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City MP votes to defeat Conservatives “divisive and harmful hate speech Bill”

City MP Stephen Morgan has voted to defeat the Conservatives’ new law for universities, branded a “hate speech bill”.

The Conservatives’ planned law would enable people from Holocaust Deniers to anti-vaxxers to sue universities or student unions if they are denied a platform to spread their ideas.

Mr Morgan has backed Labour’s record in Government which saw the Party enshrine the right to freedom of expression in UK, but warned the Conservatives’ plans are trying to solve a problem which does not exist resulting in people with offensive and dangerous views being able to sap funding from universities. 

There is no evidence to support the Conservatives’ claim that further action is needed to protect free speech on university campuses. A survey last year found just six out of 10,000 events on campus been cancelled – four due to incorrect paperwork, one was moved to a larger venue, and one was to promote a pyramid scheme.

However, the Government’s plans would open the door to vexatious legal action, which risks tying up universities and student unions in costly legal battles. Alongside external speakers, university staff would be given a new right to take out legal action against institutions if they were passed over for promotions or new jobs, while student unions could face court battles if they turned away speakers.

Conservative MPs lined up to vote for the proposals which could put universities in a position where they are being sued by anti-vaxxers, Holocaust Deniers and those looking to spread division across our campuses.

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan said:

“It’s disgraceful that the Conservatives’ are introducing new laws that could give a boost to Holocaust Deniers, anti-vaxxers and people harmful to the public interest.

“Students have been neglected throughout the pandemic and the Government has failed to create the jobs and training opportunities young people need. Instead they are manufacturing a debate that will sow division and hate.

“These are clearly the wrong priorities for Britain and I’m proud to stand against these dangerous plans.” 

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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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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)

 

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‘March Budget fails Portsmouth families and the Excluded’, says city MP

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government’s recently announced budget during a parliamentary debate today for failing to deliver for local families, those in the creative sectors and the Excluded.

During the debate, Mr Morgan argued the budget was a ‘missed opportunity’ to support local businesses, particularly those in the cultural and creative industries, highlighting Victorious festival as just one example for Portsmouth.

It comes as in February it was estimated that over 15,000 people in Portsmouth were still furloughed by their employer in late January.

Meanwhile, the number of local people under 25 needing to claim out-of-work support has more than doubled in the last year, rising by 135%, according to the latest figures.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

“Local families and those in the creative sectors have been let down by this government and left forgotten – a running theme of successive Tory governments for our city.

“This budget was a chance to correct the mistakes of past and inequalities that exist in our community that this pandemic has both exposed and sadly made even worse. Instead, we got a budget of more of the same.”

“I will continue to speak up for our city and ensure the local fears of the damages this economic plan will cause are heard up in Westminster.”

Ahead last week’s budget announcement, Mr Morgan backed the Official Opposition’s ‘Jobs Promise’ call for young people in Portsmouth and across the country.

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Portsmouth MP calls for government-backed insurance scheme for festivals

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to introduce an insurance scheme for festivals across the country to ensure they can go ahead this year.

It comes as the Portsmouth MP has written to the Chancellor on behalf of local festival ‘Victorious’, a well-known and popular annual event for the city.

The letter outlines that whilst the festival can in theory go ahead in August according to the recently announced government roadmap, existing providers are unwilling to offer insurance due to current uncertainty, putting the festival at risk.

According to the letter, the music event creates at least 154 full-time equivalent jobs each year and generates more than £12m Gross Value Added to the local economy.

Meanwhile, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has previously reported that more than 90% of its members face costs that could ruin their businesses as a result of cancelled events and almost none were covered by insurance for cancellation related to Covid-19.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“The government has the perfect opportunity to introduce a government-backed insurance scheme for festivals, allowing them to bounce back this summer.

“It would secure jobs, promote local economic growth and provide entertainment after a long and difficult winter.”

James Ralls, Managing Director, Victorious Festivals, also said,

“Insurance is a key part of our preparations for Victorious Festival this year and the last piece in the puzzle to enable an amazing summer of live events to go ahead.

“I urge the government to help enable the UK creative industries to thrive once again by introducing a government backed insurance scheme.”

Mr Morgan has previously called for the government to protect creative workers and the wider related sectors.

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‘Government must deliver on its promise to creative workers’

I know from my postbag that many constituents are concerned by the issue of work permits for creative workers now that the Brexit transition period has ended.

The work musicians, performers, technicians and writers do in bringing creativity to our lives is important in and of itself, but it is also a hugely important part of our city’s economy and has to be part of the recovery plan for Portsmouth as we emerge from the pandemic.

The industry was one of the fastest growing sectors before the pandemic and a real example of Britain shining on the world stage as we are a net exporter of music worldwide.

I believe it is not acceptable that UK-based creative workers miss out. These opportunities are even more essential in the context of how hard-hit creatives have been in the pandemic. Incomes have been lost and so many people have fallen through the gaps in government support.

The current situation will prevent many younger, newer artists from touring and progressing their careers. It will also prevent European acts from touring here – hitting our music venues when they need it most.

Labour wants the Government to deliver on its promise to creative workers that they won’t be subject to unnecessary bureaucracy in the post-Brexit world. UK-based creative workers should not be disadvantaged by the Government’s failures to stand up for their jobs and nor should our venues miss out on EU-based talent.

Ministers need to put this situation right. I will continue to push the Government on this important issue of concern for Portsmouth people.

Stephen Morgan MP

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City MP welcomes new funding for culture in Portsmouth but calls for further action

Welcoming news today that local organisations from the Kings Theatre to Portsmouth Guildhall Trust, Wedgewood Rooms to Mary Rose Museum, will receive culture recovery money, Stephen Morgan MP has said Portsmouth expects the government ‘to go further’.

The Portsmouth South representative said:

“I am delighted that a number of Portsmouth’s arts, music and theatre venues and museums have secured much needed money from the culture recovery fund as announced today, and pleased to have played a part in making this happen.

Arts and culture form part of the soul of our city. Yet coronavirus and the economic crisis risks thousands of redundancies across the country unless the Government introduces sector-specific support.

This sector represents around a fifth of the economy, driving so much growth, yet account for less than one per cent of government spending. It is clear the scale of the challenge is such that help to date just doesn’t go far enough.

I will continue to stand up for culture in our city, lobbying for Portsmouth until Ministers step up and act with tailored support.

Portsmouth expects the Government to go further. If they don’t soon, we risk well-loved assets going under as a result of the coronavirus crisis”.

 

 

 

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City MP calls for urgent government support for EFL clubs in response to Covid-19

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to provide emergency financial support and guidance for EFL clubs, with many struggling to stay afloat financially due to the government ban on fan attendance in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This comes as EFL clubs, which includes Portsmouth Football Club, lost £50m of gate income in the 2019/20 season by playing matches behind closed doors (Championship) or curtailing the season (Leagues One and Two) and will lose a further £200m if crowds do not return during the 2020/21 campaign.

EFL teams typically have a higher dependency on ticket, confectionary and merchandise sales.

The Premier League is also reportedly set to meet today to discuss a £250m emergency support package for the EFL, but the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South has called for urgent government support and guidance.

Stephen Morgan MP said,

“For EFL clubs like Portsmouth FC, it is becoming an increasingly untenable position to be expected to continue operating without further government support.

“EFL clubs are in a very different position to clubs in the Premier League, as lower league clubs depend much more on revenue streams dependent on fan attendance, which now looks very unlikely to happen for the foreseeable future.”

This comes following comments made by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in June that football should ‘support itself’ through the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Morgan, added,

“As I have said before, our football club’s success is our city’s success. EFL clubs are intrinsically part of the fabric of their communities. Whether that be through the jobs or income the club brings to the local economy, or the fantastic work of the community foundations like Portsmouth’s very own Pompey in the Community (PiTC).

“If the government is serious about ‘levelling up’, it will provide the financial support and clarity EFL clubs like Portsmouth urgently need.”

Mr Morgan has also written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Oliver Dowden MP, raising this issue, following an online event with Portsmouth fans and the opposition’s DCMS team last month.

The MP has vowed to continue to take action to help the club and fellow fans.

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City MP calls for Portsmouth FC fans to share their views on the future of football

Stephen Morgan MP has called for Portsmouth FC fans to take part in an online discussion to share their views on what improvements need to be made for the future of the wider national game. The online hour-long discussion will take place on Thursday 10 September at 6:15pm. You can register for the call here.

The event has been organised and will be attended by Shadow Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Jo Stevens MP, Shadow Sports Minister, Alison McGovern MP and Stephen Morgan MP. The key focuses of the discussion will be:

• Supporter representation within clubs and the wider game

• How their club is dealing with the ongoing Covid-19 situation

• Previous experiences and fan priorities for the future of the game

This comes as Covid-19 continues to put huge financial pressure on Football League clubs. The new football season approaches with increasingly more clubs struggling financially.

Across the country fans have felt their voices are not being heard or their views not listened to.

Mr Morgan commented:

“For many areas across the country, local football clubs are the beating heart of their communities. Whether that be through local support initiatives for vulnerable people, the economic benefits in terms of income and jobs or just simply providing a chance to escape for ninety minutes.

“However, in recent years, we’ve seen increasing concerns from football fans across England that their views are not being heard and a fading connection between them and their clubs.”

There have also been growing concerns around the management of club owners and prominent cases of clubs entering administration, most notably Wigan AFC and Bury FC.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“There have been serious causes for concern of late of how clubs like Wigan can enter administration, despite their stature in both the community and football league.

“It is vital for football fans to have their say on this issue and I encourage as many Portsmouth fans who can to take part in this important discussion.”

Mr Morgan recently visited the CEO of Portsmouth FC, Mark Catlin, and Director of Projects for Pompey in the Community, Clare Martin, to get an update on their recent work and future plans.

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Portsmouth MP backs Southsea Dinosaur community project

This summer Aspex in Gunwharf Quays is celebrating ten years since Luna Park towered over Southsea Common.

As a response to the national lockdown caused by Covid-19, and to mark the tenth anniversary since the Ultrasaurus sculpture astounded thousands of visitors to Portsmouth, the art gallery has commissioned Heather and Ivan Morison to rebuild their 2010 artwork in Virtual Reality.

Aspex is also launching a crowdfunding campaign to ‘Bring Back The Southsea Dinosaur’, raising public support for a permanent tribute to Luna Park to be installed next year.

If successful the campaign will fund a permanent piece of public art which combines a bronze sculpture and integrated augmented reality archive.

Backing the community project, city MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Known affectionately by fellow Portsmouth residents as ‘The Southsea Dinosaur’ the sculpture was visited, photographed, climbed on and enjoyed by thousands of people until it unexpectedly burnt down in October 2010.

 I welcome Aspex’s latest venture with our city’s communities ten years on, from cake competitions, to the trail, to commissioning new work, this is a great way to connect Portsmouth residents with art during this challenging time for our communities”.

To find out more about fundraising for the permanent tribute to Luna Park to be installed on Southsea Common next year visit the Bring Back The Southsea Dinosaur page here.

As well as the crowdfunding initiative, Aspex have organised for fifty Ultrasaurus dinosaurs on posters and in windows of local businesses and organisations across the city, which can be spotted throughout August and shared on social media at #SouthseaDinosaur.