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Heating costs soar as City MP calls for ‘urgent action’ to boost affordable swimming pool access

Stephen Morgan MP has called for ‘urgent action’ to be taken to boost affordable local access to swimming pools, after accusing decision-makers of ‘sitting on their hands’ as the cost of heating pools continues to rise.

Swim England last week warned that heating bill increases of up to 150% will lead to the widespread closures of UK swimming pools unless something is done.

It comes after the repurposing and closure of the Pyramids Centre and closure of Eastney swimming pool in Portsmouth alone.

The city has now only has just a few options that are available to the public, as Swim England has also forecasted a wider 40% reduction in the number of available swimming facilities in the country by the end of the decade.

It has also said this would leave 73% of local authorities short of the equivalent of at least one swimming pool.

In addition to questioning Ministers in parliament on this issue, the Portsmouth MP has met with Swim England to discuss the provision level of local swimming facilities, wider national challenges and how the cost of living crisis is impacting affordable access to swimming facilities in Portsmouth and across the country.

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

“Decisions to reduce access to affordable swimming across the country and in Portsmouth have real consequences for our city’s communities.

“Instead of sitting on its hands, Government should be doing more to encourage swimming for pupils and people of all ages, and the council should be getting on with delivering this locally.

“Warnings from Swim England should be focusing minds, not continuing to leave our community as an afterthought.

“It was useful to meet with the organisation in Westminster last week to discuss what needs be done here in Portsmouth and across the country, and how I can continue to lobby others for investment in local facilities.

“I will continue to push the council and Government to get serious about this growing problem.”

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City MP blasts ‘shocking complacency’ from Ministers and City Council as new map reveals Portsmouth’s polluted homes

Stephen Morgan has criticised ‘shocking complacency’ on air pollution after a new dirty air map revealed Portsmouth has one of the highest proportions of polluted homes in the UK.

According to the map, produced by the non-profit group the Central Office of Public Interest (Copi) and Imperial College London, reveals that more than a third of Portsmouth homes endure the highest pollution levels. This is the most outside of Slough and London.

Nationally, more than 97% of addresses exceed WHO limits for at least one of three key pollutants, while 70% of addresses breach limits for all three.

In 2020, the Liberal Democrats on Portsmouth City Council faced criticism for shirking the size of their proposed clean air zone, creating a ‘corridor of air pollution’ through the City.

Mr Morgan repeatedly backed amendments to the Environment Bill in the Commons that would have set air quality targets in line with WHO recommendations. But Conservative Ministers refused to support them.

Air pollution can cause asthma, cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. There is also emerging evidence it contributed to dementia and diabetes. In 2013 a landmark coroner’s ruling cited air pollution as a cause of death for a nine year old girl in south London.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Air pollution is an invisible killer but Lib Dems running the council and Tories in Government have shown shocking complacency as the climate crisis deepens.

“Our densely populated city is now exposed to dangerous levels of dirty air because those in power haven’t done enough, as this independent report reveals.

“It was Labour that called the climate emergency in our city back in 2019. It’s well beyond time that further action is taken to tackle dirty air in Portsmouth. I will continue to campaign vocally to clean up our air, in our city and across the country. It’s what our communities deserve”.

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Portsmouth MP condemns broken Tory promises leaving South East working pensioners £2,300 worse off

Stephen Morgan MP has attacked the Conservatives as 1,685,151 working pensioners in the South East are set to be an average of £2,300 worse off over the next two years because of three broken Tory manifesto commitments.

In their 2019 General Election manifesto, the Tories promised to ‘keep the Triple Lock’ on State Pensions, ‘not to raise the rates of National Insurance’ and to ‘introduce new measures to lower energy bills’.

Since then, the Tories have made the biggest real-terms cut to the State Pension in fifty years, hiked taxes and allowed energy bills to soar.

New analysis from the House of Commons Library shows that working pensioners – who are uniquely hit by all three of these broken Tory manifesto commitments – are set to be an average of £2,300 worse off over the next two years.

It shows working pensioners in the South East will see real-terms reductions in their incomes over the next two years from the broken Triple Lock, soaring energy costs – captured by spiralling inflation – and a Tory tax hike:

  • A working pensioner earning £16,000 faces a real-terms reduction of £1,790.
  • A working pensioner on the average salary for someone over 60 of £24,900 faces a real-terms reduction of £2,300.
  • A working pensioner earning £40,000 faces a real-terms reduction of £3,200.

Labour is reiterating its call on the Government to bring forward an Emergency Budget to urgently tackle the Tory cost of living crisis.

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

“The Tories are totally out of touch with the challenges retirees and working pensioners are seeing in Portsmouth.

“Not only have they failed to offer real help with soaring energy bills and rising prices, but they’ve also shown a blatant disregard for the commitments they made to pensioners in the last general election.

“Pensioners and retirees in our city deserve the security of a good pension and the respect of politicians, not broken promises. That’s what Labour will continue to fight for, in Portsmouth and around the country.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:

“Boris Johnson has abandoned his promise to help Britain’s retirees with the cost of living crisis.

“The Conservatives have broken the triple lock, just imposed the biggest real terms cut in the state pension for 50 years and clobbered working pensioners with more tax.

“Our retirees – who have contributed so much to our society – deserve better. Labour will stand up for pensioners and older people.”

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Russia sanctions British MPs: City MP responds

Responding to news that the Portsmouth South MP has been sanctioned by Putin’s Russia for speaking up for democracy and the rights and freedoms of the people of Ukraine, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“This is a badge of honour as far as I am concerned.

“Since Russia’s brutal and illegal invasion I have stood proudly with the people of Ukraine who are bravely defending their country.

“I’ll also continue to raise concerns in the Commons about the influence of Putin-linked oligarchs and donations to the Tories, as well as our city’s opposition to the disastrous Aquind project.

“Putin’s bully boy tactics won’t stop me from standing up for the values of freedom and democracy in Parliament. That’s what the people of Portsmouth expect me to do”.

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Portsmouth South MP thanks National Lottery players for helping to support local communities

Stephen Morgan MP has thanked National Lottery players for their role in raising much-needed funding for local charities and community groups.

The heartfelt thank you came as local groups in his constituency of Portsmouth South received £472,851of National Lottery funding since November, supporting their communities as they seek to overcome social and economic challenges caused by the pandemic and build back stronger.

The City MP welcomes the grants and wants more local good causes to apply for National Lottery funding, saying it could be a lifeline as local people and communities rebuild from the impact of the pandemic.

Groups to have benefitted so far include Pompey in the Community, The Good Mental Health CIC and Citizens Advice Portsmouth.

The funding is being distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players. National Lottery players raise over £30 million each week for good causes throughout the UK.

Information about how to apply for funding can be found at The National Lottery Community Fund’s website: www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk

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

“It’s heartening to see how the community has benefited from £472,851 of National Lottery funding in Portsmouth South. These groups are inspirational in the great work and support they provide to local people through what have been some extremely difficult times.

“This year is an opportunity for community spirit to continue to shine as the UK hosts the Commonwealth Games and commemorates Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. In 2022, communities will on build on this celebratory spirit by coming together to grow stronger relationships.”

John Mothersole, Chair of England Funding Committee at The National Lottery Community Fund, said:

“It’s fantastic to see that National Lottery Community funding is being used nationally by more than 13,000 charities and community groups, to address issues at the heart of communities, including employability, mental health, supporting young people and building connections to tackle loneliness. Our funding is continuing to have a significant impact on people’s lives across the country, helping to address priorities for both local communities and the UK as a whole and supporting them to build back stronger from COVID-19.”

In the last 12 months, The National Lottery Community Fund has given out nearly £600 million to 12,500 organisations reaching every local authority and constituency in the UK.

To find out more visit www.TNLCommunityFund.org.uk

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Portsmouth MP backs BBC Radio Solent’s ‘Make A Difference Awards’

Stephen Morgan MP is encouraging Portsmouth residents to nominate community heroes for this year’s BBC Radio Solent’s ‘Make A Difference Awards’, as part of a new award scheme being run by every local BBC radio station in England.

‘Make A Difference’ was first set up at the start of the first pandemic lockdown and is a virtual notice board for those offering help and those needing support.  To date over 8 million people have interacted across all 39 local BBC radio stations.

Categories cover the unsung heroes of every community from great neighbours, inspirational teachers, awesome volunteers or even outstanding key workers.

There are eight award categories (listed below), nominations are now open and will close on the 29 April 2022 at 11pm.

The categories are:

  • Volunteer Awarded to an individual who makes a real difference to the community by giving up their time voluntarily to help out a charity or good cause.
  • Community Group

Awarded to a group of people who have helped to genuinely change the lives of others within the community,

  • Fundraiser

Awarded to an individual or group of people who have gone the extra mile to raise funds for a charity or good cause.

  • Carer

Awarded to someone who improves the life of an individual or group of people by caring for them on a regular basis.

  • Great Neighbour

Awarded to an individual or group of people who help to make the neighbourhood or local community a better place to live or work, either on a regular basis or through a single act of kindness.

  • Key Worker

Awarded to a key worker who’s gone above and beyond their call of duty to help others.

  • Environmental Award

Awarded to an individual or group of people who help to make where we live more environmentally friendly.

  • The Together Award

Awarded to an individual or group of people who create real change by breaking down barriers and bringing together people from different walks of life for a common cause.

The winners will be announced at our Make a Difference awards hosted by BBC Radio Solent at a ceremony on September 20th at Portsmouth Guildhall.

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

“After an unprecedented two years of challenges for communities across Portsmouth and our region, it’s important we recognise those who went above and beyond for their local areas during such as difficult period.

“That’s why I’m calling on everyone in our city to get involved in BBC Radio Solent’s ‘Make a Difference Awards’.

“From unsung community heroes and volunteers, to our fantastic teachers and frontline workers, there’s a wide range of categories to choose from.

“Nominations close in a few days’ time, so make sure to get them in soon!”

Chris Burns, Head of Audio and Digital for BBC England, also said: 

“The last two years have been challenging for everyone.  Listeners have contacted us to share the stories of how people have helped each other, and we wanted to find a way of celebrating those unsung heroes and telling those amazing stories.”

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Local MP demands emergency budget as figures reveal Brits could spend £10bn extra at the fuel pump

Stephen Morgan MP has called on government to act over the spiralling cost of living crisis with an emergency budget, as figures show the impact of soaring petrol prices on families in Portsmouth.

New analysis by Labour has revealed that families in Portsmouth and across the country will fork out an extra £10bn on petrol, compared to just this time last year.

The Chancellor made a fuel duty cut the centrepiece of his plan to tackle the cost-of-living, but that cut has been swallowed up by the soaring cost over the year.

The figures come as oil and gas producers, including Shell and BP, took in billions in soaring profits, with BP hailing “more money than we know what to do with”.

And this week working people in Portsmouth were hit with a tax hike in their pay packets this week after the Chancellor chose to raise national insurance. The Chancellor has raised taxes 15 times in total, costing families £1,060 this year.

Labour today reiterated its call on the government to bring forward an emergency budget to tackle the Tory cost of living crisis. This would prioritise five measures including with a one-off windfall tax on the soaring profits of oil and gas producers to help households through the crisis with up to £600 in support.

Labour would also ramp up home insulation, scrap the unfair National Insurance hike, and provide support for struggling businesses.

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

“This is a savage extra cost for households right across our city. From Pompey pensioners, to hard working people already struggling to make ends meet.

“The Conservative government needs to set out an emergency budget to tackle its cost of living crisis – and support Labour’s call to put money back in people’s pockets.

“Labour’s plan would help households through this crisis with up to £600 cut off energy bills, funded by one-off windfall tax on the booming profits of oil and gas producers.

“We would turbocharge our transition to clean transport so never again are the British people left so exposed to unstable foreign oil.”

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City MP meets refugees with Portsmouth charity City of Sanctuary

Stephen Morgan MP has met with local refugees during a meeting with charity Portsmouth City of Sanctuary.

During his visit, the City MP also toured some of the facilities used by the charity to support refugees with their cases, as well as meeting Trustee and Founder, Shamila Dhana, to discuss ongoing issues and challenges.

Portsmouth City of Sanctuary runs a number of projects in Portsmouth for asylum seekers and refugees, including projects to promote integration, reduce social isolation for migrants in the city, build skills, empower, and promote friendship, volunteering and well-being amongst migrants.

The organisation is currently running gardening projects, bicycle projects, walks, dance sessions, and football sessions in the city.

It comes following the government’s announcement of its intention to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing, despite the Refugee Minister Richard Harrington MP saying only the week before that there was ‘no possibility’ of it happening.

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

“The work Portsmouth City of Sanctuary is doing is vital, helping to ensure the city plays its part to support those fleeing persecution.

“It was useful to meet with refugees here in Portsmouth, and speaking to them it is clear government needs to do more to support them and their families, who have been forced into such desperate circumstances.

“I was also really grateful for the opportunity to speak with Shamila and her team to learn more about the current issues and challenges they face.”

The city MP is backing the charity in encouraging local people to donate any women’s bicycles to support asylum seekers and an ask for more volunteers to help with English classes. If any constituent can help in this way they should get in touch with Mr Morgan or the City of Sanctuary team directly.

Following a number of local groups and constituents getting in touch with Mr Morgan about the government’s proposed Rwanda Asylum Processing Plan and announced changes to the Border Force,  the city MP commented:

“The proposal to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is a desperate and shameful attempt by Mr Johnson to distract from his own law breaking.

“It is an unworkable, unethical and extortionate policy that would cost the UK taxpayer billions of pounds during a cost-of-living crisis, and would make it harder not easier to get fast and fair asylum decisions.

“The Royal Navy are critical to our defence and national security, and should be left to concentrate on the growing threat from Russia, not forced to fix the failures of Conservative ministers.”

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Portsmouth MP backs Guide Dogs’ “All Things Equal” campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has pledged his support to children and young people with a vision impairment through Guide Dogs’ “All Things Equal” campaign.

At a Parliamentary event hosted by the charity Guide Dogs, the Portsmouth MP met children, young people and their families to talk about the challenges they face in the education system.

Recent research conducted for Guide Dogs found that 69% of teachers lack confidence that they have the right skills to support disabled children, including those with a vision impairment, to reach their full potential.

This is reflected in outcomes for children with sight loss, who are significantly behind their peers in terms of academic attainment.

Guide Dogs’ “All Things Equal” campaign is calling for greater recognition of vision impairment throughout the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) system. The critical role of specialist professionals needs to be prioritised, and more support should be given at an earlier stage to help prevent young people with sight loss from falling behind.

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

“It was a pleasure to join Guide Dogs charity, families and dogs to hear about its All Things Equal campaign in Parliament this week.

“80% of our learning is through sight and that’s why children with sight loss in Portsmouth and across the country need specialist support and services.

“Yet all too often children with sight loss are not being given the adjustments they need. I will continue to speak up in Parliament to secure the support children with sight loss need.”

Blanche Shackleton, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Guide Dogs said:

“Children and young people with vision impairment tell us they want to grow up enjoying the same opportunities as their classmates. But all too often, they are being let down by the education system that fails to give them the support they need.

“We know that the lack of support in childhood can have a far-reaching impact. Just one in four working age adults with a vision impairment are in employment.

“That is why we are calling on the Government to make all things equal for children and young people with vision impairment, so that they have access to the support they need.”

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Portsmouth MP opens ‘Tops Day Nursery’ in Southsea following national award

Stephen Morgan MP officially opened Tops Day Nursery in Southsea today, following a tour of the facilities on Bruce Road – an award-winning childcare provider for Portsmouth.

During the event, the Portsmouth MP met with staff and children attending the nursery, following a meeting with Cheryl Hadland, founder and Managing Director of Tops Day Nurseries and the Nursery Manager, to discuss future plans and challenges.

Tops Day Nurseries has 8 nurseries across Hampshire, including Tops Portsmouth based onsite at Queens Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth and now Tops Southsea in Bruce Road.

Employing 750 people, Tops Day Nurseries was set up in 1990 and operates 32 nurseries across the South Coast, educating and caring for children in their early years.

It comes following news this week that Tops Day Nurseries has been honoured with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development. The award was given for Tops Day Nurseries driving ‘genuine and inspiring’ change to its sector.

Cheryl Hadland provides thought leadership and challenges industry norms, such as tackling the huge range of disposable items and one-use plastics, including nappies, gloves and glitter normally used in the sector.

Officially opening the nursery with children and staff, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

I’m delighted to be able open Tops Day Nursery Southsea today, adding further support to parents in our city through providing crucial childcare services.   

“Cheryl and her team have done a fantastic job here, and it was really useful to speak to them about plans for the future, issues they face and of course congratulate them on their latest award!”

“With the cost-of-living crisis, many nurseries and childcare providers are facing real financial challenges and parents with small children feeling the pinch in their pockets. That’s why I will continue to speak up for local families and the early years sector in Parliament to ensure every child in Portsmouth is able to access a high-quality early education.”

Speaking after the official opening event, Cheryl Hadland said:

“I am delighted Stephen Morgan, MP has been to re-open and tour our Tops Day Nursery in Bruce Road, Southsea, and was also able to celebrate our Queens Award for sustainability with us.

“Collaboration is an important part of sustainability so it was lovely to have local writer Neal Leyton read his Planet full of Plastic, local music makers Boogie Mites teach us their new sustainability song, and our LGBTQ+ leader Simon King and manager at Tops QA come to celebrate with us as well.

“Sadly, funding for 3-4 year olds from the government has not kept up with costs at Tops Southsea, and this reduces our ability to pay our staff what they deserve and burdens parents with having to pay more towards their children’s education and care than any other parents in Europe. We also want a healthier environment and future for our children and grandchildren, with fewer diesel and petrol fumes, more attention to reducing waste and recycling and to reducing carbon footprints. 

“Therefore, I look forward to working with our local MP to campaign for a more sustainable future for childcare providers, parents, and children.”