everyone to pledge to do their bit to clear up the litter in their local green spaces. Anyone can pledge to get involved at www.keepbritaintidy.org/gbspringclean

 

 

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Portsmouth MP says lobbying for city’s arts and cultural sector ‘is paying off’ but Government must support those excluded

Stephen Morgan MP has today welcomed the latest round of grants to help the city’s arts and cultural sector recover from the pandemic but has called on Ministers to finally end the uncertainty for those in the creative sector who have missed out on financial support

In the Portsmouth South constituency, the Cultural Recovery Fund has today awarded grants totalling £1,066,493 to over six organisations from Concrete Music to The Mary Rose. Moreover, across Portsmouth, a total of £1,143,047 has been awarded to eight organisations.

Arts Council England has awarded over £261 million to more than 2,700 organisations as part of this round of the national programme.

The Portsmouth South MP has been tirelessly lobbying Government to support the city’s arts and cultural organisations and those who work in the sector in what has been an extremely challenging time for the industry.

This has included meeting with local representatives, submitting parliamentary questions, visiting organisations to hear concerns, supporting funding bids and lobbying Ministers directly.

Welcoming today’s latest grants round, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“I have long argued that when our country recovers from this pandemic culture must be front and centre. Yet so many of our city’s fantastic arts and cultural organisations have been under huge strain in the past year, with venues closed and ticket and secondary sales lost.

I am pleased that the lobbying of Government is finally paying off and these grants will go a long well to help many organisations get back on their feet and recover from a difficult year.

It was a pleasure to work alongside so many in the sector to secure much needed funding for Portsmouth, but we have more to do to get Ministers to listen, and ensure the strong foundations we need for the future”.

The Cultural Recovery Fund has been designed to support venues rather than individuals in the creative sector.  On this the city MP added:

“Our city’s recovery will not just be about making sure organisations have the resources they need to thrive, but also support is given to those amazing creatives who work within the sector.

Last month’s Budget made only a small adjustment to the support for the self-employed but there are still millions without support – many of whom work within the creative and events sector here in Portsmouth.

That’s why I will continue to lobby Government to make sure those excluded from financial support are not forgotten. They need certainty too and they need it now”.

Local beneficiaries of the Cultural Recovery Fund also include:

  • The Cathedral Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury in Portsmouth (£121,000 )
  • Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust (£222,300)
  • PRCDTC Portsmouth St Johns Cathedral (£102,200)
  • The Wedgewood Rooms (£73,686)
  • Groundlings Theatre (£32,582)
  • SSD Music limited (£299,002)
  • Portsmouth City Council – Museums (£160,640)
  • The Kings Theatre Trust (£172,931)