Labours newly elected councillors hit the ground running at first full council meeting.

Today all three of our newly elected councillors made their maiden speeches at their first full council meeting. Cllr George Fielding, Tom Coles and Judith Smyth all spoke on a range of issues including policing and cuts to resources, local armed forces support and tabled an amendment to the administrations ‘cop out’ housing motion. Below is a snippet of their speeches you can view the whole council meeting here https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/the-council/transparency/watch-full-council-meetings-online

Cllr George Fielding has responded to the police cuts motion at Full Council today. He said:

“Shocking hypocrisy from the former council leader today rewriting history in the Council Chamber. 

The Tories when in office did nothing to lobby their own in Government for more resources for Hampshire police. 

Whilst the Lib Dems write words, Labour takes action.

Portsmouth Labour and our city MP will continue to stand up for our local police officers and work tirelesssly with others to bring down crime in our city”.

Cllr Tom Coles, a former serviceman of the Royal Navy made his maiden speech in Full Council today backing a motion to support the city’s veterans. He said:

“I would like to place on record my admiration and thanks for the brilliant work carried out across the city by local charities to support ex-service men and women. As a new councillor, I will be working alongside them and support residents in my ward who are ex-service personnel”.

In response to a armed forces champion he added:

“Since Cllr Vernon-Jackson is now both lead armed forces champion and Leader of the Council, it is imperative that he be held to account by members of this point, as he holds the budgetary responsibility and it is vital that this not be ‘brushed under the carpet’ once the budget comes round. I hope he finds the time to be more than a part-time champion, as our armed forces deserve better”.

Today Portsmouth Labour pushed the Lib Dem administration at the city council to make a stronger commitment to building “more homes for local people”.

Whilst recognising that house building targets set by Government need to be realistic, the Labour Group amended a motion before Full Council.

Labour councillors sought and secured cross party support in recognising the need for mixed communities, making sure the council sets targets which meet housing needs and noted there is already an over supply of overpriced student flats developed by private developers in the city.

Cllr Judith Smyth in making a pitch for the amended motion in her maiden speech said:

“It is vital to the many people on our housing waiting list, those stressed by insecure, over-priced and poorly maintained housing, and the generations to come who will not be able to buy their homes. 

These people have been let down by Tory Governments who have failed to build enough housing nationally, have raised rents for social housing and introduced policies to reduce the share of new housing which can be built by local authorities and registered social landlords year after year”.

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World Cup screening: City MP backs Labour’s call for national funding

Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan is backing calls for central Government funding towards public screenings of the World Cup.

Following Mr Morgan’s calls to the city council’s Leader, Dr Rosena Allin- Khan MP, Shadow Minister for Sport, has urged the Government to release funds for local councils to safely screen World Cup matches in public spaces across the nation.

Whilst offering his parties support, Mr Morgan has been putting pressure, backed by constituents, on Cllr Vernon-Jackson to do everything possible to get the council to play the England matches in a public place in Portsmouth.

In her letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Allin-Khan says:

‘If our Government were to support local authorities with the cost of putting on these events it would bring the nation together and send the message to the England team that we really are all rooting for them. It’s coming home – we must embrace it.’

The Government appears to be listening to the Shadow Ministers plea. It was announced yesterday that England’s Semi-Final match against Croatia will be screened at Hyde Park in London on Wednesday evening.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“If England reach the World Cup Final it will be a momentous occasion for the whole country and what better way for the people of our great city to show their support than to have the match screened in Portsmouth.

“It seems the only barrier to this happening is cost. That is why I am backing the Shadow Minister’s campaign to release funding. With councils already stretched financially, central funding will ease the burden.”

Continuing Stephen’s campaign for screening in Portsmouth he added:

“With the potential of the Government carrying the cost, Portsmouth has no excuse. As our local paper says, ‘when our city goes big, it does things well’.

“England aren’t within arm’s reach of the World Cup final every year – I don’t want fans in Pompey to miss this opportunity and have to wait another 50 years!”

“I urge the council leader to step up and deliver for Portsmouth.”

NHS70: Portsmouth NHS ‘Health Hero’ wins national award

Rose Bennett, nominated by Stephen Morgan MP, has gone on to triumph at House of Commons awards

Rose Bennett, a domestic assistant in the NHS who has dedicated her life and career to her role at St James’ Hospital in Milton has today won the national NHS ‘Health Heroes’ award for Lifetime Achievement.

Rose, who has worked at the hospital for 46 years was nominated by Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, for her tireless work in facilities services at the hospital which, over the past years, has had a huge positive impact on the experience of tens of thousands of patients.

She started working for the NHS in Portsmouth in 1971 and joined her mother and aunt who had already been working as domestic assistants for a number of years. Her two daughters have also worked in the NHS, both for 29 years, one as a chef and the other as a business manager. Solent NHS Trust has been a major part of her family for generations.

Rose was announced as the winner at a special awards ceremony at the Houses of Parliament on 4 July where she was presented the award by Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, alongside her two daughters.

Stephen Morgan MP said:  

 

“I’m immensely proud that Rose has won today. She is truly an unsung hero and, as the son of a hospital cleaner, I know what a difference facilities staff like Rose make to our health service. Her dedication and talent for improving the lives of fellow NHS workers and patients is outstanding.

 

Rose faced stiff competition but she has consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty to help people in our city and her victory is very much deserved.

 

Rose has quite rightly been described as a one woman recruitment and retention machine and her daughters have also spent over 25 years in the NHS, so today is very much a family affair. I’m delighted for them all and want to thank them again for their collective century of service.”

Stephen Morgan MP backs ban on fur

Portsmouth South MP supports Labour calls for a ban on the sale of fur in the UK

City MP Stephen Morgan has joined calls for a prohibition on the sale of fur in the UK, challenging the Government to reverse their opposition to such a ban.

At present there is there is no overarching legal requirement for garments and products containing animal fur to list that information on the label. EU textile labelling regulation requires an item to be labelled if it “contains non-textile parts of animal origin”, but this labelling is only if an item contains more than 80% textile by weight. An investigation by HSI found high non-compliance with this law in practice, with 87% of 163 items not carrying the label. Animal fur labelling requirements are already in place in the US and Switzerland. 85% of UK consumers expect that animal fur should be clearly marked on the label when used in the clothes and accessories they buy.

In September 2016, a YouGov poll found the British public was decisively against the fur trade, with less than 10% of people claiming it is acceptable to be able to buy and sell products containing domestic dog fur (7%), seal fur (8%), and cat fur (9%). The poll also found similar distaste for fur items from other species that can still be legally sold in Britain – only between 8 and 12% of people said that they found it acceptable to buy or sell fur from foxes (12%), mink (12%), chinchilla (9%), and raccoon dogs (8%).

In December 2017, a joint investigation by Sky and the Humane Society International (HSI) revealed that major online retailers had been selling real animal fur but labelling it as fake. The retailers including TK Maxx, Boohoo, Amazon, Groupon and Miss Bardo were all discovered to be advertising items as “faux fur” – when in fact they were made from rabbit, mink and fox. In February 2018, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee began an inquiry into the ‘transparency’ of the industry and ‘legislation around the import of fur.’

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

 

“Britain’s responsibility to animals doesn’t simply end at our borders, it extends globally, to the animals captured and killed to be traded into our country.

 

The government’s response to this issue isn’t good enough. It is clear from the hundreds of letters and emails I’ve received that the public support a ban on fur imports and that this is the right course of action to tackle the market for this cruel trade.

 

The Government followed Labour’s lead on the Ivory ban, they can do it here too.”

City MP visits Israel and Palestine

During the parliamentary break this week, MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, joined a delegation from the House of Commons and Lords to visit Israel and Palestine.

During the extensive trip covering the region, Stephen travelled to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with a Minister from the Palestinian Authority (PA), visited a hospital providing children from the PA and developing countries with lifesaving heart surgery, payed his respects at Yad Vashem, the international Holocaust memorial museum, liaised with the Israeli Labour Party in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and met with the British Ambassador to be briefed on the Embassy’s important diplomatic work in the region.

Stephen joined a Labour delegation with Shadow Secretary of State, Andrew Gwynne, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Jonathan Reynolds and other Labour MPs. The delegation was led by Joan Ryan MP, chair of LFI.

There is intense debate over the challenges and worrying conflict in the region, including constant security and existential threat. Constituents regularly write to Stephen on international matters sharing views on the conflict and what the British state can do to encourage peace negotiations.

Recent weeks have seen an escalation in violence in the region alongside growing international concern. Clashes have been condemned in Britain by the Labour Party, committed to comprehensive peace based on a two-state solution in the region: a secure Israel alongside a state of Palestine.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

The terrible events of recent weeks in Gaza serve as yet another reminder of the urgent need to work towards the two-state solution we all want to see – a secure Israel living in peace alongside a viable state of Palestine and an end to the senseless cycle of violence.

 

I am committed to working with others pressing for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution but this will require both sides avoiding actions that make it harder to achieve.

 

This must mean an end to the blockade of Gaza, an end to the occupation of Palestinian territory and an end to illegal settlement construction. It must also mean an end to terror attacks and a move away from extreme and entrenched positions“.

The City MP continues to be concerned at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the terrible suffering that many Palestinian people are experiencing. The blockade of Gaza undermines basic human rights and economic prospects, as well as the availability of essential services.

Mr Morgan added:

“I am appalled by the violence that has occurred recently. Whilst travelling in the region this week there was again deeply disturbing conflict. Listening to people who continue to live with this was hugely thought provoking and concerning and I now have useful contacts in the region in taking forward concerns.

 

All parties must commit to respecting peaceful protest, showing restraint and following international law. There is a need to establish the facts around these events and I believe there should be a transparent investigation”.

In keeping with Labour’s manifesto commitments and policy on the Israeli conflict, the delegation met with the Labour Leader of the Opposition, Israeli Labour Party and various other progressive voices as they sought to continue an international dialogue to achieve peace, and a lasting two-state solution.

The UK has a strong bilateral relationship with Israel across politics, the economy, culture and education.

 

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry following her own visit to the region has stated the support for the state of Israel as ‘basic internationalism’ and the “way we (Labour) have historically reached out and felt a spirit of solidarity with other movements across the world built on the same socialist values and beliefs on which our own party is founded”.

Speaking about his own visit, Stephen said:

 

I think it’s really important to be able to speak with experience in the House of Commons and this means finding the time to get a feel for issues on the ground. 

Labour wants a two-state solution and we must all work together towards a commitment to peace, reconciliation and co-existence.

 

We all have a shared duty to look to the future and towards the next generation of young people growing up in Israel and Palestine today. Unfortunately, at present, that generation knows nothing but division and violence.

 

It is essential that our Government fully backs all initiatives aimed at keeping the two-state solution alive and I will be pressing them in Parliament to do so. 

 

If we in the international community want to seek peace, this visit and sort of engagement with all sides is an important part of the way forward”.

Southsea restaurant receives award from City MP

img_3363Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, today presented Haldi restaurant in Southsea with a prestigious award.

The South Asian restaurant on Albert Road won ‘highly commended’ recognition in the prestigious Tiffin Cup 2018 as part of the Festival of Curry at the House of Commons.

The Tiffin Cup is awarded annually by the Tiffin Club of MPs and has been running since 2006. The aim is to not only applaud the quality of South Asian food in this country but also to raise money for charity. This year the competition was in aid of the charity ‘World Vision’.

Stephen Morgan MP said: 

“I was pleased Haldi in the heart of my constituency took part in this year’s Tiffin Cup competition and absolutely delighted they have won a highly commended award. 

 

Our city has a rich array of excellent restaurants and this prestigious recognition is very well deserved for a Portsmouth great.

 

It was a pleasure to visit the restaurant and present the team with their certificate and celebrate their fantastic achievement.

 

Haldi is a must visit on Albert Road”.

 

City MP welcomes Minister to meeting with small businesses in Portsmouth

Policing Minister Nick Hurd visits city at invitation of Stephen Morgan MP in latest development in campaign to cut crime in city

 

Stephen Morgan MP today met with Policing and Fire Minister, Rt Hon Nick Hurd, alongside local business owners and police officers in Southsea as he seeks a fairer funding deal for Portsmouth.

The meeting at Southsea Coffee on Osborn Road, a business directly affected by rising crime in the city, comes after Stephen invited the Minister down to Portsmouth to see and hear first-hand the challenges police and those they serve are facing as a result of government cuts.

Topics of discussion included the importance of diversionary activities for young people and continuing concerns about the short-staffing of local police. Local businesses demanded more transparency from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Michael Lane, as he implements unprecedented Government cuts to the force.

Portsmouth has seen crime rise by 10% at the same time Hampshire has lost 1,000 police officers. Local businesses suffered over 200 break-ins in the last year at huge cost to both themselves and the local economy.

A delegation of Portsmouth businesses affected by crime in the city last met with Minister Hurd in early March, after the Portsmouth South MP raised the issue directly with the Prime Minister at Question Time.

Thanks to the teamwork of  Stephen Morgan, local businesses, and police, business break-ins have seen a reduction in recent months.

 

Stephen has recently written to the new Home Secretary to ask for cuts to frontline policing to be reversed and for Hampshire Constabulary to be granted a fairer share of shrinking Government funding. Regrettably, he has yet to receive a reply.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

 

‘It’s really important that, as MP for our great city, I get Ministers to come down and see for themselves the impact their decisions have. I’m grateful to the Minister for taking the time to join me and local businesses and officers here in Portsmouth.

Our city’s small businesses and police officers continue to be put under immense pressure from the Tories. You can’t cut 1,000 officers at a time when crime is rising and expect local people to suffer no consequences. The Government must realise that you can’t do safety on the cheap – the business owners I’ve met know this all too well.

Portsmouth works best when we work together. Local businesses and police in our city have now established a partnership that I hope can provide a sustainable framework for community safety in the future.’

Stephen has called on the Police and Crime Commissioner, who recently lost a landslide vote of no confidence undertaken by the Police Federation, to use reserves to invest in frontline policing in Portsmouth to tackle local priorities.