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Portsmouth MP backs children’s road safety campaign

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, has backed the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers’ (APIL) ‘Injury Prevention Week’ campaign, encouraging parents to discuss the importance of road safety with their children.

APIL, the not-for-profit campaign group, has underlined the importance of road safety for children as they prepare to head back to school next month.

According to a YouGov survey, two-thirds of parents do not think their children have a good understanding of the dangers on our roads, while one in eight are very concerned about their children’s safety when navigating our roads.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

“As many young students and families in Portsmouth prepare to head back to school next month, it’s vital we ensure children are fully aware of the dangers of the roads and have a good understanding of the highway code.

“Neither parent nor child should be concerned about a young student’s journey to school, and any initiative to help make it that much safer I fully endorse. It is why I am proud to support APIL’s campaign on this important issue.”

Children aged fifteen and under account for around a quarter of pedestrian injuries and deaths in the UK (according to APIL), whilst similar pedestrian traffic collisions for the same age group amount to a fifth in Portsmouth South.

The Portsmouth South representative added:

“In the past few years, there have been too many avoidable pedestrian traffic collisions in our city involving young people, and I am committed to doing all I can to ensure this does not continue to happen.

It’s been a particularly difficult period for both students and parents over the last few months, and I’m keen that the last thing children and parents alike are worrying about is a young student’s ability to travel to and from school safely.”

 

 

 

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Stephen Morgan ‘humbled’ to be nominated for national MP of the Year

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has been nominated for the prestigious MP of the Year award, an accolade rewarding parliamentarians for exceptional grassroots community work. The nomination is now open to a public vote.

The awards, organised by the Patchwork Foundation, a UK-based charity committed to strengthening democracy, are divided into two categories – the People’s Choice Award voted on by the public and the Judge’s Award, where each nomination is blind-judged by an independent panel.

MPs from the major political parties are nominated for actively working with underrepresented and disadvantaged communities across the UK. The awards provide a motivation for MPs to work with diverse communities and highlights best practice.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I did not enter public service for recognition or awards, but I did enter it to try and make positive changes in our community. It is therefore humbling to learn of the nomination in light of some of the work I have undertaken across our city.

With a pandemic worsening the inequality and injustice found across Portsmouth, it is important now more than ever that disadvantaged communities have a voice.

Regardless of awards, I will continue to work with and support the grass roots organisations who are on the frontline fighting inequality, as they are the ones who truly deserve commendation.”

Any resident can show support by now voting for Stephen in the public vote here by no later than midnight on 30 August 2020.

The awards are presented at Speakers House in the Palace of Westminster. MPs from across the country, constituency members, masterclass graduates and community leaders come together to celebrate the nominees and award winners.

 

 

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City MP reacts to biggest employment drop since 2009: ‘Government must do more for young and self-employed people’

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to provide better, targeted support for young and self-employed people in Portsmouth, in reaction to the latest UK employment figures showing its biggest fall in over a decade. The fall in employment was largely driven by young and self-employed people.

Official figures released this morning also showed the UK has now entered a technical recession, with the UK economy (April to June 2020) reaching a record fall of 20.4% – worse than any other country in Europe.

On today’s news Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“The government’s one size fits all approach is continuing to lead to job losses that simply should not be happening. The figures today outlining the biggest economic fall for any country in Europe confirms this.

“We are already experiencing the worst excess death rate in Europe. We’re now on track for the worst recession too. The government has got to do better, and I will be calling on the government for what its plans are to support the people of Portsmouth through this economic crisis.

“It must now realise the scale of this crisis and switch to a more flexible and focused approach to provide support to the people and sectors that need it most.”

The number of young people (aged 20-29) in the southern part of the City of Portsmouth is over 13% higher than the UK average, raising concerns about the local impact the coronavirus has had on younger people being able to keep their jobs.

The city MP added:

Over a quarter of the people in the south of our great city are aged 20-29, which gives me serious concerns that the government’s current approach to this job crisis is going to impact younger people in Portsmouth deeply unfairly, if it continues its single-minded approach.”

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in southern Portsmouth is also above the UK average, and the latest UK-wide figures have shown a 116.8% rise since March of this year.

“We also have an above UK average claimant count in the south of the city, which is why I am calling on the Government to adapt is financial support measures and ensure the coronavirus does not impact our fantastic city in any way that is unneeded.”

Stephen Morgan MP is continuing to lobby the Government on behalf of local residents who have fallen through the gaps of support, including calling on the Chancellor to take further action to support the self-employed and small businesses in the city.

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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.

 

 

 

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‘NHS and care staff deserve a pay rise’ says Portsmouth MP

Last month we celebrated the anniversary of our National Health Service and the incredible staff who make our NHS what it is: our nation’s proudest achievement, and our greatest asset.

While 72 years has passed since its creation, the intrinsic value of our NHS has not diminished.

Selflessly caring for the nation in its time of need, putting others before themselves and working around the clock amid an unprecedented crisis, this has been the everyday reality for NHS staff throughout the Covid emergency.

And as the sound of clapping from the doorstep falls silent, the need for government to properly recognise the efforts of our NHS grows.

It is high time that these cherished healthcare workers received pay to match their value to society.

The government’s refusal to bring forward the pay rise is a slap in the face to the workers, who for nearly three quarters of a decade, have been the backbone of the nation.

But we must remember, it was just 3 years ago that applause rang out from the Tory frontbenches when they blocked a pay rise for public sector workers.

That’s why Labour supports those calling on the Government today to make an immediate commitment to pay negotiations with NHS staff.

We cannot clap for our carers for weeks, then fail to back them up with meaningful action.

We must show our NHS staff the same commitment they have shown our country in its time of need.

For the sake of the workers who continue to keep us safe, the thousands of unfulfilled vacancies left in the NHS and for justice – healthcare workers must receive fair pay.

Stephen Morgan MP 

 

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Shadow Armed Forces Minister visits National Museum of the Royal Navy to hear about their road to recovery

Concerned by the impact of coronavirus and the subsequent economic crisis faced by the nation’s armed forces museums, Stephen Morgan MP today spent time with the Director of the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) as part of ongoing support for the charity.

Stephen Morgan MP kicked off the socially distanced visit with a meeting led by the Museum’s senior management. First on the agenda was the fact the NMRN and Mary Rose Museum would be opening together later this month with a consolidated ticketing system, while the future of the Royal Marines Museum and public safety ahead of reopening was also discussed.

Mr Morgan then went onto a behind the scenes tour of HMS Victory. This included a tour of the public viewing platforms which are currently mid construction and the changes being made to the dry dock facility, making Mr Morgan the first representative in the city to see the work underway.

On the new viewing platform, Mr Morgan said:

“The new viewing platform will allow visitors the opportunity to see the craftsmanship that has gone into HMS Victory from an entirely new perspective.

This, coupled with the implementation of new hydraulic capabilities aimed at further preserving the ship, proves that the Historic Dockyard is at the cutting edge of delivering a high quality visitor experience.”

The city MP also took the opportunity to hear about the new consolidated ticketing function with the Mary Rose Museum, challenges faced by local museums ahead of reopening, and observed the changes being made to the dry dock being used to preserve HMS Victory.  

Commenting on the venture with the Mary Rose Museum, Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The National Museum of the Royal Navy, home to the world’s most famous warship, is a cultural institution that educates, inspires and informs people from across the globe about our nation’s naval history. While the Mary Rose acts as a porthole into the past, its preservation and excavation is considered world-leading.

I welcome the innovation and cooperative spirit demonstrated by both the NMRN and the Mary Rose, and following discussions today, remain hopeful that this joint venture will lead to both institutions successfully weathering the storm of Covid-19 – an outcome very important to our community.”

The visit comes in the wake of news that government would offer support to the museum, following lobbying by the Portsmouth South MP and others. Concerns over the future of the major cultural asset arose in recent months due to the severe loss of footfall; causing Mr Morgan to lobby Ministers in Parliament and to write directly to the Defence Secretary urging financial assistance.

The NMRN was facing disproportionate strain in comparison to other national museums as 81% of its funding relies on donors and visitor revenue, meaning that unless government stepped in the museum could face closure.

On financial challenges faced by NMRN, Mr Morgan added:

“I welcome news that government is finally willing to give this of significant national asset the support it deserves. However, I will continue to engage with the museum and Ministers to ensure its future remains secure.

Seeing the safety measures put in place today, alongside the adaptations made to normal service due to Covid, there is no doubt in my mind that every measure has been taken to preserve visitor experience and public safety.

Portsmouth is steeped in military history. It is vital that we preserve and protect this heritage so that future generations can understand just how significant our city is. I urge people to do their bit to support the NMRN by booking in a visit, in line with government guidelines.”

 

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Portsmouth’s own “Crown Jewels” must be supported by Government says city MP after call with local theatres and music venues

Breaking headlines have revealed struggling theatres across the nation are being forced to axe thousands of jobs due to a lack of government support. As part of a string of actions to help the sector here in Portsmouth, Stephen Morgan MP has hosted a roundtable to hear concerns directly.

Bringing together representatives from the theatre, live music and venue hire sector, the Portsmouth South MP outlined the interventions he has been taking amid the pandemic before hearing concerns and agreeing a set of future actions. The roundtable follows direct lobbying by Mr Morgan to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport urging assistance for local theatres. The response received has been labelled as ‘bland’ and ‘lacking in any tangible detail’ by Mr Morgan as it generic format does nothing to address the specific local concerns outlined in the correspondence.

The Government has also been criticised by many for being focused on trying to protect theatres in the West End of London labelled the “Crown Jewels” and not doing enough to support struggling regional theatres and music venues.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of 5,000 jobs losses across UK theatres, 2,000 of which occurred after government announced its arts recovery package. With the arts and culture sector employing around 160,000 across the South East, this is of grave concern to Portsmouth’s jobs and economy.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I have heard again that despite details of the arts recovery package being announced, we are still nowhere closer to the money being distributed. This is just not good enough.

Every day that passes without the funding being released, and a lack of certainty about when theatres will be able to re-open, is a day that risks further job losses from the sector.

Since the onset of this pandemic, I have been calling on government to support our city’s arts. It is essential they immediately release the money set aside as part of the recovery package and explore alternative support such as exemption from furlough contribution and additional measures for freelancers.”

At the roundtable, a set of further actions were agreed by the city MP. Based on the concerns raised by culture sector representatives, Stephen Morgan will be urging the Culture Secretary to visit Portsmouth for a tour of the city’s venues and theatres to hear first hand about the challenges they have been facing.

Mr Morgan added:

“Following the bland response from government to my letter that lacked any tangible detail about the local concerns raised, I will be urging the Culture Secretary to visit Portsmouth’s theatres and venues to see exactly the problems arising from the one-size-fits all approach that is being adopted.

It is obvious from discussions with sector representatives today that each organisation faces a unique set of challenges. I will continue to push Ministers to acknowledge this and offer more comprehensive support to our city’s theatres and music venues – our own Crown Jewels”.

Stephen Morgan has been acting on behalf of the culture sector throughout the pandemic. Writing to the Culture Secretary to urge a recovery package, submitting written questions about cash flow to venues, and throwing his weight behind Portsmouth Creates open consultation are just some of ways he has offered support.

 

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“Just 24 hours to save jobs” says city MP in response to new regional furlough data

“Fresh stats reveal marked deterioration in South East jobs market and economy, even compared to data released three weeks ago” says city Stephen Morgan backing Labour’s 5-point plan.

24 hours to save jobs – new analysis shows high street still under strain in South East, including Portsmouth as 1,216, 600 furloughed workers start losing support in a matter of hours.

Three weeks ago, Stephen Morgan MP released a statement outlining his response to damning stats showing how many people have fallen through the gaps in government support across the region. New data today shows that even in the short time since then, things have become markedly worse.

Analysis released today by the Labour Party shows:

  • Footfall for key high street businesses is still down 40% on pre-pandemic levels in the UK
  • 7% of businesses in the hardest hit sector still report being temporarily closed
  • 1,216,600 furloughed workers in the South East begin losing support in a matter of hours – making it a 7.1% increase in just a few weeks

New analysis by the Labour Party shows many businesses in the South East still face significant challenges due to coronavirus.

Google mobility data shows that footfall for retail and recreation businesses, including restaurants, cafes, museums and cinemas, is down 45% in Portsmouth compared to pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, footfall on public transport and around workplaces is still down 18%.

Meanwhile, the latest ONS data shows some firms have still not reopened, whilst a large number of those that have report lower turnover.

A fifth of businesses in the food and accommodation sector have still not been able to reopen, including nearly 30% of SMEs. 43% of businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector are also still temporarily closed, including nearly half of SMEs.

Meanwhile, of those that have opened, 84% in food and accommodation and 72% in arts and entertainment report reduced turnover from pre-pandemic levels.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Hardworking Portsmouth people, through no fault of their own, have fallen through the substantial gaps in government support. From the self-employed to new businesses, people from a variety of occupations are facing financial turmoil.

The marked deterioration of the state of employment in our region, even just over the last two weeks, is a testament to the fact more must be done.

The government was too slow into lockdown, too slow on testing, now its too slow to protect jobs. That is why I support Labour’s 5-point plan that will fight for jobs, back our businesses, leave no-one behind, keep workers safe and drive up job creation”

In under 24 hours, these firms begin losing support from the Job Retention Scheme and will have to start meeting some of the cost of non-working hours for any retained employees (either fully or partially furloughed).

This change risks handing furloughed workers In the South East their P45;

  • 1, 216, 600, people have been furloughed an increase from 1,035,400 – equivalent to 29% of the workforce
  • 203, 400 workers in the food and accommodation, equivalent to 72% of the workforce
  • 73, 500 workers in arts, entertainment and recreation, equivalent to 69% of the workforce

While the arts and food sectors have seen an increase in output over the last few weeks, this is solely down to an easing of lockdown restrictions. Many still reserve concerns that businesses will not survive unless more comprehensive support is offered by government.

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds MP said:

“The Chancellor’s refusal to abandon his one-size-fits-all withdrawal of furlough is an historic mistake that risks a python-like squeeze on jobs in the worst-hit sectors. The reward for months of hard work and sacrifice by the British people cannot be a P45.

It’s not too late for the Chancellor to see sense, change course and support the businesses and sectors that need it most. But even if he does, there is still much to do.

That’s why Labour is today launching the Jobs Jobs Jobs campaign – to offer concrete, constructive proposals that would protect the economy and people’s livelihoods.”

Labour is calling on the government to reverse course and extend the furlough scheme so that it supports jobs in the worst-hit sectors and targets aid to struggling industries.

This would put the UK in line with other major developed democracies, with many extending their versions of the Job Retention Scheme or similar wage subsidy schemes:

  • France announced in July that their emergency wage subsidy scheme would operate for up to two years.
  • Germany already benefited from an existing wage subsidy or ‘short-time’ work scheme, introduced after the financial crisis to prevent unemployment during downturns. The scheme was expanded in March, with these changes lasting until the end of the year. Workers can receive a subsidy for up to a year, meaning the government will be subsidising wages well into 2021.
  • Australia recently announced that its Job Keeper wage subsidy scheme would be extended until March 2021 for the worst affected firms. The scheme was due to end in September and is still open to new claims.
  • Ireland announced last week that its temporary wage subsidy scheme would remain in place until March 2021.

 

 

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“Working together is crucial to overcoming inequality in our communities” says Stephen Morgan MP

In a week where Portsmouth’s Labour Group put forward both a motion and an amendment at the city council’s meeting aimed at combating structural racism, Stephen Morgan MP talks about why differences need to be set aside to overcome inequality.

The harrowing footage of the murder of George Floyd has quite rightly shaken the world. While the Black Lives Matter movement is on the frontier of the battle for civil rights, and their peaceful resilience is an inspiration, there are things that we can do here in Portsmouth to stamp out all forms of racism and injustice. To do that, we need to make sure that we are all working together, looking inwards at how we can improve, and making tangible change in our communities at a local level.

Tragically George Floyd’s death was not a one-off event. It is endemic of a deep-set racism in our society. A racism that does not respect borders, has the ability to cross oceans and is just as dangerous across the Atlantic as it is here within our own city. And it is therefore clear that we have a responsibility to drum out this rot where we find it in our own community.

Nationally, there is a lot more that government must do. With the Race Disparity Audit, Lammy Review and the McGregor-Smith Review we have seen inquiry after inquiry telling us the same thing – that racism has infiltrated every echelon of our society. We have seen enough words, what we now need to see is action to tackle the inequalities in employment, health and education laid bare by the pandemic. That is why I am proud Portsmouth as a city, once again, proved that it is willing to tackle the tough challenges head on this week.

At full council I am proud that the Labour Group played a part in making positive changes in our community. Consulting with grassroots minority groups about the disproportionate effect of coronavirus, commitment to developing an anti-racism strategy, strengthening engagement with local BAME groups and reviewing councillor training on equality responsibilities are now all tangible local changes resulting from the Labour Group’s intervention.

When we know that racism and discrimination suffered by Britain’s black, Asian and minority ethnic people has contributed to the high death rates from Covid-19 in those communities, this couldn’t be more needed.

When facing division and hatred, a united front is always the most effective tool.  That is why at full council Labour worked proactively with the administration and other parties to make sure Portsmouth’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement was as strong as it could be. This meant supporting the efforts of other parties, but constructively offering improvements where they were needed.  It is important that representatives from all parties stand united and work together to combat injustice and hatred.

So, the passing of the motion strengthened by Labour’s amendments at full council proves that our city can pull together and be at the forefront of proliferating progress. But this is only a first step. There is a great deal more to do.

Past behaviour of local representatives, local hate crime data and the everyday racism we all see proves that.  We need to be constantly reassessing our response to racism, listening to our communities and translating this into real, visible change.

While in the first council meeting since the tragic death of George Floyd, the Labour Group has proven its unwavering commitment to creating a more equal society, there is no room for complacency. The party locally will continue to work with others to push for a fairer, unprejudiced and more just society.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

 

 

 

 

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City MP responds to The Times report on Aquind and Russian interference

Following the publication of the intelligence and security committee’s report this week, concerns about the growth of Russian influence in British political and public life have increased.

Potential links between Aquind Interconnector, a large national infrastructure project running through Portsmouth, and a Russian tycoon have prompted further questions. Investigative reports carried out by The Times has revealed that large sums of money have been paid by Aquind to the Conservative party.

Responding to The Times story, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This week the ISC reminded us that the Government failed to properly investigate Russian interference in our democratic process, and then tried to hide it. Unless these threats are dealt with, aggression will rise.

Now, we learn that hefty sums of money have been paid to the Tories by a Russian linked firm delivering a major UK infrastructure project effecting my city.

Alarm bells have been ringing for some time over the Aquind proposals. With the company exempt from some corruption rules, links to the ex-Chief of Russia’s state-owned arms company and hefty donations, this smacks of impropriety.

There are questions that need to be answered by the Conservatives in the interest of transparency. I will not stand idly by while foreign interests attempt to erode our democracy and national security.”

The full Times article can be seen here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/name-russian-tycoon-behind-power-company-say-top-tories-0vqb0vw8g