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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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Government response to ‘90,000’ HGV driver shortage is ‘kicking the can down the road’, says local MP

Stephen Morgan MP has labelled the Government’s response to tackle a shortage of HGV drivers as “kicking the can down the road”.

The driver shortage has been estimated to be between 76,000 to 90,000 drivers, according to Logistics UK. (1)

It comes after a range of senior Labour frontbenchers responded to an open Government letter to the road haulage industry, underlining that the new measures are not enough to address the scale of the shortage crisis. (2) (3)

This shortage existed before the Covid-19 pandemic but has been worsened by Brexit making the UK a less attractive location for overseas drivers, primarily due to increased bureaucracy at UK borders.

In a joint letter, the five frontbenchers said the Government have only offered “short-term solutions” which risk compromising the safety of already exhausted drivers, increasing their working hours, and putting road users in danger by diluting test requirements for new drivers.

The letter warns food shortages could last through to the end of the year and urges the Government not to “ruin yet another Christmas for British families, after the chaos of last year”.

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

“These government measures responding to the HGV driver shortage crisis will just kick the can down the road for another year.

The shortage is having a severe impact on businesses and consumers right now, locally and nationally, yet the Government is doing nothing to boost recruitment, particularly of women – which could make a crucial difference to the number of drivers.

“Government must take the steps needed to deal with the driving test backlog, invest in upskilling UK workers, and act swiftly to boost driver recruitment. This means not ignoring half of the population and taking steps to encourage more women into jobs in the industry.”

One of the frontbenchers who signed the joint-letter, Kerry McCarthy MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Roads and Future Transport, also said:

“This crisis is affecting businesses and consumers now, and the Government needs to understand that.

 “Labour would take the steps needed to deal with the driving test backlog, invest in upskilling UK workers, and act swiftly to boost driver recruitment. Crucially, we would do this all without compromising road safety.”

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Local MP accuses Government of breaking its pledge to support veterans into work

Stephen Morgan MP has slammed the Government for breaking its pledge to help personnel, veterans and their families find work after they leave the Armed Forces. 

In 2019, the Government announced plans to employ 100 specialist advisers – or ‘Armed Forces Champions’ – in job centres across the country. But Ministers now admit that just half that number will be hired.

The change means that there will be just one Armed Forces Champion to support every 14,000 working age veterans into employment. And a single specialist adviser could be set to cover all 29 job centres in the local Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Isle of Wight area.

There are 121,472 veterans of working age in the South East Region.

The unemployment rate for veterans is 7%, almost double level for the general population at 4.8%. In just Portsmouth alone, there are 5,083 veterans of working age.

Ministers have faced criticism from Labour and Service charities that their Armed Forces Bill doesn’t provide any further assistance to Forces personnel, veterans and their families to gain employment. The Government told its MPs to vote against a Labour amendment to widen the scope of the Bill at Report Stage to include provisions to support veterans into work.

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

“It is clear that Forces personnel, veterans and their families in Portsmouth need more support to find work, yet the Government has broken its pledge to provide specialist advice.

“This is yet another example of Ministers failing to match their words with action.

“That’s why I will be taking action to ensure the government is held to account for breaking its promise and will be pushing to see what it will be doing to remedy it as soon as possible.

“Labour will always honour the commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant. This government is treating it with contempt.”

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey, also said:

“Ministers are failing our Forces personnel and veterans. They have outstanding skills from their military service but many need help to get civilian employers to see their talents or to deal with problems in getting work.

“Labour want to see Ministers do more to support our veterans get work and successful civilian careers.”

 

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Support for young people ‘vital’ for city’s recovery as local MP tours new hub to boost youth employment

Stephen Morgan MP has underlined the importance of young people getting the support they need to find their route to employment as the city begins its economic recovery.

It comes following the Portsmouth MP’s visit to a new hub in the city that has been launched to directly support young people aged 16-24 on Universal Credit to find work.

My Future in Portsmouth Youth Hub is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), paying for 3 full time staff through Portsmouth City Council and allocating 2 part-time DWP Work Coaches.

The age groups are particularly vulnerable to the economic impact of the pandemic, with over 1,900 young people included, representing 19% of Universal Credit claimants. This level has been consistent since the middle of last year and compares to pre-Covid averages of around 720 young people.

The hub is a ‘one-stop service’ that helps job seekers aged between 16 and 24 to find work, by:

• Helping people into work (CV updating, job searching, writing applications and cover letters and preparing for interviews)
• Confidence building
• Health and wellbeing
• Housing
• Managing debt
• Accessing benefits
• Mental health support
• Health and wellbeing advice
• Discussing options, including: Kickstart, apprenticeships, traineeships, adult education and paid employment.

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

“Young people have been amongst the worst affected by the pandemic, so I’m really glad to see authorities working together to help provide the support they need to secure their futures and our city’s recovery.

“My Future in Portsmouth Youth Hub will provide a really important service for local young people to find the work they need, many of whom will be looking to get their first job in tough circumstances, so my thanks to those in Portsmouth who have helped to put this into action.”

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Statement from Stephen Morgan MP: Vaccine Passports

In recent days, many of you have been in touch regarding my position on the implementation of ‘Vaccine Passports’.

It is important that we look at the detail of what the Government puts forward regarding vaccine passports, but Labour has been clear that the use of Covid vaccination status alone will exclude those who can’t be vaccinated or haven’t had the jab because of delays.

Being double jabbed doesn’t prove you aren’t carrying the virus and I believe testing for access to venues would be more efficient.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has chopped and changed its advice, making it impossible for people, sports clubs and businesses to plan.

Take Portsmouth FC for example. To insist on the use of vaccine passports less than a month before the start of the season would cause major disruption to clubs like ours across the country.

We all want to open our city and the wider economy as quickly as possible and Labour will study the government’s proposals carefully, but they must follow the science, be pragmatic and ensure no one is excluded where it is reasonably avoidable.

Stephen Morgan MP

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City MP responds to 3% pay rise for some NHS staff

Responding to the government’s announcement that nurses and other NHS workers will receive a 3% pay rise, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Ministers have been dragged kicking and screaming to a 3% rise, which will still be bitterly disappointing for the NHS staff who cared for our City during the pandemic.

“Millions of other public sector staff including police, teachers, junior doctors, care workers and our armed forces will still face a real-terms pay cut this year.

“This was a moment to recognise and reward the service of our key workers, yet this government continues to squander taxpayers’ money on crony contracts and vanity projects.

“Ministers must get their priorities right. This is not just about money, it is a test of who we are as a nation.”

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Portsmouth MP demands assurances of human rights commitments in future trade deals

Stephen Morgan MP has demanded the government provides assurances it will not deviate from its human rights commitments in future trade deals, as it did this week on its promise of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on Official Development Assistance (ODA).

The Portsmouth representative was speaking in the House of Commons today during departmental international trade questions.

Since 1995, successive UK governments have believed in principle that all new trade treaties should contain “essential elements human rights clauses” making any treaty conditional on the commitments relating to human rights.

Despite this, the UK has recently begun trade negotiations for accession to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The CPTPP is a trade agreement between 11 countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam), covering 500 million people.

Meanwhile, the trade deal contains no clear, strong human rights protections, doing nothing to prevent Malaysia deporting more than 1,000 Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar in February.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

“The government’s promises simply aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

“First its reneges on its minimum commitment for overseas aid, now its pushing ahead with striking trade deals with countries that have shocking human rights records.

“Trade with countries around the world will be crucial to our recovery from this crisis, but it cannot come at the cost of our core values. Government must ensure any future trade deals contain strong human rights protections and profit never comes before principle.”

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Portsmouth MP backs plan to ‘make, buy and sell more in Britain’

Stephen Morgan MP has backed a pledge to make, buy and sell more in Britain and in Portsmouth under a Labour government, as they unveil a plan to raise standards, award more public contracts to British businesses and bring the jobs of the future to the UK.

The Official Opposition has set out in Government it would use the social and environmental stretch clauses in public contracts to raise standards, mirroring the approach taken in other countries including France and the US. As well as raising standards nationally and globally, this move will help boost British business and create new jobs.

New proposals from the Shadow Chancellor would seize the opportunities for the long term of the post-pandemic, post-Brexit economy and help to shape a more secure and resilient future for Britain, especially in the green and tech ideas of the future.

Labour will make more in Britain by giving more public contracts to British companies, big and small, by:

  • Asking every public body to give more contracts to British firms big and small, using stretching social, environmental and labour clauses in contract design to raise standards and spend and make more in Britain.
  • Passing a law requiring public bodies to report on how much they are buying from British businesses including SMEs.
  • Leading a culture change in government, putting the growth of local industries first, and reviewing the pipeline of all major infrastructure projects to explore how to increase the materials made in Britain, upskill workers to get the jobs of the future.

Labour will help bring jobs of the future to Britain, by:

  • Investing in reshoring jobs in the same way we invest in Foreign Direct Investment, by helping every business considering reshoring access the expertise and support they need.
  • Working with colleges and universities to make sure we’re honing the skills and apprenticeships for the jobs of the future.

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

“As we recover from the pandemic, we have a chance to seize new opportunities and shape a new future for Britain and for Portsmouth.

“Labour will get those sectors and our economy firing on all cylinders by giving people new skills for the jobs of the future here in the UK, bringing security and resilience back to our economy and public services, and helping our city’s high streets thrive again.

“This plan announced by the Shadow Chancellor is the right thing to do for Portsmouth, and the right thing to do for Britain”.

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City MP labels PM as ‘far too slow’ and ‘letting business down’ as Covid restrictions extended

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government for giving one week’s warning to the country that national Covid-19 restrictions will be extended by four weeks.

Since the emergence of the Delta or ‘Indian variant’, cases of Covid-19 have been on the rise, with concerns if infections levels are not brought under control, too much pressure could be put on NHS capacity.

Since 11 May, the rate of cases per 100,000 over a 7-day period in the UK has risen from 22.4 to 67.5, according to the latest available data published by the government.

Meanwhile in Portsmouth, over the same period, the rate of cases per 100,000 has risen from 7.9 to 28.4.

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

“The Prime Minister promised us a way out of this. With the delta variant now dominant in the UK, and 73 per cent of delta cases in unvaccinated people, ministerial incompetence has sadly led us to this decision.

“The government has acted far too late, leaving businesses and others in Portsmouth incredibly anxious while they wait on the government that for too long dithered and delayed to make this decision.

“We must be driven by the data on decisions like these, but it has come far too late.”

The Portsmouth MP has also been contacted by a number of constituents on the impact of the government’s decision on the wedding industry.

The local representative added:

“The hospitality industry is likely to be one of the worst affected industries by today’s announcement, with a quarter of the industry still closed.

“I know from my postbag many are also concerned by the impact this decision could have on their businesses involved in the wedding industry, and I will continue to do all I can to secure the support and greater certainty they need.”

Mr Morgan has vowed to continue to engage a range of local businesses on the impact of the government roadmap and lifting of restrictions.

 

 

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City MP pays visit to ‘vital business for Portsmouth’s economy’, Brittany Ferries

Stephen Morgan MP has met with one of the key businesses of Portsmouth’s economy, Brittany Ferries, to understand its current challenges, including preparations for when restrictions ease and the uncertainty around green, amber and red list countries.

The company, which serves destinations in France and northern Spain, says international holidays by sea could be set for a big come-back.

In the UK, Brittany Ferries sails from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth. It carries around 2.5 million passengers a year (pre-Covid average), 85 percent of whom are British.

The Portsmouth representative met with the travel firm’s UK Managing Director, John Napton, as well as other senior colleagues.

The visit is one of the many businesses and organisations the city MP has met with over the last month, as part of his ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ to support the city’s recovery from the pandemic, encourage visitors to the city’s attractions and keep the pound in Portsmouth.

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

“Brittany Ferries is a vital part of our city’s economy, employing many people across Portsmouth and generating income to our city’s port which sustains local public services.

“For businesses like these, the uncertainty around both the easing of restrictions and the confusing red, amber and green list countries, makes it incredibly difficult for them to plan ahead and ultimately ensure their business recovery.

“I will continue to speak up for businesses based in our city, encourage residents to show their ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ to support them, as well as push to get the certainty they need from government.”