Portsmouth Labour’s response to yesterday’s council meeting

Yesterday the Labour Group on the city council called for a “fairer city that works for everyone” at Full Council in its response to the Tory Administration’s proposals to cut council services by £4m in the next financial year.

In Labour response to the Tory budget, Cllr Stephen Morgan said:

“We must be ambitious to tackle the poverty and deprivation that means families have to use foodbanks, homelessness is ever rising, and life expectancy so variant across our city.

We must put social value at the heart of how the local authority contributes to the city’s economy. This means creating new jobs and apprenticeships, and commitments to fair pay, decent working conditions and support for local business”.

Labour’s two councillors presented an alternative budget which would save management and support overheads and reduce the cost of democracy, to help protect public services in the city. By doing this this would allow for extra funding to:

– create a new “neighbourhood fund” a pot of money set aside to take forward ideas from residents and practical projects with community groups to improve our city’s streets and neighbourhoods. This idea has come up from local people from Portsmouth Labour listening to views on the doorstep

– help protect adult social care services in the city. These services are under huge strain and need an extra financial boost would help these vital services our loved ones use and we will all rely on later in life.

Regretably the budget amendment was voted down by other political parties and the Administration’s budget was passed.

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George Fielding talks about fly tipping in Southsea

No one who who has walked around the streets of Central Southsea Ward can have failed to notice the rubbish littering the place. With so much rental property, pavements are constantly strewn with household waste as a result of flats and houses being cleared out between tenancies. The council are doing what they can to remove it, but it’s clear it’s a big problem which doesn’t make our lives any easier.

However, there is a simple way people can help to address this and that’s by reporting it to them using the myPortsmouth app for smartphones. This allows you to take photos of the offending items, report the address and/or location to the council and they will then come and remove it.

As more and more houses are being turned into HMOs, (homes in multiple occupation), the problem is only going to get worse. I want to see the area clear of this nuisance and the streets free from hazards to pedestrians. Parents with pushchairs, wheelchair users, the visually impaired and those who use mobility scooters have an even worse time negotiating these obstacles, which cannot be right. The pavements are meant for us all to travel on, to get from place to place, they are not meant to be a never ending rubbish tip.

Reporting this nuisance and making sure its removal is enforced is something I am committed to. I also believe landlords should ensure their properties are cleared responsibly and be held accountable for any inappropriate waste – contributing towards the cost of its removal. I believe that only if this is enforced can we help to keep the council’s costs down and make our ward an even better place to live.

City MP signs Holocaust Educational Trust Book of Commitment

25 January 2018

This week Stephen Morgan MP signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today.

Saturday 27 January will mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘The power of words’.

After signing the Book of Commitment, Stephen Morgan MP commented:

“Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for people from Portsmouth and across the country to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. 

As the Holocaust moves from living history, to just history, it becomes ever more important that we take the time to remember the victims and also pay tribute to the survivors. 

I would encourage my constituents to show their support for such an important day.”

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:

“The Holocaust did not start in the gas chambers but with hate filled words. Our mission is to educate young people from every background about the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance. 

We are very grateful to Stephen Morgan for signing the Book of Commitment, signalling a continued commitment to remembering the victims of the Holocaust as well as challenging antisemitism, prejudice and bigotry in all its forms.”

Information about Holocaust Memorial Day is currently on display at Stephen’s constituency office at 72 Albert Road, Southsea.

City MP on Police Cuts: ‘Enough is Enough’

 

Stephen Morgan MP calls on Government to fund cash-strapped forces as 160 jobs slashed in latest round of cuts

 

The Member of Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, has slammed the Government for repeated cuts to police forces. Hampshire Constabulary have announced that 160 jobs are to be axed as part of the latest round of cuts to the force.

Officers will be lost in the dogs, traffic, and intelligence and surveillance units as the police are forced to save £25million over the next four years. Hampshire has already seen the policing budget fall by £80million and 1,000 officers lost since 2011.

Commenting on fresh cuts, Stephen Morgan, said:

I met with the Chief Constable only last week about my concerns over the levels of crime in our great city and action being taken. Relentless cuts to policing continue to hit Portsmouth’s hard working officers and the communities they serve.

Under the Tories, officer numbers have fallen to their lowest level in 30 years, it is little wonder the police have also recorded the highest crime rises in a decade.

Yet, Hampshire Constabulary are still being asked to save a further £25 million over the next four years. This just isn’t good enough.

The Government must urgently provide our police with the resources they so desperately need to do their job safely and effectively. I’ll continue to press the Government to do just this”.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Michael Lane, also announced that his office’s budget is set to increase by £440,000, roughly the cost of 10 police officers, for ‘essential staff’, drawing criticism from Hampshire Police Federation Chairman, John Apter.

John Apter has said:

“At a time when we’re fighting for our officers to be equipped with more Taser to keep them safe, when our colleagues are going out single-crewed to violent jobs because there are not enough police, I know many officers will look at this with contempt”.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

‘In my regular conversations with local businesses affected by crime, meetings with police chiefs, and out on night patrol with community officers, I can’t say that more money for the PCC’s office has been raised as a priority.

 

At a time when we’ve seen such huge cuts to police budgets, I want to see more money spent on frontline and neighbourhood policing in Portsmouth to bring down crime in our city’s communities’.

Cosham high street what’s going on?

Have you noticed how more of our local shops are closing? Our once thriving high streets are having the life drained out of them. As business rates rise, local traders suffer. When well known shops close, shoppers leave and money goes out of the city. We are seeing this happening all across Portsmouth, from its heart in Commercial Road – as major high street brands leave – to here in Cosham.

Many people in the area rely on their local shops, particularly for all those essential everyday items. If you don’t have your own transport a trip to one of the large, out of city stores takes time, costs money and trains and buses aren’t always easily accessible for parents with pushchairs, wheelchair users or those not close to regular routes.

Local shops are a lifeline for so many of us and often provide the chance to chat and catch up with friends too. With the loss of them, some people will find themselves more isolated, without a friendly face in their day, particularly those who may be elderly or more vulnerable.

As a once familiar area starts to change with shop closures and facilities are lost, it becomes rundown. Jobs are lost too and empty buildings begin to encourage vandalism. I don’t want this for Cosham, I want it to feel safe, friendly and welcoming as the place I’ve always known it to be. I want to support our local shops and businesses so they can thrive, it’s what local government

should do. We want a vibrant high street, not a failing one.

That’s why I’ll be pledging to work with local business, the council and local groups to see what we can do to bring back business to Cosham.

Graham Heaney

Cosham Candidate

City MP calls for economic common sense on government defence contracts

Stephen Morgan asks Gavin Williamson why the Defence Refresh did not include vital changes to how Ministry of Defence (MoD) calculates value for money.

MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, today used Defence Questions in the House of Commons to ask the Secretary of State, Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP, why the latest Defence Policy Refresh failed to alter the definition of value for money to include employment and economic impacts.

There have been calls from both industry and Parliament for such changes to be implemented and the Portsmouth South MP once again urged Government to consider local jobs and economies when choosing where to award defence contracts.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

The defence industry supports thousands of jobs in Portsmouth and is of huge benefit to our local and national economy. It is astonishing that the Government still refuses to include such employment and economic impacts in its definition of value for money.

 

It’s just economic common-sense that when deciding where to build and maintain our Royal Navy’s ships, the impact on local jobs and industries is factored in.

 

Otherwise, the MoD risks engaging in a false economy that erroneously puts highly-skilled jobs in cities like Portsmouth at risk for the sake of superficially cheaper contracts abroad”.

 

The Single Source Resource Office (SSRO) is tasked with ensuring the MoD achieves value for money in its expenditure. There is concern that the SSRO, which currently has just 33 members of staff, is under resourced and has been hit by multiple senior-level resignations.

The National Audit Office has highlighted the issues with the SSRO and called for it to be strengthened, stating:

‘The Department must increase its ability to negotiate contracts and scrutinise costs to secure better value for money’.

WE NEED A BETTER DEAL FOR OUR RAIL

The new year marks the biggest increase in rail fares in five years, whilst current trains are the oldest since records began.

Fares will rise by an average of 3.4% this month with season tickets going up by 3.6% – increases that outstrip average pay rises last year by 50%, unions have said.

Commuters on average earnings would spend between 10% and 20% of their take-home pay on train travel, the RMT has found.

Further, fares have increased by 24.5% since the public sector pay freeze started in 2011, a period in which the pay of 5 million workers including NHS staff and teachers has gone up by just over 5%.

At the same time, figures from the Office of Rail and Road show that Britain’s current trains are the oldest since records began, according to Press Association analysis, with passengers typically travelling in carriages built in the mid-1990s.

The Campaign for Better Transport said it showed “just how far the railways have to go to modernise”. Trains in London and south-east England are typically 18 years old, while those on regional services are 24 years old.

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, joined campaigners across the city’s train stations this morning to listen to commuter concerns over the hike in rail fares and reliability of local services. Stephen said:

“This year’s fare rise is the highest for five years. At a time when wages aren’t increasing, and there’s real frustration from Portsmouth commuters about this.

In the past 8 years we’ve seen the cost of a season ticket from Portsmouth to Southampton has gone up £504.00, that’s a staggering 28%.

Our nation’s rail system is too fragmented and complex and run for the profit of private enterprises, not in the public’s interest.

That’s why we need a better deal for our rail. I’m actively campaigning on this important issue for so many local families and nationally pushing the Government to finally act”.