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The British people were looking for at least an apology today

Since the Dominic Cummings story broke Stephen Morgan MP has been inundated by messages and emails from Portsmouth people angry and frustrated by Mr Cummings’ actions and the Government’s handling of the crisis.

The most heartfelt has been from those who have lost loved-ones as a result of Covid-19, unable to see relatives due to the restrictions to pay their respects.

Responding to the statement in the garden of Downing Street, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The actions of the Prime Minister’s most senior political adviser are an insult to the sacrifices made by the British people.

We now know from the Downing Street garden statement that Mr Cummings broke at least three lockdown rules: returning to work when his wife was ill; driving to his parents’ home in Durham and taking a day trip to Barnard Castle.

Many families in our city faced similar dreadful dilemmas yet respected the restrictions on daily life and obeyed the lockdown.

As constituents are telling me, it’s one rule for Mr Johnson’s closet adviser and another rule for everyone else.

The British people were looking for at least an apology from Dominic Cummings for breaking the lockdown. They got none. A huge amount of damage has now been done.

I will continue to hold the Government to account to address constituents’ concerns”.

 

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“This was a test of leadership for the Prime Minister and he has failed”

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement tonight following media reports that his most senior government adviser broke the government’s own lockdown rules on several occasions, Labour have said this was a test for Mr Johnson which he has failed.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“What we heard from the Prime Minister this evening is the opposite of everything people in our city has been living in order to get through this hideous pandemic.

We can be rightly proud of the enduring determination we have seen across our communities to do the right thing for everyone, and not just live by own instincts and self-interest.

As one constituent has written to me this evening, they have tragically lost three close family members during this crisis receiving a phone call about the last bereavement as they heard the excuses from the Government on TV. I share their anger and frustration and in their words are ‘appalled by the Prime Minister’s arrogance and disregard’. 

This is not leadership from the Mr Johnson. The sacrifice Portsmouth people are making is real and for many the actions we’ve learnt this weekend really hurts”.

Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the Labour Party, added:

“This was a test of the Prime Minister and he has failed it.

 It is an insult to sacrifices made by the British people that Boris Johnson has chosen to take no action against Dominic Cummings. The public will be forgiven for thinking there is one rule for the Prime Minister’s closest adviser and another for the British people.

The Prime Minister’s actions have undermined confidence in his own public health message at this crucial time.

Millions were watching for answers and they got nothing. That’s why the Cabinet Secretary must now launch an urgent inquiry.”

 

 

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“No one in our city deserves this behaviour from those at the top of Government” says city MP

Responding to news reports this weekend that the Prime Minister’s senior adviser broke the government’s own lockdown rules on several occasions, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP says ‘no one in our city deserves this behaviour from those at the top of Government’.

Reacting to the story unfolding in the last couple of days the Portsmouth South representative said:

“The British public deserve answers on Dominic Cummings’ behaviour. The Prime Minister needs to come to the press conference this afternoon and explain what happened. There cannot be one rule for the Prime Minister’s most senior adviser and another, for the rest of us.

Everyone has made incredible sacrifices sticking to the rules. Our police and local authorities have worked tirelessly to encourage us to respect the restrictions. It has been stressful and difficult for all in our city.

I’ve heard so many heart-felt stories from Portsmouth families unable to see loved ones, grandparents who have not seen their grandchildren for months, or relatives not able to attend funerals of those who have tragically passed away during this crisis.

The coronavirus response requires the trust and confidence of the British public. I understand why Portsmouth people are so angry about this and how it is being handled. No one in our city deserves this behaviour from those at the top of Government.

The Cabinet Office must now investigate this incident thoroughly and swiftly”.

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP pleads with constituents to respect restrictions

Responding to recent concerns from constituents about anti-social behaviour and people not following social distancing guidance on Southsea Common, the Hotwalls and in parks across the constituency, ahead of the Bank Holiday Stephen Morgan MP has written an open letter to all residents urging continued ‘respect for the lockdown restrictions’.

In the personal letter, published on all social media platforms on Saturday morning, the city MP pleads with constituents by saying:

“As we approach another sunny Bank Holiday, we must redouble these efforts. If we fall at the last hurdle, we could face months more social distancing measures and run the risk of harm to our loved ones”. 

A copy of the letter can be found below:

Open letter

 

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Shadow Armed Forces Minister says troops ‘let down’ in response to armed forces attitudes survey

The annual armed forces continuous attitude survey (AFCAS) is one of the main ways to gather information on the views and experiences of our personnel. For the tenth year running, it has shown government’s failure to address declining satisfaction and morale.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP, has called out Ministers for failing to address these deeply concerning numbers and drawn attention to the outstanding role our armed forces are continuing to do amid this pandemic.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister said:

“Since this government came to power, they have failed to address a growing feeling of dissatisfaction and dwindling morale among our armed forces.

Year on year the attitude survey has revealed deep set failings which government is yet to act on. I am deeply concerned that our troops are being let down.

Our armed forces deserve so much more than dwindling satisfaction in pay, morale and general wellbeing. It is high time that troop satisfaction reflects the amount the nation relies upon them.”

Commenting on the release of the annual Armed Forces Continuous Attitudes Survey, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP said:

“Crude Conservative defence cuts have undermined the wellbeing of our armed forces.

“These figures show a decade of discontent under the Tories, with satisfaction with military life, pay and pensions all falling since 2010.

“After years of neglect, Ministers must now rebuild military morale.”

The information from this survey helps shape policies for training, support, and the terms and conditions of service. It is also a useful indicator or how armed forces personnel feel, data usually difficult to obtain.

The 2020 survey published yesterday revealed that satisfaction with service life in general has fallen from 60% in 2010 to 45% in 2020, personal morale has fallen from 52% expressing high morale in 2010 to 41% in 2020 and satisfaction with basic pay has fallen from 52% in 2010 to 39% in 2020.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Beyond revealing a decade of failure to address troops’ concerns, the survey paints a damning picture of how government treats a service the nation is relying on it its time of need.

Armed Forces personnel are delivering for nation amid Covid-19 by helping administer PPE, setting up test centres, and aiding local authorities. It is a grave injustice that this government relies on them so heavily but refuses to act on their grievances for a decade.

I will continue to work with colleagues in applying pressure to Ministers to act on the findings of this survey and address the needs of our armed forces.”

The annual Armed Forces Continuous Attitudes Survey has been openly published and is available: www.gov.uk/government/statistics/armed-forces-continuous-attitude-survey-2020

 

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“It falls on all our shoulders to help people through the front door” says Portsmouth MP encouraging men to access mental health support

During Mental Health Awareness Week, city MP Stephen Morgan joined local mental health providers and service users to discuss ways to encourage men to access mental health support.

Welcoming efforts by Solent NHS Trust to bring services and people together to raise awareness and help co-ordinate local provision, Stephen Morgan MP listened to practitioners and service users in a zoom conference call.

On the challenges men face as a result of Covid-19, the city MP said:

“I share the concerns of the Mens’ Health Forum on the impact of Covid-19 on the physical and mental wellbeing of men and the risks of a spike in addictive behaviours and suicide.

With restrictions on being able to go outside, not seeing loved ones and anxiety about family and friends getting coronavirus, 60% of adults are reporting that their mental health has got worse during lockdown and over a third describe their mental health as currently poor or very poor”.

Mahdi Ghomi, Clinical Director and Consultant Psychologist at Solent NHS Trust, said:

“We are delighted to have hosted our first ‘Men & Mental Health’ Zoom chat and grateful to our guests, including Stephen Morgan MP, for their very positive engagement.

Men are historically under-represented in mental health services and yet are sadly at a greater risk of dying from suicide attempts. The NHS is here to help men in our communities to have a voice and feel enabled to access the mental health support they deserve.”

Mental health charity MIND are calling on the Government to take a number of steps to prioritise mental wellbeing during this public health emergency.

Their demands include ensuring the continued availability of mental health services; ensuring people with mental health problems detained under the Mental Health Act can be treated in a safe environment, have their rights protected, and have access to support to help them recover; prioritising support for young people’s mental health and wellbeing as part of plans for re-opening schools; and ensuring urgent investment in the mental health workforce and estate to support mental health services to deal with additional demand from the coronavirus crisis.

These demands have been acknowledged by Stephen Morgan MP and continue to inform his ongoing work on the availability of mental health support and as a champion for investment in these services.

Recognising the work of local service providers and charities supporting men with their mental health, Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Not just in Mental Health Awareness Week I want to shine a spotlight on the important work of Solent NHS Trust, Solent Mind and charities and local groups across our communities who are working tirelessly to ensure the continued availability of mental health services.

The zoom call acted as a reminder that it falls on all our shoulders to help get people through the front door to seek mental health support.

I will continue to work with others to put support for people with mental health problems, and for our nation’s mental health, at the heart of their coronavirus response and the country’s recovery plan”.

 

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Covid-19: How Portsmouth’s services are working hard to keep us safe this weekend

Following concerns raised with Stephen Morgan MP over recent days about anti-social behaviour on Southsea Common, the Hotwalls, other public spaces including parks in Milton, Fratton, and across the whole constituency, Stephen continues to take action on behalf of constituents to ensure the police, council and other bodies are doing all they can to address issues.

As result of further conversations, lobbying and liaison with senior officers today, the following is an update on efforts by key public services and what we can expect this weekend for the Bank Holiday to manage the situation:

Hampshire Constabulary efforts

 Stephen is in regular contact with the District Commander and his senior leadership team and receives a full briefing on the police’s response to the coronavirus crisis weekly.

The police locally have dedicated Covid patrol teams, who will be resourced for Portsmouth this weekend. They also have response and patrol teams with a patrol plan to focus upon locations, where the community have guided the force to consider in relation to groups gathering and breaches of Covid-19 guidance compliance taking place.

Community Wardens will also be patrolling across the city including supporting the Hotwalls area and Southsea Common.

Working with the city council additional security will be provided in some locations and a community advisers foot team will be pro-active in engaging with the public again on social distancing.

Street Pastors will also be providing support engaging with members of the public, and the Ministry of Defence police will be on duty assisting across the constituency.

Portsmouth City Council efforts

Stephen has also been liaising with the city council over what they can do to address issues being raised.  Officers have assured me they are very aware of the gathering of groups in recent days but inform me the vast majority of users of both the seafront and parks spaces are families and the general public practicing effect social distancing which having picnics, BBQs or taking exercise.

The council are taking forward our concerns with some additional measures to ensure public open spaces are as safely accessible as possible.

They have arranged a wide range of staff to be present across the seafront and city parks and specifically this weekend there will be officers supporting and responding to any physical damage all across the seafront from beach huts to notice boards; teams managing the deployment of resources across the open spaces; grounds maintenance providing the cleansing service across the grassed areas; a Community Advisor team – walking patrols who operate from the Hotwalls to Canoe Lake offering pro-active advice on social distancing and general information and the Seafront Management responsive to issues as they arise

In addition to these, council staff at PCC have also contracted additional security to have a presence at the Hotwalls area, especially when we feel the weather and tides are likely to be attractive to visitors. They are scheduled to have a presence in this area throughout the weekend.

On top of this they have are deploying 350+ additional high visibility signs to support social distancing right across the seafront area. The signs are gradually being enhanced with further messaging to support the recent government changes to how people can use spaces, and these are being rolled out from today.

The council’s social media will also remain very active from encouraging only sensible involvement in water activities in light of there currently being no lifeguard presence across the seafront, to ensuring the public are clear on the road closures.  The road closures remain in place to support safer social distancing and to support the increased numbers of cyclists using the seafront area.  A specific Bank Holiday campaign is asking people to please follow the guidance, stay home as much as they can – and do not visit Portsmouth yet.

The council has instigated a daily checking of provision such as beach huts and sites where fitness equipment is located, again to ensure the correct messaging out to the public and also to ensure that any fencing or closure measures we have had to put in place remain secure.

We are very aware of the gathering of groups of young men on the Common in the last couple of days but up the vast majority of users of both the seafront and parks spaces are families and the general public practicing effect social distancing which having picnics, BBQs or taking exercise.

What enforcement powers do authorities have?

The police and local authorities have the powers to enforce the requirements set out in law if people do not comply with them. If you breach these regulations, the police may: instruct you to go home, leave an area or disperse; instruct you to take steps to stop your children breaking these rules if they have already done so; or; take you home, or arrest you, where they believe it necessary

The police will act with discretion and common sense in applying these measures and we expect the public to act responsibly, staying at home in order to save lives.

However, if the police believe that you have broken the law – or if you refuse to follow their instructions enforcing the law – a police officer may issue you with a fixed penalty notice for £60 (reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days). If you have already received a fixed penalty notice, the amount will increase to £120 and double on each further repeat offence, up to a maximum of £960.

Stephen understands the government are keeping this under review and will increase the penalties if necessary to ensure compliance.

Update on incidents in recent days

Four people have been arrested following a public order incident at Southsea Common. Officers were called at 6.09pm on Thursday 21 May to a report of a fight amongst a large group of people. Shortly afterwards, we received a report that a group of males were trying to gain access to a property in Nightingale Road. Officers arrived and four people were arrested.

Those arrested are:

  • A 21-year-old man from Essex, arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place
  • Two 17-year-old boys from Portsmouth, both arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent and possession of a psychoactive substance with intent to supply
  • A 16-year-old boy from Portsmouth, arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent and possession of a psychoactive substance with intent to supply

All four remain in police custody. A meat cleaver and bottles were seized. Three boys attended Queen Alexandra Hospital following this incident. No serious injuries were reported.

As a result of this incident and the associated anti-social behaviour, a dispersal order has been authorised, which will run from 4pm today (Friday 22 May) until 3:59pm on Sunday 24 May and covers the areas of Southsea Common and immediate surrounding roads and The Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth.

The order gives a police officer the power to order a person to leave the area for a 48-hour period with no return. Refusal to comply with the order is a criminal offence.

The order, which has to be authorised by a police inspector, is made under the Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (Section 34).

Government support to Portsmouth

Stephen continues to lobby Government to make sure local public services have the resources they need to respond to the pandemic. He remains concerned by how stretched local services are and the impact this has. He has written to the relevant Secretary of State to urge for the department to give the council and police extra power and resources to deal with the anti-social behaviour being undertaken in the constituency. He will continue to work with others on this important lobbying work.

Separately the Government have published new guidance on enforcement this week which Stephen is keen to ensure local service providers utilise as quickly as possible.

Updated 23 May 2020 at 08.00

 

 

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City MP hosts ‘School Call’ bringing together parents, teachers and unions over concerns on school reopenings

Last night, Stephen Morgan MP teamed up with NEU President Amanda Martin and brought together parents and teachers for an open consultation.

The constituency-wide conversation – which took place via zoom – follows Government’s controversial proposals to send some pupils back on the 1 June, a decision slammed by unions and parents alike.

The conference call included addresses from the National Education Union  President and the city MP about the national lobbying effort to make sure that when schools reopen, they are safe for both pupils and staff.

City MP Stephen Morgan set out his parliamentary actions before opening up for questions and agreeing to take forward a set of actions in support of concerned parents and schools’ staff.

Amanda Martin, the President of Europe’s largest teaching union, spoke on the NEU’s 5 tests, current gaps in evidence and the problems with comparing the UK with nations such as Denmark and the Netherlands.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Government’s current proposals for reopening schools put pupils and teaching staff at risk. The consensus among teachers, unions and parents in the consultation revealed deep set and justified concerns.

We all want pupils back at school, but everyone loses if the proper preparations are not made. Lack of accurate guidance on workplace safety, unsubstantial scientific evidence supporting the proposed return date and the non-existent national testing strategy need to be addressed before dates are set.

There is a lot at risk if this is not done properly. I have already taken action alongside teaching groups in holding government to account for this decision. I will continue to work on the set of actions agreed through our discussions yesterday.”

Prior to the meeting, Stephen Morgan MP had already written to the Education Secretary, submitted a string of written questions and established communication with every school in the constituency.

NEU President, Amanda Martin said:

“Lack of published scientific evidence, patchy workplace safety guidelines and an absence of a testing process mean that reopening schools in early June runs the risk of harm coming to teachers and pupils.

I will continue work alongside Stephen to apply pressure on government to meet the NEU’s 5 tests, which have been backed by the British Medical Association and Parentkind.”

Over 40 attendees took part in the consultation. The main concerns raised included transparency in government decision making, the need for science-based evidence, importance of ongoing communication, and the lack of planning for the looming mental health crisis.

Mr Morgan added:

“This is not about making government’s job harder. It is about highlighting the areas they must address to keep pupils and teaching staff safe.  

The agreed set of actions yesterday will build upon the work that we have already done to hold government to account.”

Actions agreed yesterday included lobbying government to meet the NEU’s 5 tests through parliamentary questions and ministerial engagement, maintaining regular communication, applying pressure to government to implement a strategy for dealing with mental health implications, and continued use of parliamentary process to access scientific data.

 

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Stephen’s School Call report

Lots of parents and school staff have been contacting Stephen over the last few days about schools reopening.

Stephen believes the Government didn’t think this through before making the announcement, and many headteachers – while trying to plan – are still uncertain what they are being asked to do. As an MP Stephen is doing what he can to help worried teachers and parents.

On Wednesday 20 May Stephen held a ‘School Call’ for parents and teachers from across the constituency to discuss views and concerns over the proposed plan by Government for children to start returning to school in the first week of June.

Stephen is calling on Ministers to work with trade unions and local government to agree safety measures, publish the scientific evidence and get much more of the test, trace and isolate system in place.

We all want to see children back in the classrooms but only when we’re confident it is sensible and safe.

The zoom call saw 40 parents and teachers join a discussion with Stephen Morgan MP, Amanda Martin, President of the National Education Union, and Cllr Suzy Horton.

A report from the discussion can be found here: School Call report

 

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Take a few minutes to help Portsmouth’s creative sector urges city MP

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has thrown weight behind Portsmouth Creates’ consultation with the creative sector to hear their concerns at this time of crisis

Portsmouth Creates, set up last year, is an independent organisation seeking to increase cultural investment in the city, by connecting, enabling and championing culture in the city.

Backing the organisation, Stephen Morgan MP is urging people to participate in a short survey and to share views on practice, business and operations amid Covid-19. This will inform Portsmouth’s response to the ‘Call for Evidence’ from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) ‘Enquiry into the impact of Covid-19.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Portsmouth is regarded as a culture hub not just within our region but nationally. Our city boasts world class festivals, outstanding food outlets, multiple theatres and internationally renowned museums.

As stark warnings are issued that the arts and culture could be most at risk during Covid-19, the work of organisations like Portsmouth Creates CIC becomes even more important.

It is vital that we get behind them in their efforts. I urge Portsmouth people to spare a few moments to help inform discussion on culture in our city.”

Amid the Covid-19 the Portsmouth South representative has been lobbying hard for PAYE freelancers and taking concerns to Government on behalf of local cultural institutions, submitting written questions and raising matters with the Culture Secretary.

You can do your bit too, stand up for Portsmouth’s creative community here: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QWBMDK2.

Please submit your response by Friday 29 May 2020 so that your views can be included.