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City MP steps up efforts to bring back Southsea parkrun

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has this week taken action to ensure that Southsea parkrun can restart safely.

Responding to concerns raised by the volunteer-led organisation, as well as local residents, Mr Morgan wrote to Public Health Minister Jo Churchill earlier this week.

In the letter, Mr Morgan wrote of the huge ‘physical and mental health’ benefits parkrun provides and urged the government to clarify that it was able to take place once again in line with the roadmap and clinical evidence on Covid transmission.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has now confirmed that parkrun’s plans “follow all the guidelines set out by the government to keep people safe and there is no reason they can’t now take place.” He also urged local councils to do “whatever it takes” to get them back up and running.

Today Mr Morgan met the City Council’s Director of Culture to raise these concerns and find a way to ensure the much-loved community event returns. It is hoped that the event will go ahead on 5 June as planned using an alternative route close-by.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

 “I’ve seen first-hand the enormous physical and mental health benefits Southsea’s parkrun provides. People really need this as we emerge from the pandemic.

“The events follow all government and clinical guidance, so there should be no barriers to our local runners getting back out there.

“I will continue to work with Ministers and the council to get these events running again as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

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Portsmouth MP slams government as new research reveals thousands of local children living in poverty

Stephen Morgan MP has attacked the government today after new analysis published by the End Child Poverty Coalition showed a sharp rise in child poverty in Britain in the last 5 years, with more than 400,000 more children living in poverty after housing costs than in 2015.

Child poverty was rising sharply even before the Covid-19 pandemic, which is feared to have exacerbated the situation even further.

Child poverty is also rising locally and there are now 7,154 children in Portsmouth South living in poverty, an increase of 7.7% from five years ago. A staggering 37.5% of all children in the constituency are living below the poverty line, after housing costs.

Researchers combined data on child poverty published by the Department for Work and Pensions in May with information about local housing costs to build a detailed picture of child poverty across the country.

Mr Morgan has also signed the new “No Child Left Behind” pledge launched today by the National Education Union which says:

“As a Member of Parliament, I pledge to do everything in my power so that no child is left behind in Portsmouth.

“I call for the development of a cross-Government strategy to eradicate the poverty faced by the 4.3 million children currently growing up trapped in poverty. 

“I will use my vote and voice in Parliament to try to stop an expected 730,000 more children being plunged into poverty by 2024. 

“We must value and invest in all our children, so they are supported to learn, succeed, and go on to have bright futures.”

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, added:

“These figures are shocking and heart breaking. This Government has presided over a staggering increase in child poverty, and ministers should hang their heads in shame.

“Boris Johnson talks a good game about levelling up the country, but this Government’s shameful record is one of rising poverty, soaring food bank use and a widening attainment gap.

“I will keep standing up for children in Portsmouth and campaign for a Labour Government that will make tackling child poverty a top priority.

“That is why I am proud to sign the National Education Union’s pledge committing to do everything in my power to ensure no child is left behind.”

The Portsmouth MP criticised the government last year for failing for afford free school meals to children last year. For families in need of support, you can find range of local contacts for foodbanks and other organisations here.

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Pride in Portsmouth: Portsmouth MP launches local recovery campaign at Historic Dockyard

Stephen Morgan MP launches his ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ campaign following a visit to the city’s Historic Dockyard, aiming to shine a spotlight on our city’s fantastic cultural assets, ahead of restrictions set to ease on Monday.

The Portsmouth MP met the team behind the Mary Rose and the National Museum for the Royal Navy, two key cultural assets for the city, as they make their final preparations for their reopening next week.

Parts of the visit included a preview of the new £1million exhibition at the National Museum for the Royal Navy and improved visitor centre, where Mr Morgan was able to thank and pay tribute to the staff behind the scenes that have helped to put it together, after a particularly tough year for the cultural and arts sectors.

Tourism is crucial to the city, providing around £600 million in income each year and supporting around 13,000 jobs.

It comes as much of the city also prepares to reopen its doors to visitors and residents, marking the beginning of the recovery of Portsmouth’s economy, following an unprecedented year of challenges.

A survey of tourism businesses in South East England recently showed:

  • 36% estimated losing more than £100,000 revenue this year
  • 57% had furloughed staff and 5% made staff redundant
  • 15% under threat of closure and 44% unsure if they could continue.

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

“It’s great be back at two of our top cultural gems of our city in the Mary Rose and Royal Navy Museums, seeing first-hand their brilliant exhibitions, as they prepare to fully reopen on Monday.

“Our city has an incredible amount to offer, with the tourism industry being a vital contributor to our local economy.

“That’s why today I am launching my ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ campaign, a call to action for our community to show its pride in our city by visiting local businesses and supporting our key cultural and sporting assets and shining a light on the access to those hidden gems.

I hope this will help to keep the pound in Portsmouth and secure our city’s local economic recovery.”

Part of the campaign’s focus will also be to widen participation and access in Portsmouth’s cultural offer, ensuring all residents have a stake in their city’s history and its future.

Mr Morgan is set to meet and visit a range of local groups, businesses, and cultural centres in the weeks ahead, to offer his support for the local economic recovery.

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Give us our bobbies back

Stephen Morgan MP is calling on the Home Secretary to fund our police service fairly and give us back the bobbies Tory governments have taken from our city.

A decade of cuts means Hampshire has lost more than 1,000 police officers since 2010, and we remain 400 short despite recent increases.

Police workforce figures show our constabulary has just 135 officers per 100,000 people, the lowest of any force in the country.

This year’s police funding settlement confirms a £21.9m real-terms cut in funding for Hampshire Constabulary over the past decade.

Ministers are heaping the burden onto local taxpayers by raising the council tax precept, instead of funding our safety directly.

These cuts have real consequences for our city, and our safety. Crime has risen 15% since 2016, with home burglaries and weapon possessions nearly doubling.

Hampshire’s Chief Constable recently confirmed that underfunding means police responses have to be rationed.

If, like Stephen, you want safer streets and more bobbies back on the beat, sign his pledge:

Thank you for signing our pledge. Stephen Morgan MP and the Labour Party will use the personal information you provide for the purpose of the ‘Give us our bobbies back’ campaign. Where you have opted in, Stephen and the Labour Party may contact you via the communication channels you have chosen and for the purposes specified. We may also contact you by post using the electoral register, which Stephen is entitled to use as an MP and the Labour Party is entitled to use to further its objectives as a political party. You can opt out of communications from us or manage your preferences at any time. For more information about how we use personal data please visit: www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/privacy-policy

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City MP presents Portsmouth’s NHS Parliamentary Award nominees with their certificates

Stephen Morgan MP has met with Portsmouth’s three nominees for the NHS Parliamentary Awards to offer his congratulations and thank them for their hard work and dedication during the pandemic.

Last year Members of Parliament were invited to nominate individuals or an organisation for an NHS Parliamentary Award. The Portsmouth South MP nominated three individuals who went above and beyond to support the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the online event, there was an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the staff, who are based at Queen Alexandra Hospital, as well as allowing an opportunity for the nominees to talk to the city MP about their experiences on the frontline.

All three nominees were from the Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust with The Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care Award nomination going to Clinical Director of Respiratory Medicine Dr Ben Green; The Wellbeing at Work Award nomination going to Respiratory High Care Ward Manager Katrina James; and the Excellence in Healthcare Award nomination going to Consultant Respiratory Physician, Tom Brown.

Chief Nurse Liz Rix also joined the online call to share the impact of the three nominees’ work at QA with Mr Morgan, including Dr Green’s work in driving preparedness plans in the respiratory department in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; Katrina James, who identified the need for a formal end of life process for patients coming off non-invasive ventilation and was praised for her incredible compassion for her patients, their loved ones and her colleagues; and Tom Brown, who became the Trust lead on research trials, reshaped the research team and embedded it as part of routine clinical care.

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

“All our NHS staff, volunteers and society’s carers deserve recognition, but Ben, Katrina and Tom have gone above and beyond the call of duty and their work has had an enormous impact on so many people here in Portsmouth as well as further afield.

“Hearing the tributes they made to their teams and their accounts of the dedication of the staff at QA hospital was inspirational.

“We owe these members of our community a debt of gratitude and I cannot thank them enough for all they have done.”

The city MP separately wrote a formal letter of thanks to each of the nominees. The hope is that next year’s awards will be able to be presented in person.

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“We can, and we will, build a better future for Portsmouth”

The last year, so hard for so many, has changed us all. It’s changed Portsmouth. By staying apart, we have come together like never before.

So many of you have told me we can’t come through the collective trauma of Covid-19 and go back to the same arguments and the old ways of doing things.

Tories and Lib Dems continue to fight each other, while our NHS loses out on funding. Our children miss out on a world-class education, and our city watches on as jobs go and our community is neglected by Government.

We’ve got to create a better future for the country we love, and we need to do that now.

As I continue to represent you and our city in Parliament, I am determined to ensure Portsmouth recovers from the pandemic faster and fairer. I will work day and night to bring that change, so we can build the city we all need.

But the work of Labour councillors is vital to delivering local services we all rely on and standing up for the causes you care about. By working electing a bigger Labour team on the city council today we can achieve so much more.

Working together, you local Labour councillors have been pushing to tackle the climate emergency that the Labour Group pushed for the city to declare. Labour councillors have strongly argued to stop AQUIND and the untold disruption it would cause to our city, and are calling for a proper green  recovery for Portsmouth through local initiatives like ‘Living Streets’.

In the last few weeks you will have heard from your local Labour team, and your candidate for the important elections to the city council today.

Instead of focusing on the divisions and disagreements of the past, Portsmouth Labour is making the case for a Covid recovery council, with a restart plan for every community, in every corner of our city, at its heart. Never again should we see services stripped back to their bones and communities suffering as a result.

It’s really important you vote for your local Labour candidate, so that they can deliver a catch up plan for our children, because we won’t let a generation of young people go forgotten. And we will set out our vision for jobs for now and for the future, supporting good local businesses to create good jobs.

The task ahead is tough, but together with a bigger Labour team on the city council there is nothing we cannot achieve.

We can, and we will, build a better future for Portsmouth. Please help us all to achieve that by voting for your Labour candidate today.

Stay safe and well.

Stephen Morgan MP

PS to find out about your local candidate visit www.portsmouthlabourparty.org.uk/labour-team/

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COVID impact: Portsmouth MP visits local organisation MAKE that supports adults with learning disabilities

Stephen Morgan MP visited local support group MAKE today following the acute impact the pandemic has had on vulnerable people living in Portsmouth.

Based in Fratton, MAKE is a social enterprise supported by Aldingbourne Trust, providing innovative projects to support adults with learning disabilities to develop skills to enable them to lead independent lives and gain employment within the community.

However, many of those who rely on the local services MAKE provides felt ‘isolated’ during the third lockdown, a feeling shared by many during a discussion included in the Portsmouth MP’s visit, focusing on the impact the pandemic has had on MAKE and those who use its services.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the inequalities disabled people face in England, with national data showing disabled people and those with health conditions accounting for 59% of all deaths relating to coronavirus.

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

MAKE is a fantastic organisation that is doing brilliant work to support some of the most vulnerable in our community who have also been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 over this past year.

“It’s brilliant to see that these facilities have now reopened for service users, but it’s vital services like these stay open and remain supported as we slowly unlock from this third lockdown.”

Mr Morgan previously visited MAKE last August after the first lockdown and has put questions to the Health Secretary on when government will set out a clear plan on how and when vulnerable groups will be vaccinated, along with others who are currently left out of the priority groups.

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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”.