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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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Portsmouth MP votes against ‘discriminatory’ Voter ID policy and calls for it to be ‘urgently abolished’

Stephen Morgan MP has voted against the government’s ‘discriminatory’ Election Bill and has called for it to be ‘urgently abolished’.

The Bill, if passed, would require voters to present photo ID to vote at polling stations in future elections.

The Official Opposition has called on the government to urgently rethink the policy, raising concerns that it would reverse decades of democratic progress and threaten to bar millions of people from exercising their democratic right to vote.

Since this policy was first announced in December 2016, the Government has received multiple warnings from charities, civil society figures and campaign groups that mandatory voter ID – if rolled out nationally – could pull up the drawbridge for millions of voters.

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

“Voter ID is a total waste of taxpayers’ money. The policy is set to cost millions of pounds at every election. 

“Voting is safe and secure in Britain. Ministers should be promoting confidence in our elections instead of spreading baseless scare stories which threaten our democracy.

“Millions of people lack photo ID in this country – in particular the elderly, low income and Black, Asian and ethnic minority voters. The Conservatives are reversing decades of democratic progress and urgently need to rethink this pointless policy.

“That’s why I voted against the Bill last night and will continue to hold the government to account on this.”

 

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Reactive statement to social care reform proposals – Stephen Morgan MP

Responding to the government’s announcement on funding for social care today, the member of parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The social care system is in crisis, but the government’s manifesto breaking proposals to fund its reforms would hit working people hardest, particularly low earners, young people and businesses still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic.

“The fairest way to pay for social care is through progressive taxation, not a rise to national insurance that is not only morally backward, but economically too.

“I have written to the Prime Minister, launched a city-wide survey and hosted a local meeting with the Shadow Minister responsible on this issue. I am also currently holding roundtable meetings with care providers and service users and I will continue to ensure the government produces the comprehensive response this crisis demands.

“Portsmouth and the wider country have for too long needed a clear and long-term plan that is serious about fixing the social care crisis quickly, not one that kicks the can down the road.”

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Portsmouth MP joins The Reading Agency to encourage people to combat loneliness and promote wellbeing through reading  

Stephen Morgan MP has met representatives from The Reading Agency to offer support for their new ‘Read, Talk, Share’ campaign.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South met the group to hear about the new initiative to combat loneliness and promote wellbeing through the proven power of reading.

The Reading Agency’s work to tackle loneliness and support mental health and wellbeing has played an important part in the nation’s Covid recovery. Its ‘Reading Well’ and ‘Reading Friends’ programmes have already demonstrated the power of reading to support and connect isolated individuals.

Enabled by a £3.5 million award by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, ‘Read, Talk, Share’ will expand the already successful ‘Reading Well’ and ‘Reading Friends’ programmes run by the charity.

The Reading Agency are working closely with Portsmouth libraries and organisations to reach communities through reading, talking, and sharing.

Stephen Morgan MP commented,

“I am delighted to support The Reading Agency’s excellent work to combat loneliness and promote wellbeing through reading.

‘The pandemic has taken an undeniable toll on our health and wellbeing. The Reading Well and Reading Friends programmes are important tools to help improve our mental health as we emerge from the immediate crisis.

“With helpful books recommended by health experts now easily accessible to readers for borrowing and e-lending from Portsmouth libraries I encourage anyone needing support to check with their local library for more information.”

Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency, said,

“Tackling loneliness and supporting mental health and wellbeing across the country has always been a priority for The Reading Agency. The ongoing Covid-19 crisis’ impact on the country’s mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing cannot be underestimated, and our Reading Well and Reading Friends programmes are perfectly placed to assist the nation in recovery.

“We are immensely grateful to DCMS for their support – this feels like a real vote of continued confidence in the role of public libraries and their important contribution to society.”

During the meeting Stephen also heard about this years’ Summer Reading Challenge.  Delivered in partnership with public libraries and funded by Arts Council England, the Challenge encourages children to read over the summer holidays, providing lots of fun as well as helping to prevent the summer reading ‘dip’.

Each year the Challenge motivates more than 700,000 children to keep reading to build their skills and confidence. This year’s theme is Wild World Heroes, created in partnership with WWF and illustrated by award-winning children’s author and illustrator Heath McKenzie.

The Portsmouth MP added,

I am pleased to once again supporting The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, which encourages reading for pleasure for children aged four to 11 over the summer holidays.

“I look forward to seeing those who take part at the Awards Ceremony at Southsea Castle on Sunday 19 September to collect their medal.”

To take part visit any Portsmouth library to sign up, get a free pack and choose some books to get started. Alternately, you can sign up online at www.summerreadingchallenge.org.uk

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Portsmouth MP tells Government to honour Afghanistan evacuation heroes

Stephen Morgan MP has called on the government to reward service personnel who took part in the evacuation of Afghanistan with medals.

More than 1,000 UK personnel took part in Operation Pitting, which airlifted 15,000 people fleeing oppression and persecution to safety as the country fell to the Taliban.

The mission was the largest of its kind since the Second World War and Labour has said that this ‘astonishing feat’ deserves formal recognition.

The Portsmouth MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan has written to the Defence Secretary to urge him to honour service personnel with medals.

Under existing criteria, troops would not receive medals as the mission did not meet the 30-days continuous service for which they are awarded.

Labour has dismissed this as an ‘arbitrary timeframe’ and said that the criteria for medallic recognition needed to shift to reflect the changing nature of conflicts that our armed forces are involved in.

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

Despite the government’s woeful mismanagement of the Afghanistan crisis, no one can deny that the bravery, compassion and integrity of our armed forces displayed during their dangerous mission deserves formal recognition.

“Ministers should swiftly move to honour the heroic efforts of our service personnel with medals. The only thing standing in the way of this is stuffy conventionalism.”

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Portsmouth MP relaunches advice centre with local charity as city steps up response to Afghan crisis 

Stephen Morgan MP has relaunched one of his regular advice centres with local charity Friends without Borders to provide a more direct route for those in his constituency seeking shelter and support.

The charity, which provides support for asylum seekers within the Portsmouth area, will host the Portsmouth representative and a member of his casework team once a month for a dedicated 90-minute surgery for local asylum seekers.

It comes as the city steps up its response to support those fleeing the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in Afghanistan. Portsmouth City Council has welcomed at least three families so far, with a further six expected over the next few weeks.

Mr Morgan’s office has been dealing with dozens and dozens of cases in recent weeks, liaising with the Home Office and relevant government departments to ensure those that are eligible get the urgent support they need.

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

“I know our city will be wanting to play its part in supporting those families that have had to leave Afghanistan, as well as those fleeing many other humanitarian crises unfolding at the moment.

“In addition to the recent influx of Afghan related cases my office has been dealing with, I’m glad to be able to once again set up my monthly face-to-face advice centre at Friends without Borders, who have done tremendous work over the years.

“It’s so important those who need it most get access to the support and benefits they need from government. I will be doing all I can to support them in the weeks and months ahead.”

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Stephen Morgan MP launches 2021’s search for community stars with Fratton Big Local

Stephen Morgan MP, in partnership with Fratton Big Local, has launched this year’s ‘Inspiring Fratton’ awards, which seeks to celebrate the achievements of people in Fratton.

The Portsmouth representative, who was born and raised in Fratton and attended local schools, co-created the awards with Fratton Big Local three years ago.

Fratton Big Local is a ‘Big Lottery’ funded 10-year project which aims to make lasting improvements to Fratton.

Run by a partnership of local residents, the scheme makes decisions about how to spend the funding, based on engagement and conversations with local key groups and those living in the area.

Awards categories are split between over 18s and under 18s, ranging from best community volunteer, to the best café or takeway on Fratton Road.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, said:

“Born and bred in Fratton I’ve always believed the area is a strong and resilient community, but the last 18 months have tested every resident, in every part of this area.

“When, three years ago, I set up the Inspiring Fratton awards with Fratton Big Local, we never thought our community would be tested in the way it has in recent months.

“That’s why the Inspiring Fratton awards are even more important this year. They allow our community to come together and celebrate achievements, highlighting the unsung heroes in Fratton who have gone above and beyond, making a positive and lasting legacy for our community.

“I urge everyone in Fratton to nominate local people, groups and small businesses to win this year’s awards. It’s time to recognise our area’s heroes.”

If you think you know someone who makes Fratton shine a bit brighter, please nominate using the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/DD67N3F

Nominations close on the 29th October 2021 and the awards will be presented on the 3rd December 2021.

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‘Portsmouth’s GCSE students deserve huge credit, but they’ve been let down’ – local MP during results day visit

Stephen Morgan MP congratulated local GCSE students during a visit to ARK Charter Academy on Thursday for ‘overcoming huge obstacles’, despite disruption to their learning, after multiple lockdowns over the past 18 months.

The Portsmouth MP was speaking to students, parents and staff at the city school, as results were collected, to learn more about the challenges they have faced over the last year and a half and what more can be done to improve education in Portsmouth.

Children across the South East have missed an estimated 101 days of in-person school – over half a normal school year – but the Conservatives’ meagre education ‘catch-up’ plan provides just £0.93 per child for every day of in-person school missed.

Meanwhile, Labour’s £15 billion Child Recovery plan would invest £982 million into the South East to ensure all schools can deliver a new range of activities and support – from sports to drama or music – to fuel post lockdown recovery, whilst starting to address entrenched learning gap which sees children on free school meals falling behind their peers.

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

“GCSE students across Portsmouth deserve enormous credit for their achievements and hard work over the last year and a half, despite the challenges they faced only made worse by this government’s actions.

“From delaying a circuit breaker that led to more hours of lost learning, to a ‘catch-up plan’ that doesn’t even touch the sides, Portsmouth’s students, parents and teachers have been left by the wayside by this government.

“I’m incredibly proud of the determination and achievements of Portsmouth’s students this year, as I have heard first-hand today, but to recover from this pandemic and challenging period, this generation needs far more support from Government.”

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Stephen Morgan launches ‘Pint with your MP’ as restrictions ease  

Stephen Morgan MP is set to host his popular ‘Pint with your MP’ sessions again, with the first post-lockdown event taking place this Sunday.

The pop-in ‘Pint with your MP’ sessions are designed as informal opportunities for constituents to say hello to their local Member of Parliament and share issues and concerns about topics of interest both locally and nationally.

The Portsmouth representative is determined to take up every opportunity to have more face-to-face conversations with constituents safely after more than a year of restrictions, whilst also helping to support local businesses, as the city recovers from the pandemic.

It comes as the national ‘Long Live Local’ campaign was recently launched, which is asking the Government for greater support to relieve some of the ‘burdens’ that pubs and breweries face.

The campaign claims the brewing and pub sector contributes over £20bn to the UK economy and supports 900,000 jobs.

However, the sector operates under a wide range of different taxes, with one in three pounds spent in the pub going to the treasury, amounting to an average of £140,000 per pub every year.

For every pint of beer sold in a pub (based on an average price and strength) £1.30 goes to the Treasury – 64p in VAT, 46p in beer duty, 12p in business rates and 8p in other taxes.

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

“I’m pleased to finally be able to set up the popular ‘Pint with your MP’ events after an incredibly difficult year.

“This is a great way for local people to share views and issues with me to take back to Westminster whilst supporting a local business.

“As Portsmouth’s voice in Parliament, it’s really important to be out and about and speaking with people to ensure that everyone’s views are heard, not just the loudest ones or those who have better access to technology.

“I hope these sessions will be a chance for others to come and speak to me in way that is more accessible to them”.

The full address of the pub the first ‘Pint with your MP’ will be held is: The Mermaid, George Street, Fratton PO2 7QY. The event will start at 4pm on Sunday 1 August.

Subject to the weather, this event will take place outdoors in the pub’s garden.

Whilst national restrictions have eased, attendees are encouraged to take reasonable precautions to feel safe to attend.

The event is open to all constituents. To confirm attendance, visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pint-with-your-mp-tickets-164726688961

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City MP responds to 3% pay rise for some NHS staff

Responding to the government’s announcement that nurses and other NHS workers will receive a 3% pay rise, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Ministers have been dragged kicking and screaming to a 3% rise, which will still be bitterly disappointing for the NHS staff who cared for our City during the pandemic.

“Millions of other public sector staff including police, teachers, junior doctors, care workers and our armed forces will still face a real-terms pay cut this year.

“This was a moment to recognise and reward the service of our key workers, yet this government continues to squander taxpayers’ money on crony contracts and vanity projects.

“Ministers must get their priorities right. This is not just about money, it is a test of who we are as a nation.”