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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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Portsmouth MP welcomes new commission to rebuild Britain’s high streets and revitalise town centres

Stephen Morgan MP has thrown his support behind Labour’s new independent Commission ‘Rebuilding Our High Streets’, launched by the Shadow Chancellor today. The commission will seek to bring together experts from businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality, as well as representatives of the trade union, local government cooperative and social enterprise sectors.

The announcement comes as new figures reveal that over the last decade high streets across the UK have lost:

  • 9,775 shops
  • 5,785 pubs
  • 7,400 bank branches
  • 1,195 libraries

Meanwhile, the South East has lost 1080 shops, 945 pubs and 120 libraries over the same period.

The Commission will meet regularly over the course of the next six months to offer independent advice to the Party on issues such as:

  • How the high streets of the 2020s and beyond can be supported to thrive, as great places where people can shop, socialise, meet, work and live.
  • Bringing empty commercial properties back into use for existing and new businesses.
  • Levelling the playing field between bricks and mortar businesses and online firms.
  • Promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in our high streets, reflecting the needs of local communities.

The UK’s high streets have been hit by unprecedented challenges throughout the pandemic and face more threats in the coming year. These include government changes to planning rules in August, which will allow shops to be converted into low quality flats over the heads of local communities, and the staged return of business rates, with firms liable to pay full rates again in April next year.

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

“This year has brought unprecedented challenges to businesses and organisations across the country that depend on the local high street, none more so than here in Portsmouth.

“Labour is determined to deliver a brighter future for our high streets as part of our mission to make Britain the best place to grow up and grow old in, which is why I’m proud to support the Rebuilding Our High Streets Commission.

“Our vision is not one harking back to one of the past, but finding ways to make our town centres places we can be proud of and where communities can come together. This Commission will offer independent advice to Labour on how we achieve that.”

Mr Morgan has had regular meetings with local businesses and organisations linked to Portsmouth’s high streets throughout the pandemic, working on their behalf to get the support they need.

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Labour calls on the government to invest in and secure British jobs ​for the defence sector

The Official Opposition is demanding greater protection of jobs in the defence sector by calling on the government to adopt a ‘British-built by default’ approach, intended to boost manufacturing within the UK supply chain, a move welcomed by Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP.

Labour says a new threshold is needed for equipment to be sourced outside of the UK, requiring proof that defence projects cannot be built under similar terms in Britain.

In addition, the Party is calling on ministers to report annually on the proportion of defence spending going through British companies, and to improve procurement rules to promote prosperity in supply chain businesses throughout the UK’s towns, regions, and industries such as steel.

The Party accuse the Conservative government of br​eaking promises ​made to the Armed Forces and wasting taxpayer money through its decade-long policy of ‘open competition by default’ that has seen the UK buying off-the–shelf defence equipment from overseas.

New analysis by Labour shows:  

  • Over £6 billion of allocated spending in government’s Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper is going on off-the-shelf purchases of surveillance aircraft from overseas.
  • A naval contract worth £1.5 billion for Fleet Support Ships has been unfulfilled since 2018, due to Ministerial indecision ​about making the contract British-led.
  • 30,000 defence industry jobs lost since 2010 under the Conservatives

Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the Labour Party said:

“Prioritising British businesses through defence spending is not only investment in jobs, but in our communities, and a more secure economy.  

“Under this Prime Minister, we have seen broken promises and dither and delay, at the expense of UK supply chain businesses and taxpayer’s money.  

“We cannot go back to business as usual. Labour will protect jobs in the defence sector, harness the skills and talents of our workers, and will deliver value for money for British people, to ensure a prosperous recovery out of the pandemic.” 

John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, added:

“The Prime Minister has already broken promises made to military personnel by cutting 10,000 posts in the Army.

“On the Tories’ watch, we have also lost tens of thousands of jobs across the industry and wasted time on key contracts.  

“Of course, there will be essential equipment or systems which makes strategic sense for Britain to develop with allies or to buy direct from overseas, but we want to see a much higher bar for this”.

Stephen Morgan, Shadow Armed Forces Minister and Portsmouth South MP, added:

“We know only too well here in Portsmouth that when done well, defence spending has a multiplier effect, strengthening our UK economy. That’s why I have been calling on the Government for some time to build more Naval ships in Britain.

“Covid has exposed the risks of relying on foreign supply chains.

“I welcome Keir Starmer’s contribution to this debate. Labour’s ‘British by default’ policy would help secure vital jobs in Portsmouth as our city recovers from the pandemic as well as strengthen the UK’s sovereignty and security.” 

 

 

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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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‘Defence jobs are vital to Luton’s recovery’ – MPs meet with defence firm 

Labour’s Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP, visited Luton to meet with bosses at defence firm, Leonardo. The international company employs 1000 people at their Luton site, contributing 8% share local jobs in Luton’s manufacturing sector. 

Accompanied by Council Leader, Hazel Simmons, and Luton South MP, Rachel Hopkins, the Shadow Minister sat down with the electronic aerospace, defence and security developers to discuss the £123 million contribution the firm makes to the area.

Stephen Morgan MP, the Shadow Armed Forces Minister, said:

“It was fantastic to visit Leonardo to hear more about its work to support Luton during the pandemic and its wider contribution to the local economy. 

“Hazel and Rachel have done a tremendous job working with local business to ensure the jobs-based recovery Luton needs and is an excellent example of Labour working constructively with industry to achieve that wider national objective.”

Council Leader, Hazel Simmons MBE, said:

“I am really proud of the positive relationship that Luton Council has built with Leonardo.   

“Their well-developed apprenticeship scheme attracts young people from across the Borough, and it was great to meet with executives to learn more about how we can boost highly skilled, well paid jobs here in Luton. These are the jobs that will help Luton bounce back after Covid.”  

Luton South MP, Rachel Hopkins, added

“Leonardo is an important part of Luton’s manufacturing sector, and it was positive to hear about their apprenticeship schemes, support for women in STEM, and how they moved into making PPE to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic. 

Luton’s recovery must have good, well-paid jobs at its heart. Labour is committed to working with Trade Unions and businesses to help rebuild our economy.” 

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City MP welcomes vision to reverse ten years of city centre decline under the Conservatives

Labour has set out a “bright future for Britain’s high streets” and launched a five-point plan to “put communities first” in support of our community’s high streets.

The party’s plan, set out by the Shadow Chancellor includes:

  1. Stopping the Conservatives selling off Britain’s high streets for low-quality housing, by scrapping new planning rules.
  2. Empowering councils to fill empty shops with new businesses to breathe life into town centres.
  3. Challenging the government to use Tax Day on 23 March to level the tax playing field for high street businesses and online firms.
  4. Establishing a High Streets Fightback Fund to help businesses hit hard by the pandemic get back on their feet.
  5. Protecting family finances by reversing Rishi Sunak’s economically illiterate hammer blows to people’s pockets.

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

“I’ve long argued that the Government must do more, and our council do better, in tackling the decline of our city’s high streets.

That is why I have been pushing Ministers to invest in Portsmouth and pleased to have helped secure funding for the future of high streets as our city recovers from this pandemic. But in order to reverse the decline we see in Portsmouth’s shopping areas we must put communities first.

The Conservatives have completely failed to protect Britain’s high streets over the last decade with over 7,000 shops closed across the country on their watch.

I welcome this five-point plan to deliver a bright future for our high streets. We need urgent action to reverse a decade of decline in our shopping centres, and I know constituents will know how vital this now is”.

Arguing that high street businesses are competing with online retailers with “one hand tied behind their backs”, Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds, MP, has demanded urgent action to level the playing field:

“We can’t continue with a situation where five US tech firms account for £1.3bn in lost corporation tax every year, while high street shops pay business rates under a system that hasn’t been reformed for years.

“The Government should set out what it plans to do about this. On so-called ‘Tax Day’, the Conservatives must level the playing field between high street businesses and giant online firms.”

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Shadow Defence Minister responds to Government’s military personnel cuts

Stephen Morgan MP has warned the Government’s decision to cut the Army numbers by 10,000 is a ‘mistake’, following the confirmation of the Army’s restructuring today.

It comes as the government published its Defence Command Paper this afternoon, alongside the Integrated Review that was disclosed last week, outlining the government’s defence and security plans for the next five years and beyond.

The Portsmouth South MP has recognised in principle the need to modernise the UK Armed Forces to equip them to respond to present and future threats, but has cast serious doubts over the government’s ability to deliver, pointing to its track record on full-time UK personnel numbers and defence spending plans announced in last year’s Spending Review.

As of January 2021, the UK full-time Armed Forces strength fell short of its 2015 SDSR targets across all services, with the full-time trained strength of the UK Armed Forces 135,444, a shortfall of 8,756 (6%) against the government’s own target of 144,200.

In last year’s Spending Review, the government also revealed that it plans to cut day-to-day spending by 2.7% in real terms over the next 4 years, despite plans to invest £16.5bn in projects, but with no clear resource to support and maintain them.

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

“This has been a decade of decline for our Armed Services and the government has confirmed today yet again further cuts to Army personnel numbers. Hi-tech equipment is essential, but highly trained personnel are indispensable.

“The pattern of the 2010 and 2015 reviews was to cut and restructure defence capabilities based on budgetary constraints, rather than meeting threats. Today it was confirmed to be more of the same.

“The PM said he was ending an “era of retreat” with his government’s vision of a ‘global Britain’ in the Integrated Review published last week, but any new cuts will only extend this era of retreat and significantly limit our Forces ability to deploy overseas, support allies and be a force for good in the world.”

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Portsmouth MP calls government out on ‘withheld funds’ for city port

Stephen Morgan MP called for the government to provide answers in the House of Commons today on why Portsmouth International Port was not afforded the funding it needs to complete post-Brexit preparations.

Portsmouth International Port applied for £32m of funding in October from the government’s Port Infrastructure Fund, to prepare for new customs arrangements that are set to come in this July, allowing it to adapt to the government’s own new Border Operating Model.

However, the city port was only handed £17.1m of what it asked for – leaving a very large of shortfall of almost £15m.

Meanwhile, the government has also so far ignored the port’s further request for funding for the new Border Control Points, and without it, they will have no facility to use to check the 30,000 breeding animals that are expected to come through each year.

Portsmouth’s local authority owned port contributes around £135m to Portsmouth’s local economy, over 1420 local jobs as well as close to £390m to the national economy each year.

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

“Our port contributes around £390m to the national economy each year, so it is frankly absurd that government continues to slow the port’s progress to adapt to its own new Border Operating Model.

“Government cannot continue to chronically underfund our local council, but meanwhile expect it to cough up the cash for this huge infrastructure project. It just is not realistic.

“The Minister for EU negotiations has the power and influence to resolve this, so I expect to hear how they plan to fix this problem very shortly, with no answers forthcoming from the Transport Minister today.”

Mr Morgan has been working closely with the city port to support its funding needs, writing to Ministers in December demanding further funding for the port to prepare for post-Brexit trade.

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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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Our NHS heroes deserve a pay rise 

It is beyond belief that this government claps for our NHS heroes one minute then hands them a real-terms pay cut the next.

The independent NHS Pay Review Body should recommend a real pay rise for our city’s healthcare heroes and the government must honour it.

I want to add my name to this petition on a Real Pay Rise for our Healthcare Heroes*

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