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Portsmouth’s Package Free Larder officially opens up to public

After years of preparation, a local group of campaigners have spent the last few months labouring away to create a Package Free Larder in a beautiful space on Elm Grove, funded by over a thousand people donating to the project on Crowdfunder.

The Package Free Larder opened its doors today, Saturday 11 July 2020, as a not-for-profit, affordable ‘zero-waste’ shop, allowing customers to bring and refill their own containers with grocery staples to reduce their plastic waste, protect the environment, and work towards a cleaner Portsmouth.

The official opening took place this afternoon with city MP and project backer, Stephen Morgan MP.

A committee of 9 local volunteers behind the project collectively said:

“This shop is the definition of community love and solidarity and we couldn’t be more proud of everyone that has helped us get to this point. Built for Portsmouth, by Portsmouth.

Thank you for believing in us. Now let’s make some waves and say NO to single-use plastic, NO to rubbish on our beaches and NO to unnecessary waste”.

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South speaking at the event said:

During lockdown we all heard the birds sing louder, enjoyed seeing the sea clearer and were relieved to be breathing cleaner air. It was a reminder of how precious our environment is, and how through collective action, we can make a big difference in our communities. 

As our city and country gets on the road to recovery, we must build back greener, fairer and stronger. The Package Free Larder is a shining example of that in action – the community coming together to give something back and help protect our planet. 

My huge thanks to Delphine as founder, the dedicated team behind the initiative, all the volunteers who helped and nearly 1,000 local people who donated to make the big dream of a Package Free Larder for Portsmouth a reality. You’ve all done our city proud. With the challenges our city and country now face your efforts are more important than ever”. 

A Click and Collect system went live on the website on 8 July, 3 days prior to the official store opening where customers can now visit the shop to collect their first orders.

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Decision to axe free TV licence for over 75s ‘stripping away vital lifeline amid pandemic’ says city MP

After a two-month delay due to Covid-19, plans to scrap the universally free TV licence for the over-75s are once again underway. The decision to scrap the vital benefit for older people was first made in 2015 when the Conservative Government forced the responsibility onto the BBC.

Since then, Stephen Morgan MP has consistently been vocal in his opposition to government snatching away this popular benefit, working alongside the Portsmouth Pensioners and Age UK as well as hundreds of constituents. The move announced today has angered many especially as the Tories stood on a 2017 election manifesto pledge not to roll back benefits for older people.

The Portsmouth South MP has undertaken a series of actions lobbying for Portsmouth pensioners including seeking the views of all constituents affected; writing to two Culture Secretaries lobbying for government to revoke the decision; speaking out in favour of keeping the benefit during parliamentary debates; grilling Ministers in the House of Commons during relevant questions; submitting a string of targeted written questions to the department responsible; and writing a joint letter with the Portsmouth Pensioners Association to the Prime Minister.

On today’s announcement, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Government has not only snatched away this vital lifeline for some older people, it has then cowered away from ownership of the decision and tried to shift blame onto the BBC.

That means more than three million households will be asked to start paying the £157.50 fee. I know from speaking to hundreds of local residents that for some that will mean choosing between loneliness and hunger.

Of those set to lose out we know that 900,000 are veterans who have served this country, 500,000 suffer from Alzheimer’s and 1.3 million are eligible for pension credit but unable to claim it. This means those losing out are truly the most vulnerable in our society.

Today’s announcement is hugely disappointing for thousands of Portsmouth’s pensioners who have contributed so much to society. This is a simple benefit giving back to those who have contributed a lot”.

Free TV licences for the over-75s had been provided by the Government since 2000, but responsibility for the provision was passed to the BBC as part of a fee settlement.

The cost of continuing to provide free licences to all over-75s could have reached £1bn a year over time with an ageing population and would have accounted for one fifth of their overall budget, meaning government left the BBC no choice.

Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens MP said:

“The refusal of the government to fund this vital service after promising to do so is nothing short of betrayal.

Many over-75s have spent months at home with TV providing an invaluable source of company during the pandemic. For the government to blame the BBC who are having to contend with huge cuts is simply passing the buck.”

 

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‘We needed proper plan and real investment in Portsmouth from Government today’ and instead we’ve been let down

Today the Chancellor made a financial statement to the House of Commons, responding to the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis.

Labour has been calling for full and urgent ‘Back to Work Budget’ to protect UK jobs at a crucial phase of the coronavirus recovery warning that the country cannot afford for the government to make the same mistakes on the economy as during the coronavirus health crisis.

Arguing that the Government’s slow health response to coronavirus has worsened its economic damage, the Shadow Chancellor has warned that without swift action from the Treasury the UK risks falling even further behind other nations.

Other countries, including Germany, have already announced stimulus packages to support the post-Covid economic recovery. The measures announced by the Prime Minister last week fall well behind many other countries’ commitments.

Responding to the Chancellor’s Financial Statement, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Coronavirus is the biggest crisis of most our lifetimes. That is why my priorities have been protecting the health of Portsmouth people and protecting our city’s economy.

Although it is still too early to know the exact size of the economic shock caused by the crisis, initial signs show a sharp and deep recession. We also know the Government’s slow health response to coronavirus has worsened its economic damage, risking the UK falling even further behind other nations.

That is why I have been calling for a real budget to respond to the scale of the challenges our country faces, not a mere brief financial statement we got today from the Chancellor instead.

Whilst there are a number of measures in the statement today that I welcome – including support to the hospitality sector – we must ask what is in this for Portsmouth’s future? The sacrifices made by us all must be followed up with a targeted recovery plan that gets the economy back on its feet, brings real investment to our city and boosts local jobs and businesses. Instead we have been let down again.

We need a proper plan from Government not a one-size-fits-all approach dictated from Westminster. With all the challenges our communities now face, our city’s economy can ill afford to wait until the autumn for that”.

 

 

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‘We need a real budget focused on jobs, jobs, jobs’ says Portsmouth MP

Speaking ahead of the Chancellor’s summer update this afternoon Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Instead of a limited financial statement, what our city and our country needs today is a real Back to Work Budget – focused on preventing unemployment, supporting the unemployed and creating the jobs of the future.

Listening to constituents and local businesses who have fallen through the gaps in support, I have been calling for Government to abandon its one-size-fits-all approach and wind-down of the furlough and self-employed schemes.

Rather than waiting until the autumn to help those affected by this crisis and indebted small businesses, government should work out solutions for them now and present them today”.

Labour has called for a real budget focused on protecting and creating jobs. To deliver on jobs the Chancellor’s statement the official opposition has said the Government must meet four key tests:

  1. Projects must involve local firms, upskill the local workforce and lead to material improvement in the quality and availability of local employment.
  2. The Chancellor must rebuild economic resilience right across the entire country – and protect those institutions, like local authorities, that can help deliver that resilience.
  3. Every single project must be consistent with the drive to net-zero – so we can build the green jobs of the future
  4. Any benefits of investment now must not be cancelled out by poor decisions later. The Tories promised at the last election there would be no rises in income tax, National Insurance or VAT. We need the economy to bounce back from this crisis, so there’s money in the coffers to protect public finances.

 

 

 

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Shadow Armed Forces Minister demands Government’s plans for overseas troop safety

New Shadow Armed Forces Minister speaks up for troops and their families over Covid-19 cases from despatch box during defence questions today

Probing Ministers over any support offered to overseas troops and the figures relating to personnel infection rates, Stephen Morgan MP today demanded contingency planning from Ministers setting out how they would support personnel and their families stationed in areas likely to see outbreaks of Covid-19.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister said:

Our troops have rightly continued their duties overseas for the duration of this pandemic, keeping our citizens safe and helping to maintain international peace.

With personnel operating in countries such as Iraq, where there has been a spike in Covid-19 deaths and where there is a lack of infrastructure capable of effectively managing the pandemic, we need to see firm contingency plans that prioritise troop safety.

That is why today I put pressure on Ministers to outline their plans to protect troops along with their families while they serve our nation abroad. They are continuing to deliver for the nation. It is important government delivers for them.”

The city MP’s action over overseas troop Covid-19 data comes on the same day that government has abandoned its commitment to a daily figure for the number of people in the UK who have been tested for the virus.

Today’s action holding Minister to account over troop welfare is part of a wider piece of work being conducted by the Shadow Armed Forces Minister, and the Shadow Defence team.

Already Labour’s Defence teams’ efforts helped lead to the testing of all 800 crew on board HMS Queen Elizabeth following 2 confirmed Covid cases, lobbying efforts have been carried out to allow families of service people more comprehensive support networks, and work is being conducted to shine a light on dwindling morale and satisfaction.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Whether considering the efforts of our forces community at home helping combat Covid-19 or personnel continuing to protect national security overseas, the fact remains that our troops are of great value to our society.

With the Tories downgrading defence over the last 10 years with shrinking numbers, reduced capability and offering unfair pay, it is vital that opposition ask the tough questions that have our troops interests in mind.

The Shadow Defence team will continue to take action on the concerns of our forces community and work as the checks and balances to government decision making that for too long has neglected our troops interests.”

 

 

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Have your say on anti-social behaviour in our city’s open spaces

In recent weeks we have seen a number of incidents at Southsea Common, seafront, Hotwalls and at other open spaces across the constituency. This is a chance to have your say on how anti-social behaviour and recent crimes are affecting our community and being dealt with by the council and police.

By filling out this short survey, you will help Stephen continue to take action and make sure authorities take our concerns seriously.

Quick survey

How would you rate the best way of dealing with anti-social behaviour? (1 being a poor way and 5 being an excellent way)

Selected Value: 1
Selected Value: 1
Selected Value: 1
Selected Value: 1
Selected Value: 1

Thank you for filling in this survey!

 

 

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Ahead of pubs and restaurants reopening Portsmouth MP offers practical support to sector

Bringing together local businesses today, Stephen Morgan MP teamed up with Google with an online event to help our city’s pubs, restaurants and hospitality sector plan for reopening after challenging few months

Opening the meeting, Mr Morgan explained what he’s been doing to safeguard the sector before listening to issues and concerns.

The meeting closed with an Digital Marketing Course run by Google’s experts to help Portsmouth’s small businesses with their reopening.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The hospitality sector, particularly our pubs and restaurants, are an essential cog in the success of our city. Listening to concerns from those directly at the coalface is essential if we are to effectively plan our city’s recovery from this pandemic and economic crisis.

Findings from today’s event confirm that uncertainty remains around government’s guidance on PPE and protective measures.

I will continue to raise these concerns in parliament and push for clearer guidance and more comprehensive support for our hospitality sector here in Portsmouth.”

Once the roundtable concluded, Google Digital Garage staff led a bespoke training session on Digital Marketing designed to help Portsmouth’s hospitality sector keep up to date on the best business strategies amid Covid-19.

Google’s Open for Business programme is a new initiative which was launched last week to help one million small businesses by 2021. It has been designed with a specific focus on helping businesses who rely on in-person interaction – such as pubs, restaurants, shops and hairdressers.

Open for Business will provide support in a number of ways:

  • Through Google’s partnership with Digital Boost, they will connect small businesses and charities with Google Digital Garage coaches and Google employees, who are offering 10,000 hours of free 1:1 support and mentoring.
  • Support small businesses to update their online profiles to help them be found by customers. A recent IPSOS study showed 90% of customers are more likely to interact with a business if they have a phone number listed online, or if the business has shared images.
  • Sharing £25 million in advertising credits delivered to UK businesses, government agencies and NGOs.
  • Hosting free, live, 60-minute webinars to help local businesses adapt to the ‘new normal’. The content of these webinars varies from ‘Get Started with Live streaming’ to ‘Understanding Analytics’

Stephen’s constituents can access this package of support here.

The Portsmouth South MP added:

“Keeping informed on digital business skills will be an effective tool in combatting the reduced face-to-face interaction between companies and customers amid Covid-19.

While I welcome Google’s leadership in providing this free service to our city’s businesses, I am aware that there are many local organisations who are also there to help.

I encourage all of our city’s small businesses to take advantage of the support and guidance available to them at this challenging time.”

Stephen Morgan MP continues to raise the concerns of the hospitality sector amid Covid-19 in Parliament. He has submitted questions around PPE, put pressure on Ministers over social distancing guidelines and continues to hold listening exercises with local businesses.

 

 

 

 

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City MP renews pledge to prioritise climate change at online The Time Is Now event

At an event organised by the Climate Coalition, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan reaffirmed his commitment for the three principles of The Climate Coalition Declaration.

The national event, called The Time Is Now, saw thousands participate across the country by engaging with local MPs via localised virtual meetings. Constituents had the opportunity to both hear from Stephen in terms of his climate change actions and pose questions about future strategies.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“As Britain gets on the road to recovery from this pandemic, we should aim to build back better, which means acting now to lay the foundation blocks for long term, sustainable growth and creating large numbers of good green jobs.

As Friends of the Earth has said, Labour is the most ambitious party in parliament backing strong climate change action. I am delighted to sign up to The Climate Coalition’s Declaration which chimes precisely with the aims and objectives of the Labour party.

The key commitments that Stephen Morgan MP signed up to include:

  • Unleash a clean energy revolution that boosts jobs across the UK, making our transport, power and housing fit for the future
  • Protect, restore and expand our green and wild spaces; allowing nature to thrive, taking carbon from the air and boosting the nation’s health
  • Leave no one behind by increasing support to those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change at home and abroad

This event comes the same day that Labour’s consultation on a Green Recovery closes. The Green Recovery report is being written as we speak and will be published shortly.

Mr Morgan added:

“I am pleased that so many constituents want to reach out and talk to their MP about climate change which is one of the greatest challenges we face.

Individuals from Portsmouth have shown outstanding leadership in tackling climate change, from the Pompey Street Space Campaign to recent uptake rates in active travel.

What we now need to see is government match this ambition. The UK must lead the world by ensuring our recovery gets us on track to net-zero emissions and limits the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees C. Our best chance of building a resilient economy goes hand in hand with tackling climate change.”

The Portsmouth South MP has long held tackling climate change as a key priority. This month alone he has grilled Ministers to encourage green international trade, submitted written questions, taken action to support Pompey Street Space in achieving increases in active travel uptake and written to the Transport Secretary to push for greener travel.

 

 

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City MP and Google team up to support Portsmouth’s pubs and hospitality businesses

Ahead of some pubs and businesses reopening this Saturday, 4 July, Stephen Morgan MP is hosting an online event to help Portsmouth’s pubs and local traders on the road to recovery. 

The hospitality sector employs more than 3.2 million people nationally, adding up to 10% of UK employment, this amounts to 322,000 people employed in the sector in the South East making it an integral contributor to the local economy.

Local pubs and sector representatives have informed Mr Morgan that a lack of clarity over social distancing guidelines as well as concerns around PPE supply and safety equipment is threatening their futures.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Portsmouth is fortunate enough to be home to a thriving pub scene that contributes greatly to the city’s culture and economy. The impacts of Covid-19 combined with unclear and problematic government guidance is putting this at risk.

The most important thing here is to listen to the people dealing with these issues. That’s why I am hosting this event with Google, seeking to give local pubs the opportunity to have their voice heard.

I urge anyone working in association with any of our city’s pubs and hospitality businesses to sign up to the call and be part of the discussion as we get our city on the road to recovery.”

The city MP’s event is part of a string of actions that he has taken to support small businesses struggling to deal with the impacts of Covid-19.

He has already liaised with representatives, lobbied Ministers in the House of Commons over guidance to businesses, encouraged residents to support local traders and continues to engage with the Federation of Small Business on remaining problems. 

Kicking off with an online event, support to businesses will continue with a free online Digital Marketing Course run by Google’s leading experts.

For businesses to register for the event, taking place on Thursday  2 July from 10:00 until 11:30 follow the registration link here: https://events.withgoogle.com/portsmouth-south-google-digital-garage/registrations/new/

 

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Keir Starmer throws weight behind ‘reinvigorated’ Labour Friends of Forces on Armed Forces Day

Marking the 14th anniversary of Labour introduced Armed Forces Day and against the backdrop of a decade of Tory failure to invest in defence, Labour’s leadership has today supported the relaunch of a renewed Labour Friends of Forces (LFF), a key priority for city MP, Stephen Morgan.

With a new offer to members, fresh mission statement and support from the Labour leader, LFF has set out how exactly it will create an effective forum for bolstering the party’s connection with the force’s community and winning back the public’s faith Labour’s stance on defence.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“While the challenges faced by our nation continue to change through the ages, one thing remains the same – the immeasurable value of our troops.

Labour stands four-square behind our Armed Forces, their families and our veterans. But we have to be in listening mode. To win back the trust of the public and that of our troops, we need to ensure we are open and engaging with the communities we are seeking to serve.

With the new programme of events, offer to members and support of the leadership, this idea of listening will be at the core of everything Labour Friends of the Forces stands for.”

This year’s Armed Forces Day comes against a backdrop of Tory defence failure. Troop pay increases have been delayed for a second year running, for the fourth consecutive year the Ombudsman has found a vastly under-performing complaints system, and satisfaction along with morale has been declining for a decade as the armed forces continuous attitudes survey has revealed.

And, the current administration is not just failing the troops themselves. A decade of crude Tory defence cuts has left the Army alone falling 8,000 personnel short of the Government’s own targets.

Labour Friends of the Forces has announced a renewed offer to its members including direct line to frontbench Shadow Defence team; a programme of events spanning every region across the UK; cut-rate membership and access to a group of other individuals interested in defence.

The mission statement of LFF is to build the party’s relationship with serving personnel, veterans and their families; nurture and identify future candidates from a military background; improve the party’s understanding of issues effecting the service community; and create a forum for training, discussion and development for the group’s membership.

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“I am proud of my country and proud of those who serve it. I want to open up Labour again to our Armed Forces, their families and veterans across our country.

Today’s event marks the start of an exciting new dialogue with forces communities with an ambitious new Labour Friends of the Forces scheme.

As we celebrate Armed Forces Day, I say thank you to our forces communities for the role they play both at home and abroad. I will make sure we listen to you and learn from you.”