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Council funding freeze ‘may mean further cuts to essential services’

The Local Government Association – an umbrella body representing councils – has joined voices across local government in issuing a warning to government after the latest funding settlement offered no additional money for authorities in 2017/18.
Even the Tories’ Gary Porter, head of the LGA, has now shared his “huge disappointment” about the decision not to increase funding, warning that while councils would impose tax rises, the money would not be enough to prevent services, including social care, from being hit.
Issuing a statement this week Porter said: “Social care faces a funding gap of £2.6bn by 2020… It cannot be left to council taxpayers alone to try and fix this”.
Councils, the NHS, charities and care providers are increasingly united around the need for new government funding for social care. By continuing to ignore the warnings, social care remains in crisis and councils and the NHS continue to be pushed to the financial brink.
Concerns follow the government’s publication of the final Local Government Settlement on Monday without any notification to the media.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, has been calling on the government to provide a fairer deal for local government and better deal for Portsmouth.
In the city’s budget debate in the council chamber last week he said:
“We know that areas with greater needs or a low council tax base have been consistently hit harder by government, and that residents here have suffered more as a result.
Our evidence also shows there will be no let-up in the government’s determination to punish our city.
The government’s funding distribution continues to penalise Portsmouth, and that as far as the government is concerned, we are on our own. Portsmouth people deserve better”.
Predictions suggest councils across the country will face an overall £5.8 billion funding gap by 2020.
This will push councils perilously close to the financial edge over the next few years and force them to consider further reductions to the local services communities rely on to plug growing funding gaps.
Cllr Morgan added:
“Our role must be to oppose this government’s approach while continuing to grow the city and provide services to the public that we can be proud of.
We must be at the forefront of what local government is doing, and can achieve, in the most challenging of circumstances.
Everyone in this city should know my group is doing everything it can to help people get through the difficult times, and ensure this city has the foundations it needs to build a fairer future”.
 
 
 

City's learning disability champion makes a difference

City's learning disability champion makes a difference

Over the weekend Cllr Stephen Morgan had the pleasure to meet with the city’s learning disability champion to find out about his work in the city and offer support.
untitledJohn Attrill (pictured) is the city’s first learning disability champion.
He is supported by Portsmouth City Council to raise awareness of the needs and aspirations of people with a learning disability across the city and promote their rights and support fair access to all public services in Portsmouth.
As the city’s champion John also supports strategic planning and the development and commissioning of local services, representing views at relevant meetings and engages with employers (in the voluntary, public and private sectors) to develop and support access to work opportunities.
Cllr Stephen Morgan said:
“It was great to catch up with John and hear the things he has been up to on behalf of people with a learning disability.
I was very impressed to hear the positive partnership working in place with South West Trains supporting station staff and providing opportunities for people with a learning disability to learn new skills and gain experience for the world of work. I am pleased to learn there are plans to roll this initiative out to other stations in the city.
John is passionate about his role as the city’s learning disability and I congratulate him for all his hard work on behalf of the community”.
If you would like to know more about how the learning disability champion can help you, or would like him to attend meetings to represent people with a learning disability, you can contact him in the following ways:
John Attrill, Kestrel Centre, St James Hospital, Locksway Road, Portsmouth PO4 8LD. Tel: 023 9268 4600 or email: john.attrill@portsmouthcc.gov.uk
 
 
 

Investing in the city’s infrastructure: The Hard takes shape

Investing in the city’s infrastructure: The Hard takes shape

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). 
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This weekend 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 click here

 
 
 

It’s time to make the heart of Portsmouth beat again

It’s time to make the heart of Portsmouth beat again

Plans have been announced by the city council to redevelop the city centre after years of delay, setbacks and lack of investment.
Funding for new city centre roads as part of Portsmouth’s local plan were agreed as part of a package of proposals in the council’s capital budget on Tuesday by councillors of all parties.
A new plan is being put together proposing 2,600 homes and 9,700 permanent jobs as part of a high-level master-plan for the regeneration scheme.
If the new roads go ahead it will open up large parts of land between Princess Royal Road and Cascades Shopping Centre for development.
Research tells us that congestion costs the city’s businesses £10m a year in lost productivity. At the same time, the city centre has some of the highest levels of air pollution in the country.

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On a site visit in Commercial Road


Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth Labour Leader said:
“Congestion and air pollution are a massive burden on local people. I hope these new roads will address residents’ concerns and get Portsmouth moving again.”
The new road scheme forms part of a wider city centre development plan being drawn up with more residential housing, new shopping opportunities and a leisure offer.
On the new ideas for the city centre Cllr Morgan said:
“I’m committed to securing a prosperous future for our city. To do that Portsmouth needs to attract more private sector investment to help create the good quality jobs that local people need.  With it we must ensure that there is more affordable housing for local people”.
Portsmouth Labour wants to make sure that the city gets the best deal possible to regenerate our tired city centre, and create something for future generations to be proud of. 
Cllr Morgan added:
“It is hugely important the council listens to the views of the community in developing these ideas into concrete proposals.
In my opinion a mixed use development with much needed new homes for local people – complementing a better retail offer in the city centre – should be a key part of the plan.
It’s time the heart of our city gets its beat back and is a destination once again”.
 
 

Borrowed time to save social care for elderly argues 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 2017/18 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”.