City’s port is ship shape

City’s port is ship shape

Portsmouth’s Labour Leader has paid a visit to the city’s International Port to meet the port’s new director and tour the site.
Over the years the city council has invested heavily in new passenger facilities, and the well-designed airport style terminal – opened a few years ago – delivers a first class experience for travellers. And recent statistics show that this investment is paying off.
Latest passenger figures for ferry crossings to France reveal 2016 was a record year at the city’s port, with passenger numbers hitting a ten year high. Last year the number of passengers crossing to France from Portsmouth International Port rose by 3.7% to 1.7 million.
The amount of freight being carried from Portsmouth International to the near continent by Brittany Ferries has also risen significantly. The operator, which is based in Portsmouth, saw freight units rising by 3% to 146,199.
Cllr Stephen Morgan paid Mike Sellers the new port director a visit to catch up on the port’s performance and hear what more the city council could do to ensure future success.
FullSizeRender-22He said:
“It was great to visit the International Port today and meet Mike and his team. A successful port means jobs for local people, greater investment in our great city, and a stronger local economy.
I am pleased to learn of recent passenger numbers and Brittany Ferries continued commitment to our city. Plans to attract new cruise liners berthing in Portsmouth are exciting and have my backing.
I offered my support to the team to work with important partners – such as the Royal Navy, University and local businesses – to ensure this fantastic asset in the heart of our city continues to deliver for everyone”.
Portsmouth’s international port has been in operation since 1976. Owned and operated by the city council, the port has grown extensively over the decades.
Initially it offered just one route to France from a small section of reclaimed harbour front. It is now known as Britain’s Best Connected Port with more destinations than any other UK Port. The Port’s location on the M275 offers fast connections to London.
For more information about the port visit:

This week is Down Syndrome Awareness Week

This year’s Down Syndrome Awareness Week kicked off yesterday incorporating World Down Syndrome on Tuesday 21 March. The theme is ‘Don’t just see Down’s syndrome’ and aims to encourage greater inclusion in schools, the community and working environment.
Based at the Sarah Duffen Centre (Cottage Grove School Campus), ‘Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association’ is one of the UK’s top providers of social and specialist educational services for children with Down syndrome, their families and related professionals.
The charity offer services including New Baby Support Groups, Early Intervention Sessions, Speech and Drama Therapy, and a School Advisory Service supporting the successful inclusion of our children in more than 60 mainstream schools.
They also offer regular training for school staff, parents and other health related professionals, with over 40 midwives and health care professionals attended a ‘Tell it Right Training’ at the QA Hospital recently.
Speaking in support of the charity’s awareness raising activities, Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth Labour Leader, said:
“Down Syndrome is one of the most misunderstood learning disabilities, which is why the work of Portsmouth’s association and all it does tirelessly to support people with DS, and their families, is hugely important.
When children and adults with Down Syndrome are given opportunities to participate, and are fully included, then the whole community benefits.
In this week of awareness I want to pay a special thank you to the Association for all they do in our city”.
As part of Down Syndrome Week local people are being invited to go onto Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association’s Facebook Page and give it a ‘like’. The charity helps to achieve 2,000 new likes by the end of the week!

Concerns over future of funding for schools

Portsmouth Labour has joined local headteachers and union representatives in sharing concerns over the government’s introduction of a new investment formula for allocating funding to schools.
The News reported this week that local union members have thrown their support behind headteachers saying they have ‘no choice but to make cuts as some schools could lose tens of thousands of pounds over the next few years’.
While some school leadership teams are considering cutting staff, others are looking at stopping external groups holding clubs and subjects being taken off the curriculum.
The government’s new funding formula will mean money moved from urban areas. The Department for Education, which announced the new formula in December last year, said Portsmouth should see an increase in funding under the proposed changes, but critics remain concerned.
Educational leaders have said while some schools will see extra money, others will lose out. The government is saying in cash terms there is more money but they aren’t taking into account a rise in costs for schools.
For example, national insurance has risen as have pensions for staff. Local authorities are no longer required to provide some specialist services so schools are having to pay for these themselves, meaning that there is less money to spend per pupil.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, is concerned by insufficient funding in the city and real-terms cuts to school budgets.
He said:
Schools and councils up and down the country are raising their concerns with central government about the future funding of our education system and the flaws in the new funding formula.
Schools are under huge pressure to make ends meet at a time when so much is being done to improve attendance, engagement and attainment of all young people in Portsmouth.
Cutting school funding in some of the most deprived communities in the country, where educational attainment is often more challenging, makes no sense.
Our city and our school children deserve a better deal from this government”.

Disabled people face unfair hardship

People with a disability are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people as a result of additional associated costs, and Personal Independent Payments (PIP) is a key source of income to prevent real hardship. But last week the government changed the rules on PIP.
By shifting the goal posts, the government will strip entitlements from over 160,000 disabled people and people with chronic mental health conditions, money which an independent tribunal believe is rightfully theirs.
Some claimants will not be able to access the full support they are entitled to – an effective cut worth £3.7bn.
Labour have been fighting these PIP regulations since they were sneaked out at the end of February. Now more than 30 disability charities have written to ministers urging them not to restrict access to PIP, echoing Labour’s calls not to go ahead with these draconian changes.
The government refused to listen to the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) who, like the charities and disabled people’s organisations, they failed to consult before introducing these changes.
The government disagreed with all of SSAC’s reasonable recommendations that there should be wider engagement prior to any changes and that these proposals should be tested before implemented.
Campaigners have also said people with mental health conditions need to be treated fairly and being properly supported to live full and independent lives.
These changes would create a legal distinction between mental health problems and other kinds of impairments when it comes to assessments. So much for parity of esteem.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, said:
“The government needs to know that enough is enough.
Proposals completely go against the government’s commitment to putting mental health on an equal footing with physical health.
More can, and must, be done to support disabled people to live full and independent lives.
I urge ministers to think again about these new regulations which will leave thousands of people with a disability without any financial support”.
You can show your support for this campaign by signing Labour’s petition calling on the government’s new regulations not to be implemented.

Endless winter for our NHS

Endless winter for our NHS

The latest NHS situation reports for accident and emergency (A&E) performance have been published this week and show the crisis in the NHS winter crisis stretching into spring.
Across the country, emergency admissions in the week ending 12 March were the highest they have been so far this winter and A&E attendances in the week ending 12 March were the highest since December.
In the week ending 12 March, there were 19 temporary diverts from one A&E to another to provide temporary respite. Overall, there have been around 84 per cent more diverts this winter than last winter.
In the week ending 12 March, 34 different trusts reported serious operational pressures at some point. On average, 20 trusts each day reported serious operational pressures.
Last week, 13 trusts across the nation had average bed occupancy over 99 per cent – up from 12 in the previous week.
Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:
“Standards for NHS patients have collapsed this winter because Theresa May just hasn’t given the health service the resources and the priority it needs.
It beggars belief that such pressure is still being seen on A&E after months of crisis – it is a sign of a wider system creaking under the strain of Tory neglect’.
The situation report follows news that nearly £2m is being spent in Portsmouth as a result of bed-blocking at QA Hospital. On average, about 240 people are stuck in beds at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, despite being medically fit for discharge.
And with the cost of a patient per bed per day around £250, on a single day the problem of bed-blocking is costing the NHS £60,000 – £1.8m a month.
1Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader said:
“Our NHS is underresourced, understaffed and overstretched. We see the impact of this on a day-to-day basis on health services here in Portsmouth.
Waiting times for specialist appointments and clearing beds of people who are well enough to be discharged are key for improving the A&E services at QA.”
His comments come after latest figures from NHS England revealed Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, saw, treated or discharged only 66.7 per cent of patients within the four-hour target in January. The government target is 95 per cent.
Cllr Morgan added:
“The government needs to get a grip and make clear what action it is going to take so that patients and their families never have to suffer a winter like this ever again and the crisis we see in our NHS finally comes to an end.”

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