City needs more ship repair work

Portsmouth’s Labour Leader has called for more ship repair work to be undertaken in the city to secure the industry and protect local jobs in the Dockyard.
The call follows news that HMS Lancaster a type 23 frigate, is to be towed to Devonport in Plymouth for a refit and not its home port of Portsmouth this summer.
HMS Lancaster was originally built on the Clyde and joined the Royal Navy’s Fleet in 1992. The multi-role ship has been deployed on drug-busting or maritime security patrols around the world. She has been laid up in the Dockyard since the end of 2015.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, who represents Charles Dickens ward where the Dockyard is based said:
“What people in the industry who rely on these jobs tell me is that what is key for the Dockyard’s future is securing more ship repair work in our city. Sadly more and seems to be going to Plymouth and elsewhere.
We have the skills and expertise in Portsmouth. It’s time our city is prioritised for these jobs”.
Naval shipbuilding and repair operations started in the city when the first dock was built in 1194. The world’s first dry dock was constructed in 1495.
Last week a union leader said it was important for Portsmouth to seize the opportunity when the tenders are invited by government to create new naval supply ships in the pipeline for construction.
GMB want the new breed of Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships built as soon as possible to replace three fleet solid support vessels.
Plans for the new ships were confirmed in 2015’s Strategic Defence and Security Review.
Cllr Morgan added:
“It is hugely important for our local economy that the city becomes an international shipbuilding location once again.
Whilst building new ships in Portsmouth will help achieve this, there is much more the city’s workforce can offer to repair and maintain the Navy’s existing fleet. Their skills are vital.

I call on our local MPs to now act.  We must work together to secure the Dockyard’s future in Portsmouth and these important repair jobs in our great city”.
Her Majesty’s Naval Base in the city is the home port to 60% of the Royal Navy’s surface ships. The port is controlled and operated by the Royal Navy in cooperation with BAE Systems Surface Ships (previously known as BVT Surface Fleet).

New plan for business rates to address growing fears

Labour is responding to fears about the impact of looming business rate hikes for some businesses by calling on the government to set up an emergency ‘transitional relief fund’ and take a series of measures to ease the business rate burden for business.
Business rates revaluation due to come into effect on 1 April have caused uproar as it has emerged that the average small shop will be hit by an extra £3,663 in rates over the next 5 years, while many large online retailers will see their rates cut.
The big four superstores – Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons – will see a 5.9% reduction in Rateable Value, while online retailer, ASOS, will see their rates bill fall from £1.17million to £1.14million, despite reporting UK retail sales growth of 18%.
The changes have led to calls from businesses to reform the business rates system so that it better reflects changing shopping patterns.
Labour have developed a five point plan to help business survive the revaluation and develop a system of business taxation suitable for the 21st century.
The plan includes setting up an emergency transitional relief fund for businesses facing “cliff edge” increases in their rates, and revise the appeals process to ensure businesses get a swift and fair hearing; bringing forward CPI indexation so that businesses aren’t paying more because of how inflation is measured; excluding new investment in plant and machinery from future business rates valuation; and; introducing more regular valuations in law to stop businesses facing periodic, unmanageable hikes.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour leader said:
“Fundamental reform of the business rates system is much over due. The government must ease the burden on our high streets and town centres in the age of online shopping; support the traditional fabric of our communities, including community pubs to protect them from closure; and create a fairer system of business taxation.
Too often we hear of pubs, shops and restaurants in our great city of ours at risk of closure. It cannot be right for small businesses to be facing massive hikes while international online retailers have their business rates cut.
The government have mishandled the new process, and should provide immediate emergency relief to stop thousands of businesses going under”.
Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“Business rates are an outdated tax. FSB is keen for all political parties to help those small firms hardest hit by the current revaluation, and to start to focus on fundamental longer-term reform of business rates to make sure it’s fair for small firms.
It is incredibly important to support small businesses and the self-employed so they don’t face shock tax rises, so we are delighted to take part in the roundtable.”
Andrew Silvester, Head of Campaigns and Deputy Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors said:
“It’s hugely important that politicians on all sides look for constructive ways to reform business rates. This is a 20th century system and in a 21st century economy it looks painfully out of date.”

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:

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). 
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


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