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Portsmouth MP holds government to account for failure to ‘level-up’ constituency

Stephen Morgan MP said the government is ‘short-changing’ Portsmouth in order to help its struggling highstreets and support the city’s cultural attractions tackle of the cost of living crisis, during departmental questions in the House of Commons today.

The City MP accused Ministers of prioritising areas that suit them politically, rather than those which urgently need support and attention, including his own constituency of Portsmouth South.

The north of the city, represented by a Conservative Minister, received £20m for several projects, including an urban park, upgrades to Hilsea Lido and a new cruise terminal.

However, proposals for the south of the city have missed out on the funding needed, the Portsmouth MP has said. Gosport, which the government identified as a ‘priority 1 area’ for levelling up, also got nothing.

This includes the long-overdue regeneration of the city centre, the rejuvenation of Portsmouth Harbour’s transport hub to improve access to the Historic Dockyard and Gunwharf Quay, and improving pedestrian access between Fratton station and the football stadium. Mr Morgan has previously lobbied the Chancellor separately about these matters.

According to the latest official figures, Portsmouth has lost at least 2,000 retail sector related jobs, sitting below the regional and national levels, as it was seven years ago back in 2015.

Later this week the MP is meeting the Arts Council to ensure his constituency is prioritised for future funding.

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

Portsmouth’s highstreets and cultural assets have been left behind by this Tory government, failing to offer the support they need to kickstart our economy and begin our recovery.

“Instead of using taxpayers’ money to serve its own political ambitions, government should be ‘levelling-up’ communities like our own to revive our struggling highstreets and boost our cultural attractions. They don’t need more pantomime answers from the Secretary of State that we heard today.

“I will continue to speak up for constituents to secure the investment our city needs and deserves.”

As well as working alongside the city council, backing its Levelling Up Fund bids, questioning Ministers, and lobbying the Chancellor directly over investment in the constituency, the Portsmouth representative has vowed to continue to fight in Parliament for what the area deserves.

He is meeting with officials again over submission of further proposals to Government.

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Guildhall Trust receives £499,000 in Arts Council funding – City MP responds

Responding to news that the Guildhall Trust has been awarded £499,000 from the Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme, Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said:

“It’s fantastic to learn the Guildhall Trust has been given the support it needs to grow the vital, creative opportunities it offers to so many young people across our city.

“From my recent conversations with Guildhall Trust, I know how important this funding will be to increase access to creative spaces and help to inspire our communities.

“As Portsmouth begins its recovery, it’s critical the next generation has access to creative spaces like this to give them the platform to truly thrive. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this investment locally and will be feeding back its importance to the Arts Council in the coming weeks.”

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City MP set to open Southsea Community Cinema and Arts Centre

Stephen Morgan MP is set to open Portsmouth Film Society’s new home at the Southsea Community Cinema and Arts Centre later this month.

Opening in the heart of Southsea on 19 May with Open House from 12 – 5 pm, the new centre will be featuring local performers, films soundtracks, drums and short films.

Now based at 1-3 Palmerston Road, Portsmouth Film Society will also be hosting a reception on the day for community leaders, local artists and business leaders.

The group will be showcasing its new configurable cinema space, meeting rooms with kitchen facilities, photography and film capability, to engage with the community and gain input on how to evolve its film and educational programmes, as well as develop the space to best suit the needs of local artists and customers.

Its diverse Cinema program features a variety of genres to appeal to people of all ages with matinees and daily evening screenings funded by the British Film Institute (BFI).

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

“I’m delighted that Portsmouth Film Society has finally found a home in Southsea, after years of challenges. It has done fantastic work for local creativity and arts, from its educational programmes, to promoting and supporting local artists.

“This new centre will provide a much-needed dedicated hub where communities can come together to develop and learn more about the world of cinema.

“I look forward to seeing how the organisation’s work continues to grow in its new home, and I wish all those involved every success in providing such important services for our communities.”

Southsea Community Cinema and Arts Centre will be open from 10 am – 9pm. For more details, visit: https://southseacinema.co.uk/opening/

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City MP helps launch new campaign to promote ‘World-class’ Portsmouth attractions

Stephen Morgan MP spoke at the launch of a new city campaign at Spinnaker Tower on Thursday evening to boost visitors to the city and mark the start of English Tourism Week.

The new campaign includes an events guide highlighting everything happening this year from international spectacles like Victorious Festival and the Great South Run to smaller community events such as the Live at the Bandstand, King George V fireworks display and Heritage Open Days.

The council is also partnering with South Western Railways to showcase Portsmouth on landmark digital billboards at London Waterloo Station and will be attending a number of trade events in the capital during English Tourism Week, 18-27 March.

Attractions across the city are getting behind the push with a range of special offers during the week including £30 off an ultimate explorer ticket at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard; 20% discount at Exploria; special offers on a range of performances at Portsmouth Guildhall and 20% off Hover travel tickets.

Portsmouth residents can also get 25% discount on a visit to the Spinnaker Tower or 40% off entry to D-Day Story. More information on all the special offers can be found by searching “English Tourism Week” at www.visitportsmouth.co.uk

Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, said:

“Portsmouth has world class attractions like the historic dockyard and D-Day Story and I’m delighted to see local efforts made to promote our city to a wider audience.

“Our tourist, cultural and historic attractions are increasingly the envy of the world and a source of national pride.

“So as we mark this English Tourism Week, I’m calling on local people to redouble our efforts to shout about what our city has to offer, and to use our assets as a symbol of the kind of city and country we are now and aspire to be in the future.”

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Local MP calls for nominations for best Curry House in his constituency

Stephen Morgan MP has called for local nominations for the best South Asian restaurant in his constituency of Portsmouth South, as part of this year’s Tiffin Cup.

The Tiffin Cup, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, seeks to promote the importance of South Asian restaurants throughout the UK. There are at present 9,000 restaurants and takeaways in the country and they contribute over £2 billion to the British economy. Each year the competition has attracted over 100 nominees from MPs and Peers.

The restaurant with the most nominations from constituents will be nominated by Stephen Morgan MP to the Tiffin Cup judges. Following Stephen’s local nomination there will be a Regional Final from which 12 Finalists are chosen.

At the final, each restaurant will be asked to prepare a signature dish which will be marked by a panel of expert Judges, chaired by the Celebrity Chef Ainsley Harriott MBE. The winner is crowned Tiffin Cup winner for the year.

Local residents can share their nominations to Stephen’s office via the form on his website here.

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

Local businesses have really struggled to cope with the impacts of the pandemic, particularly those in hospitality.

“It’s so important that we support our highstreets and Portsmouth businesses, so I urge residents to visit local, get in touch and nominate their favourite South Asian restaurant for this year’s Tiffin Cup awards.

“We have a fantastic set of restaurants in our community that need our support, so it’s vital that we champion them and secure the wider recognition they richly deserve.”

The deadline for local nominations is November 19.

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Portsmouth MP welcomes World Bookshop Day and urges constituents to ‘support local’

Stephen Morgan MP has urged city residents to support their local bookshops, as he underlined their importance in education and development whilst shopping at his local bookstore for World Bookshop Day.

As one of the busiest times for the book trade, the coming weeks are when publishers launch their biggest books ahead of the festive shopping period. Booksellers, publishers, authors, illustrators and poets work collaboratively on the campaign to encourage consumers to shop in their local bookshop and ensure their high street is thriving.

Recent data from the Institute of Place Management demonstrated that UK and Irish booksellers play a crucial role in the recovery and regeneration of our high streets, with over 80% of bookshops surveyed contributing to at least 20 of the 25 factors for a thriving town centre.

Growth of websites such as Bookshop.org and Hive over the past few years has allowed online retailers to support independent bookshops offering an alternative to online multinationals.

Purchasing a book from Pigeon Books, a stone’s throw from the city MP’s constituency office on Albert Road, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

“It’s so important that we recognise and support the role independent bookshops play in our community, both as contributors to our local economy and as route of access to learning.

“I was really pleased to be able to support local by purchasing a book from Pigeon Books that have gone above and beyond during the pandemic to serve our city. I thank them and all local stores for the crucial part they play in getting Portsmouth reading.

“If you’re out and about this weekend, stop by at a bookstore and support our city’s local businesses.”

You can find your local bookshops at www.booksaremybag.com/HomeSearch.

The city MP hosted an event to promote the work of independent bookstores before Pigeon Books found their home on Albert Road, and regularly showcases the work of local authors.

He settled on Stuart Maconie’s ‘The Nanny State Made Me’ as his Bookshop Day purchase!

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Portsmouth MP steps in to progress Fratton Park infrastructure plans in meeting with PFC and Network Rail

Stephen Morgan MP has stepped up his continued efforts to support development proposals at Fratton Park and improve access to the stadium by bringing together representatives of Portsmouth Football Club and Network Rail.

Portsmouth Football Club said in June this year that the club was “in dialogue with local government about much needed infrastructure improvements in the local vicinity to facilitate access to the stadium along the key transportation routes to Fratton Park.”

The city MP has been calling for some time for the city council to play an active part in supporting the club to get its development plans off the ground, at a time when government is making money available for regeneration.

In a summit set up this week, representatives of Network Rail and Portsmouth Football Club met with the Portsmouth MP at Fratton station for a meeting, which included a walk around the site to better understand access challenges from the station on match days and wider congestion issues.

The group agreed a set of ideas and took away a number of actions to improve links to the stadium, as well as wider future rail investment plans for Portsmouth and the region.

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

“For me, our club’s success is our city’s success and as we recover from this crisis it’s vital we see the investment that’s needed to improve connectivity and access to Fratton Park, which will be critical for securing the city’s future prosperity.

“I was glad to facilitate discussions between the club and Network Rail and I was encouraged to see some progress made on this issue which has been stalling for some time now.

“I will continue to do all I can to support the club’s ambitions for this project and will be urging the city council to do so too to help make these plans a reality for fans.”

Andrew Cullen, Chief Executive of Portsmouth Football Club, added,

“We are extremely grateful for both the keen interest and support that Stephen Morgan MP continues to invest in the proposals for the future development of Fratton Park and the associated impact on local transport and infrastructure.

“We look forward to further discussions with all the various stakeholders to shape and deliver an exciting and inspiring future, both for the football club and the city of Portsmouth.”

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Portsmouth MP praises ‘fantastic creativity’ of new indoor skatepark to be converted from disused supermarket

Stephen Morgan MP has praised the ‘fantastic creativity’ of a new project that will see the old Sainsbury’s supermarket on Commercial Road converted into an indoor skatepark.

The long-term future of the Undercover Skatepark Project will be decided by Portsmouth City Council, which in the meantime has granted the project a temporary licence to use the site.

Plans include an indoor half pipe, as well as facilities for community arts and other wheeled sports.

Visiting the site, Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said,

“It’s fantastic to see the creativity used here to breathe fresh life back into a large space which would have otherwise gone unused for some time.

“This will be a brilliant facility for our city which will help to support our local economic recovery from this crisis, by driving more people back to the high-street, whilst also tackling anti-social behaviour by providing a new safe haven for younger people.

“I want to see more local projects like this supported if we are to deliver Portsmouth’s cultural and economic recovery.”

Jacob Skinner, one of the organisers behind the project, added,

“It was great to have Stephen come visit our site.  Having the backing of our local MP is important to the project, it also reaffirms the importance of what we are doing. 

“We are building a wheeled sports, leisure and creative facility for the city so it’s nice to know we have it’s support.  I look forward to seeing him have a roll around when we open!”

Undercover Skatepark’s team of about 20 volunteers hope to have the indoor park operational by the end of the year.

You can donate to the project via its fundraising page here: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/undercover-skatepark-project

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‘Portsmouth’s GCSE students deserve huge credit, but they’ve been let down’ – local MP during results day visit

Stephen Morgan MP congratulated local GCSE students during a visit to ARK Charter Academy on Thursday for ‘overcoming huge obstacles’, despite disruption to their learning, after multiple lockdowns over the past 18 months.

The Portsmouth MP was speaking to students, parents and staff at the city school, as results were collected, to learn more about the challenges they have faced over the last year and a half and what more can be done to improve education in Portsmouth.

Children across the South East have missed an estimated 101 days of in-person school – over half a normal school year – but the Conservatives’ meagre education ‘catch-up’ plan provides just £0.93 per child for every day of in-person school missed.

Meanwhile, Labour’s £15 billion Child Recovery plan would invest £982 million into the South East to ensure all schools can deliver a new range of activities and support – from sports to drama or music – to fuel post lockdown recovery, whilst starting to address entrenched learning gap which sees children on free school meals falling behind their peers.

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

“GCSE students across Portsmouth deserve enormous credit for their achievements and hard work over the last year and a half, despite the challenges they faced only made worse by this government’s actions.

“From delaying a circuit breaker that led to more hours of lost learning, to a ‘catch-up plan’ that doesn’t even touch the sides, Portsmouth’s students, parents and teachers have been left by the wayside by this government.

“I’m incredibly proud of the determination and achievements of Portsmouth’s students this year, as I have heard first-hand today, but to recover from this pandemic and challenging period, this generation needs far more support from Government.”

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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.”