The Hard in Portsea is hugely important to Portsmouth as a transport interchange. It is a site where bus, train and boat services come together and for many people it is the first thing they see when arriving in the city.
The interchange is currently part of a £7m scheme to improve the city’s infrastructure with a completion date expected in May.
Work began to make the interchange more efficient and more welcoming in Autumn 2015 as the old interchange was not suitable for modern transport requirements. Extensive work was required to the concrete deck and supporting structure as the site is on a pier.
The project cost at around £7million includes £2million from the city council and £4.8million from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
This week Cllr Stephen Morgan, ward councillor for the area, paid a follow up visit to the site to review progress made since last summer.
Receiving a tour from council officers running the capital project he said:
“The Hard Interchange project is exactly the investment Portsmouth needs. A project which has created jobs, improved the infrastructure of the city and enhanced our built environment therefore supporting the wider local economy.
It has been excellent to take a tour of the site again, meet with the project team and hear how they are working with the community to mitigate the disruption. I’m looking forward to the scheme completing and for local people to benefit from the investment”.
The visit follows Portsmouth Labour’s response to the city’s revenue and capital budget discussed at Full Council. The Labour Group called for a better deal for local people from central government and the council to invest in Portsmouth.
Speaking in the budget debate on Tuesday Cllr Morgan said:
“More must be done to get residents into work and to continue the vital regeneration across our city and to help local businesses grow and prosper.
Most must be done to build the right infrastructure and to tackle congestion so to create an economy where local people have the skills to take advantage of Portsmouth jobs.
Improving the area for everyone who lives here and building the foundations of a brighter future for everyone in Portsmouth”.
For more information about The Hard project visit: www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/development-and-planning/regeneration/regeneration-of-the-hard.aspx
Borrowed time to save social care for elderly argues national charity
Age UK has backed the need for urgent action and funding from central government following publication of a comprehensive report this week. As pressures on elderly social care increase due to more complexity care needs, the well-respected charity agrees with increasing amounts of evidence showing that health and social care services in the UK are struggling.
Earlier this week social care in Portsmouth came under the spotlight in the Labour Group’s response to the city council’s budget for 207/18 set at Full Council on Tuesday. The city faces huge challenges after cuts and lack of funding from central government to fund vital local social care services.
Portsmouth Labour proposed a fairer budget to protect social care, finding savings by reducing the cost of democracy and management overheads to invest in services for our loved ones.
The local Labour leader, Cllr Stephen Morgan said at the council debate “the government’s funding distribution continues to penalise Portsmouth, and that as far as the government is concerned, we are on our own.”
The government has said it will allow local authorities to raise council tax with the social care precept used only for adult social care.
Cllr Morgan added: “This is a drop in the ocean, a sticking plaster on a gaping wound. At the proposed 3% it brings in about £2m a year for this city, set against an overall package of budget reductions which will see spending cut this year and next year and the next year, with no end in sight”.
The government’s approach shifts the responsibility of funding social care from national government to local residents, breaking decades of convention about the responsibilities of the state.
Responding to the Age UK’s research he added:
“In light of the report it’s clear that little time is left to protect these services. Portsmouth is not on its own. Local councils are taking action to reduce the harm of Tory cuts to social care budgets. The government must now listen and must now act. But until then, we should continue to find creative ways to tackle this most pressing of issues facing our communities”.
Labour proposes fairer council budget to protect social care, schools and job security
The city’s Labour leader, Cllr Stephen Morgan (Charles Dickens ward) spoke up passionately for Portsmouth at this week’s full council meeting. Debating the council’s proposed council tax increase, revenue and capital budgets, he made it clear that Labour wants to see more done to improve the city for all who live here.
“I believe with every bone in my body that Portsmouth City Council can make things better. We can make a material difference through the services we provide, but just as importantly through the leadership we give to the rest of our society.”
The Labour Group response to the revenue and capital budgets, included the desire to safeguard and create jobs, reorganise and reform the council, and protect frontline services in social care. Other priorities for Labour in Portsmouth include investment in roads, pavements, schools and the city centre; increasing recycling rates; building homes for local people; working to prevent homelessness; and tackling anti-social behaviour.
Cllr Morgan pointed out that “the government’s funding distribution continues to penalise Portsmouth, and that as far as the government is concerned we are on our own.”
He established that the Labour budget amendment would cut the cost of democracy by streamlining the structures of the council; reduce management overheads by investing in technology, buying more smartly, and lowering the number of council managers; and invest in social care at a time when services are in crisis.
Cllr Morgan noted that these suggestions were informed by feedback received from residents, voluntary groups and trade unions. He said, “I want local people to have a much greater say on what services this council provides to them, and on how we provide them.”
Businesses and jobs were another key theme of the Labour Group speech, as he spoke about the desire to help local business grow and prosper, create more training and apprenticeship opportunities, and reduce unemployment while ensuring that work always pays fairly.
On social care, Cllr Morgan stated that Labour would support the proposed increase in council tax to cover some of the government’s cuts to the social care budget.
But he noted that the Liberal Democrats had ignored Labour’s calls to increase council tax during their time running the council. Cllr Morgan pointed out that they “chose short term political gain over sustainable investment in the city’s future. If they had made that decision, the city would now have an extra £6m per annum to spend on vital services.”
In conclusion, Cllr Morgan noted that “this council’s budget should be about real people, their day-to-day lives and their future.” He said:
“There is hope. Things can be better. And everyone in this city should know my group is doing everything it can to help people get through the difficult times, and ensure we have the foundations we need to build a fairer future. It is not easy, it is not comfortable, but it is vital if we are to achieve a fairer and more just city. We are on the side of the people of Portsmouth. This budget amendment is a step along this journey.”
Plans for Arundel Court Primary get go ahead
Portsmouth City Council has agreed plans to provide much needed investment to support capital improvements at a popular primary school in the heart of the city.
£1.2m will be allocated to Arundel Court Primary School on Northam Street, Landport to increase pupil places and improve the school’s buildings.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader and ward councillor for the area the school serves is a former chair of governors at Arundel Court.
In support of the council’s decision he said:
“A few years ago I had the privilege to be the chair of governors at the former junior school on this site.
I therefore understand both the ambitions and challenges the school has faced in securing funding for capital works.
Improving the school’s buildings will only enhance the learning environment for all pupils.
Arundel Court is a fantastic school with dedicated staff and hard working pupils in a very special part of Portsmouth. The school community deserves this investment”.
Miss Karen Stocks, headteacher of the school, thanked Cllr Morgan for his support and for lobbying of the council.
The decision comes at a time when Portsmouth Labour has been campaigning for more to be done to tackle child poverty in the city.
In Charles Dickens ward alone, 44% of 0-19 year olds live in poverty. Education is seen as a key way to help children improve their life chances.
There are 4 million children in the UK in poverty. This is shameful in the sixth richest country in the world. Yet, in 2015, the Tories scrapped Labour’s child poverty targets.
This week Labour introduced a bill to parliament to bring targets back and an action plan to end child poverty once and for all. The proposals, announced nationally by Dan Jarvis MP, have Portsmouth Labour’s full support.
Children in poor households tend to perform less well at school, impacting on future education, training and employment opportunities.
There is also a strong link between health inequalities and poverty.
To tackle poverty, what happens in childhood is critical. Poverty is the strongest determinant of poor outcomes for children when they reach adult life.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader said:
“In order to give children the best start in life their development in the first five years of life is crucial.
Children who grow up in poverty are four times as likely to become poor adults, becoming the parents of the next generation of children living in poverty”.
Poverty is the single greatest threat to the wellbeing of children and families. Any family can fall on hard times and find it difficult to make ends meet. But poverty isn’t inevitable. With the right policies every child can have the opportunity to do well in life, and we all share the rewards of having a stronger economy and a healthier, fairer society.
In the past few years, child poverty has increased. Research shows that 22.3% of all children aged 0-19 are deemed as living in poverty in our city.
This rises sharply in some parts of Portsmouth, demonstrating real pockets of deprivation. In Charles Dickens ward over 44% of all children aged 0-19 live in poverty.
As a Charles Dickens ward member, Cllr Morgan added:
“Where you are born shouldn’t determine where you end up in life. Yet too many people are being held back and left behind. That’s why tackling child poverty is so important. Every single child in our city deserves the best chance in life.
Across Portsmouth, people dedicate their lives to transform the lives of others. I hugely value these services, will always support and try to protect them.
I entered public service to help make sure every single child in every single community in our great city has the opportunity to succeed.
I fully support Labour’s national campaign to finally end child poverty. I hope you will show your support too”.
To show your support to end child poverty and to sign the online petition visit: www.nochildpoverty.org.uk
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, went out on patrol with the police team covering his ward on Saturday 21 January.
Residents and community groups have raised their concerns about local issues in the city, and Cllr Morgan has made crime and safety a key priority in 2017.
On night patrol
The night shift started with Sergeant Richard Holland, in charge of the police team covering the Charles Dickens beat. He gave a briefing on recent police initiatives and how the safer neighbourhood team engage with the community.
Then it was out and about on patrol, in one of the busiest areas to police in the whole of Hampshire. The team’s patch includes Portsea, Landport, the city council and parts of Fratton, Buckland and Somerstown. With a high student population in the ward, a range of housing estates, Commercial Road shopping area and the night time economy of Guildhall Walk, there is lots for the police to do.
Our police in action
Cllr Morgan went out in a police car and on foot with an officer, to sites across the beat area. This included home visits, trips along Guildhall Walk and Commercial Road, and stopping by to talk with local people.
The night patrol visits vulnerable people in their own homes, talks to people who are sleeping rough, and helps with incidents in Guildhall Walk.
On this particular cold night, someone was arrested for being in possession of drugs, a house party was told to keep the noise down, and an attempted bike theft was stopped. The police officer also helped to report a paint can spillage on the highway.
Cllr Morgan’s view
Cllr Morgan said:
“I was particularly keen to learn more about Operation Build, aiming to tackle issues around drug dealing in our city. This initiative is a partnership which concentrates on protecting vulnerable people, and addressing issues of drug dealers visiting the city and associated violence. I was impressed with the results being achieved from this approach and was grateful to see officers work on this initiative first hand”.
Returning to the Central Police Station on Winston Churchill Avenue at 2am, after hours outside in freezing temperatures, Cllr Morgan was impressed with the police’s work:
“The police do a tremendous job keeping our communities safe, day in, day out. But they can only do their job with the help and confidence of local people.
“With limited resources they are making a difference in our great city and supporting the most vulnerable. Tonight was a great way to recognise and thank the team for everything they do.”
Have your say
Cllr Morgan wants local people to help set policing priorities for the area by filling in an online survey. He says:
“It is important everyone has their say on local policing priorities for our area. By doing so, the police can target their resources on the concerns that matter to us”.
The Charles Dickens Safer Neighbourhood Team are currently encouraging residents to have their say. You can complete the survey by visiting: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/dickenscharles
Portsmouth council has confirmed funding for local cultural organisations for the coming year at a decision making meeting this week.
The city council will be allocating over £197,000 in 2017/18 to a range of local charities or groups including the Kings Theatre, New Theatre Royal, Aspex Visual Arts Trust and the City of Portsmouth Preserved Transport.
Money will be used for cultural bodies to run local programmes, provide activities and support running costs.
Speaking in support of the decision, Cllr Stephen Morgan, Labour’s culture, leisure and sport spokesperson said:
“Cultural organisations contribute hugely to the Portsmouth’s offer, helping to make Portsmouth a great place to live, work and visit.
By giving grants to support the core business of these organisations, the council is helping groups lever in much bigger funding from elsewhere, such as the heritage lottery or Arts Council.
These grants must be protected so Portsmouth’s rich cultural opportunities can be for the many, not the few”.
All grants are subject to an agreement with the council. A range of monitoring arrangements are put in place to ensure funding achieves agreed outcomes and secures value for money.