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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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ARAP Chaos: Portsmouth MP blasts government with just 1% of applications accepted and almost 7,000 still outstanding

  • Government figures reveal just 850 applications have been accepted since April
  • Almost 7,000 applications remain outstanding
  • Just 213 evacuated in 18 months between the Doha Agreement and Operation Pitting

Stephen Morgan MP has blasted the government after new figures have revealed that just 850 applications to the government’s ARAP scheme have been accepted since the beginning of April, with 6,800 still outstanding.

The revelations contradict Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s claim on 6 September that just 311 of those Afghans who supported UK forces were left in the country, and cast fresh doubt on the government’s chaotic withdrawal from the country.1

Data from the Ministry of Defence shows that 60,000 applications to the scheme were received between April and August 2021, with 52,350 being rejected and 6,800 still being processed, meaning just 850 (1.41%) applications were accepted during the period.2

Ministers have also been forced to admit that just 213 ARAP-eligible Afghans were evacuated in the 18 months between the Doha Agreement and the beginning of Operation Pitting on 13 August, illustrating a further lack of planning.3

Labour’s Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan said the revelations showed the government was “out of touch and on the beach” during the immediate crisis. He called on the Defence Secretary to set out a “credible” plan to help those left behind.

Mr Morgan called on Armed Forces Minister James Heappey to clarify the figures in the House of Commons today, but the minister failed to answer, suggesting he would write to respond instead.

The government has confirmed that no further evacuation flights have been conducted since the conclusion of Operation Pitting on 28 August, yet claim the scheme remains open.4

Earlier this month, the Portsmouth representative also met with members of the local Afghan community to listen to views and concerns about family and friends in Afghanistan.

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

“Despite the very best efforts from our armed forces, this government has woefully mishandled the crisis in Afghanistan.

“These figures reveal the government’ systemic failure to plan for the withdrawal in the 18 months following the Doha agreement and prioritise the safety of British nationals and brave Afghans who supported our forces.

“While Ministers claim the ARAP scheme is still open, this will be cold comfort to those still on the ground, now living in fear under Taliban rule. The Defence Secretary is yet to set out a credible plan to secure the safety of those the government has left behind.

“This crisis was a fundamental test of the government and its leadership. Once again, Conservative Ministers were found to be out of touch and on the beach.”

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New analysis finds homeowners in Hampshire face the brunt of the Government’s new social care plan in the South East

  • New analysis shows homeowners in Hampshire could face care costs of up to one third of their assets, including the value of their home.
  • In comparison, homeowners in Surrey face costs of around just 15% of their assets.
  • This means homeowners in Hampshire, with significant care needs, are more likely to have to sell their homes and will lose more of the value of it.

New analysis of assets held by homeowners in different regions of the UK show that those in Hampshire face losing a higher proportion of their assets if they have high care needs and hit the £86k care cap.

The analysis shows that homeowners in Esher & Walton (Surrey) face costs averaging at 14% of their assets if they have high care needs and hit the cap.

Meanwhile, other constituencies in the South East, like Portsmouth South, face losing 38% of their assets.

This comes despite a guarantee in the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto “that no one needing care has to sell their home to pay for it”.

It follows analysis by the Resolution Foundation, who found that “the cap, which does not benefit households with less than £100,000 in capital, will be of relatively more help in the more affluent areas…it will offer most protection to those living in high wealth parts of England. This is not just because of the obvious reason that a cap set in cash terms offers far more protection to those with higher-value assets to lose.”

Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, said:

“It’s shocking that people in Portsmouth may end up having to pay for care costs in excess of a third of their total assets, including their own home.

“Those in leafy Surrey, by comparison, would have to just fork out 14 per cent of their estate. That’s half of what my constituents would have to cough up.

“The Tories have broken yet another of their promises to the British people – their manifesto isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

It’s time to properly fix our social care system.”

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:

“Social care is in desperate need, but the Prime Minister – along with every Conservative MP – was elected on a manifesto that promised to fix the system on a plan that had been developed and would mean no one would have to sell their home.

“On both, he broke his promise.”

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Afghanistan: Portsmouth MP delivers scathing attack on government during key debate in Parliament

Stephen Morgan MP accused the government of ‘damaging the UK’s international reputation’ due to the way it has handled its exit from Afghanistan during a key debate in Parliament today.

Representing the Official Opposition in his role as Shadow Armed Forces Minister, the Portsmouth MP blasted the government’s “complacency, mismanagement and diplomatic ineptitude”.

He added that Minister’s handling of the crisis had damaged the country’s international reputation, weakened UK national security, and jeopardised two decades of hard work and humanitarian progress in the country.

The Portsmouth MP also called for a cross-party joint committee to investigate the withdrawal from Afghanistan – from the Doha Agreement to the conclusion of Operation Pitting.

Armed forces personnel and civil servants involved in Operation Pitting were praised by the Shadow Minister during his speech. The evacuation airlifted over 15,000 people in 14 days and was the largest operation of its kind since the Second World War.

But Mr Morgan said they had been “lions led by donkeys” and further criticised the government for its failure to prepare for the end of the drawdown in the 18 months following the Doha agreement.

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

“The events in Afghanistan were a fundamental test of this government and its leadership.

“The character of our country is defined by how we respond to these moments.

“Once again, Conservative ministers were found to be out of touch and on the beach.

“That’s why I’ve called for a cross-party joint committee to investigate the withdrawal from Afghanistan so we can learn the lessons of the government’s failures to ensure they never happen again.”

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City MP votes against government Bill to raise National Insurance as Labour offers alternative vision for Social Care

Stephen Morgan MP has voted against a government Bill that will raise National Insurance for local working families as Labour sets out its alternative vision for social care reforms.

The Health and Social Care Levy Bill, which is being debated in the House of Commons today before votes this evening, would raise National Insurance by 1.25% for working families and businesses across the country.

The government legislation is facing wide-ranging criticism for how the social care reforms will be funded, particularly for those on low income.

Under current proposals, a graduate on a typical entry level salary would a pay marginal tax rate of almost 50%.

In addition, The British Chamber of Commerce, Make UK, the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses have all slammed the government’s suggested solution to the social care crisis as harmful for businesses and for our economic recovery, with the FSB saying it will lead to 50,000 fewer jobs being created.

Labour has set an alternative plan, which would:

  • Give older and disabled people the chance to live the life they choose, shifting the focus of support towards prevention and early help.
  • Ensure every older and disabled person who needs care and support gets it when and where they need it, improving their lives and delivering better value for taxpayers’ money and;
  • Build a strong and skilled social care workforce, with a new deal for care workers to create a well-motivated, skilled and properly rewarded workforce, with more support for unpaid carers

The member of parliament of Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented:

“When it comes to social care, for many, it’s personal. This is about services for our loved ones. Our friends. Our neighbours.

“For me, it was the lack of social care available for my grandad that was one of the key reasons I put myself forward for public office.

“The barriers to access affordable social care for people like him was unacceptable then, and it’s unacceptable now.

“That’s why I voted against these deeply regressive proposals today and will continue to fight on behalf of local people for the better access to the vital services they need.”

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‘Stop Aquind’ campaign reaches critical moment as Portsmouth MP submits 6,200 signature petition to Parliament

Stephen Morgan MP has submitted a 6,200 signature petition to Parliament today, calling on the Business Secretary to scrap the damaging infrastructure project. 

The campaign, supported by the local ‘Stop AQUIND’ group, has been the leading local voice of opposition to the proposed interconnector project. The Portsmouth representative’s petition cites the huge damage it would cause to the local infrastructure and environment, as well as ongoing concerns surrounding the project company and its directors.

Local activists met the city MP on Tuesday morning outside the House of Commons, ahead of the petition’s submission.

The Portsmouth MP, who strongly opposed AQUIND from the earliest stages, has written a string of letters to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP on the issue, regularly attended local demonstrations against the project and held Ministers accountable through written and oral questions in the House of Commons.

Kwarteng has until October 21 to make a decision.

The original deadline was September 8, but this was postponed earlier this month after Mr Kwarteng queried why an alternative plan without commercial telecoms aspects still included rights for the associated land.

The company has until September 16 to respond.

Commenting on his latest intervention, the member of parliament for Portsmouth South, said,

“The people of Portsmouth have spoken: the Aquind Interconnector Project must be stopped.

“I’ve been clear from the outset that this project would bring untold disruption to our daily lives and natural environment, with no clear benefits. Meanwhile, the company directors’ cosy relationships with government ministers continue to raise suspicions.

“The Secretary of State needs to provide certainty to the thousands of city residents whose daily lives will be affected.

“Over 6,200 of you have spoken. It’s time the government finally listened.”

Responding to the news in a joint-statement, the co-chairs of the ‘Stop Aquind’ campaign, Viola Langley and Paula Ann-Savage, also said:

“Today was a critical moment in our campaign with Portsmouth voices being heard loud and clear In Parliament through Stephen’s petition, and we’re grateful for his support and being alongside us every step of the way.

“It cannot be right that decisions impacting residents here in Portsmouth are made hundreds of miles away behind a desk in Whitehall.

“It’s time the Business Secretary listened to our concerns, end the uncertainty and scrap Aquind.”

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Covid-19: City MP responds to Winter Plan

Responding to the Government’s Covid Winter Plan today, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The test of the government’s Plan A and Plan B will be whether they can keep infection levels down, protect care homes, keep schools running, maintain access to services and crucially avoid another winter lockdown.

“However, government has got to end the uncertainty for many consumers and businesses around vaccine passports. It was only on Sunday the Health Secretary said plans for vaccine passports have been ditched, so why is it included in the government’s plan B?

“His plan also offered little on plans for support for social care this winter. I know many people in Portsmouth will be concerned about how they will be provided with the care and support they need.

“Government has got to do better. I will be doing all I can to secure the certainty and support people in our city need.”

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Reflections on 9/11 terror attacks, 20 years on

I vividly remember how the 9/11 terrorist attacks fundamentally shook our society.

I was a student in Bristol at the time, and in the days that followed I recall the then Labour MP for Bristol West Valerie Davey explaining that the horror of what people had seen on their televisions had prompted random acts of kindness between strangers in the city.

Twenty years on, we remember the 2,977 people killed from 90 countries, including 67 UK citizens.

The attacks defined a decade of US and UK foreign and defence policy, with military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq following swiftly as part of the ‘war on terror’.

We pay tribute to the bravery and professionalism of our forces exhibited during those conflicts and we must ensure that our society fulfils its promise to care for our veterans.

In the two decades that followed, we have ensured that no terrorist attacks on allied soil from these countries.

Those who lost loved one have had their lives forever altered by loss, with empty spaces at dinner tables, occasions missed, lives not lived.

The reverberations of the attacks were felt again when the Taliban swept to power in Afghanistan once again last month, meaning the country could once again become fertile ground for terror.

In this environment, and with the US increasingly reluctant to be the world’s policeman, the UK must pursue a more integrated foreign and defence policy with our nearestneighbours. This is now the only way to protect the gains made at home and abroad in the two decades since the attacks, and ensure we never again witness the horror of that day in New York.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

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City MP blasts government’s “shameful record” and urges PM to end Child Food Poverty

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has urged the Prime Minister to take real action to end Child Food Poverty.

The letter from the Labour MP follows the government’s decision to cancel a Parliamentary vote on the £20 per week cut to Universal Credit, due to take effect in October, as well as ongoing campaigning efforts from footballer Marcus Rashford.

Mr Morgan blasts the Conservative government’s “shameful record” record on the issue, saying: “700,000 children have been pushed into poverty – on average, that’s 9 kids in a class of 30. According to the Food Foundation, 2.5 million children experienced food insecurity between February and July 2021.”

The letter demands the “bold action necessary to ensure no child goes hungry in the UK,” including implementing Labour’s call for school breakfast clubs and reversing the planned cut to Universal Credit.

In the Portsmouth representative’s constituency alone, 5,550 families will be affected by the cut, including 6,907 children.

The Government had originally planned to implement the cut in April 2021 but were forced to change course after the Official Opposition successfully won a vote in House of Commons in January.

Labour had planned to force a vote on the issue in the Commons this week (Wednesday 8 September) but this was cancelled by the government.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Child Food Poverty has no place in our society, yet under this Conservative government it is becoming increasingly prevalent.

“The Chancellor’s planned cut to Universal Credit and repeated tax rises are having a real impact on household incomes. Families are increasingly forced to make impossible choices about their fundamental needs.

“Parents will be doing all they can, but too often children are bearing the brunt of food poverty, limiting their development and life chances.

“I have written to the Prime Minister urging him to take real and long-overdue action on this issue and will continue to raise this issue in Parliament and engage with local groups taking practical action.

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City MP praises work of local charity supporting young families as Universal Credit cut looms

Stephen Morgan MP has praised the work of a local charity supporting young families as the impacts of cuts to Universal Credit loom.

Based on Crasswell Street, the Roberts Centre offers a wide range of services for young families, including support and assistance to families in addressing their situation of homelessness or dealing with the issues of relationship breakdown.

The centre receives charitable donations from many individuals, churches and other organisations, and has around 50 dedicated volunteers who work alongside employed staff. It regularly collaborates on city-wide initiatives.

However, despite the work of the Roberts Centre and various other local groups, the Portsmouth MP has warned of the impacts the UK government’s plans to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week from October will have in the city.

According to the Trussell Trust, the government’s plans would be ‘the biggest overnight cut to social security since the Second World War affecting people both in and out of work’ and would risk ‘pushing families and individuals under’.

A new survey by YouGov, on behalf of the Trussell Trust, found in the South East, that:

  • 1 in 5 people (20%) say they will ‘very likely’ need to skip meals if Universal Credit is cut – equivalent to over 134,000 people.
  • 1 in 4 people (24%) say they will ‘very likely’ be unable to afford to heat their homes this winter if Universal Credit is cut – equivalent to 161,000 people.
  • 1 in 7 people (15%) say they very likely wouldn’t have enough money to travel to work or to essential appointments on public transport if Universal Credit is cut – equivalent to 101,000 people.

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

“The Roberts Centre has done tremendous work over the years supporting local young families in very difficult situations, working with a number of local partners to offer the best and greatest amount of support they can. But local families need more support from central government.

“The government’s callous decision to cut Universal Credit in October will have severe consequences for many families in Portsmouth that are already struggling.

“It cannot be right to pull the rug from underneath families that are in the most desperate need of support right now. I will be doing all I can over the next few weeks to ensure that does not become a reality.”