Local community representatives and residents raised concerns over the future of the Portsea Adventure Playground at a meeting with council officers earlier this week.
A meeting was called at the request of volunteers involved with the Portsea Adventure Play Association after the city council prepared to move staff between the city’s other five adventure playgrounds. Proposals would mean the popular deputy manager at the site moving elsewhere in the city.
At the outset of the meeting council officers told play association volunteers and Cllr Stephen Morgan, ward councillor for the area, that managers would not change their mind over the staffing moves, despite concerns raised and a petition from local people.
Community representatives were concerned staffing changes would mean more changes afoot at the popular play facilities on Aylward Street, Portsea.
Pressed on the issue, now council staff have provided much-needed assurances to local people that the future of the adventure playground in the heart of Portsea is secure.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Labour’s deputy group leader said:
Cllr Stephen Morgan speaking at the Portsea Adventure
“As a former play worker in the city myself I know consistency in staffing is really important so that children and young people can build a rapport with the staff team. So I share the concerns of community representatives at the meeting.
With such fantastic and active local people involved in the delivery of this service in the heart of Portsea, I think the council needs to do more to engage these volunteers in any changes to the service much earlier on in the process in future.
Without their passion and giving up their time for free, the service just wouldn’t run.
Whilst there is obvious disappointment about the changes to the staff team, we are assured the council have confirmed the future of the popular playground is secure. That’s what our community deserves”.
Portsea Adventure Playground is a free adventure play facility in the heart of Portsmouth, staffed by dedicated and qualified staff supplied by Portsmouth City Council. At adventure playgrounds children make their own choices about what they want to do, motivating them to become independent and boost their confidence.
A year ago, the Labour Campaign to End Homelessness (LCEH) was set up to encourage the party to make a commitment to end homelessness. Now key commitments have been identified to make this pledge a reality.
This is not seen as a pipe dream. Leading national homelessness charities such as Crisis and Shelter believe that by working together we can end homelessness too.
Under the last Labour government, homelessness fell substantially, but it was not eradicated. Yet in recent years, homelessness has doubled nationally according to DCLG statistics.
Locally too we have seen these national trends reflected in our city, with the number of rough sleepers on Portsmouth’s streets doubling in the past year.
A pledge to end homelessness by the Labour Party has now been formalised by the LCEH campaign group, and they have Cllr Stephen Morgan’s backing.
In an open letter to The Guardian this week the campaign group made up of MPs, councillors and party activists from across the country have called for Labour to make real the pledge to end homelessness.
The open letter states:
“We ask the Party to consider five key policies which will go towards eradicating homelessness. We also ask that the next Labour government enacts these policies in the order set out below:
- A government-led national structure involving all of the major organisations, including statutory and community sector organisations, dedicated to ending homelessness.
- Implement more efficient preventative measures and early intervention programs to stop homelessness becoming entrenched and end the cycle.
- Create a more effective registration system and information database of rough sleepers and hidden homeless to begin the process of rehousing.
- Enshrine the right to a home for everyone and begin the process of rehousing all of the UK’s homeless population, including those with complex needs.
- Launch a substantial and sustainable programme of public and social house building.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Labour’s housing spokesperson said:
“I welcome this open letter on what Labour should do to end homelessness in our country, and have therefore adding my name to it.
These proposals are well-thought through, evidence-based and practical. They are just the solutions we need to see to end homelessness once and for all. They have my full support here in Portsmouth”.
Since being elected to Portsmouth City Council in May 2016, Cllr Morgan has joined a member-led working group to explore local issues, work with partner agencies and find innovative ways to address rough sleeping in the city.
You may have heard some worrying-sounding noises recently about the apparent removal of animals and birds from Victoria Park. Portsmouth Labour would like to set the record straight on the park’s future.
Victoria Park in the heart of our great city was opened on 25 May 1878, and was the first public park to be opened in Portsmouth. As well as the animals and birds the 15 acre site also has a number of monuments and a play area for children.
Back in July a high level action plan with a range of options for the park was agreed at the city council’s Planning, Regeneration and Economic Development (PRED) meeting. At this stage, the plan is simply for guidance. Next we are told we can expect consultation on what the future will look like.
Some things are certain. The future of Victoria Park will include the much-loved aviary, animals, and unlimited community access. Your Labour representatives on the council have sought, and received, assurance on this from the council’s administration.
It could also see some innovative services for adults with learning disabilities, who will have the opportunity to get involved in animal welfare and horticulture.
One question about the future of Victoria Park that has proved controversial is – what will happen to the Arts Lodge?
The council has decided to serve a contract break on Art and Soul traders, who are the current tenants of the Arts Lodge. This decision was taken to keep options for the future use of the venue open for both parties, rather than committing to a long-term lease.
At Full Council in July, your Labour Group supported a Liberal Democrat motion to support the Art Lodge. Members of Portsmouth Labour have also been working with the Art and Soul traders on their fundraising efforts.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, deputy leader of the Labour Group, explains Labour’s views on what’s next:
“Given the lack of public open spaces in our dense city environment, we welcome the council’s efforts to produce an action plan for Victoria Park. We want to see the park not simply protected, but also enhanced, for the benefit of all local people.
“We like the sound of creating opportunities for residents with learning difficulties, and we are pleased that the action plan recognises the importance of community access to an upgraded public space.
This consultation will be key to make sure changes made are what the public want. I urge everyone to have their say when the council consults”.
Portsmouth Labour also want to see a secure future for the Art and Soul traders. They have invested time and money into the Arts Lodge, where they deliver important work with widely appreciated benefits for the community.
“Whatever happens next, it is important that the Art and Soul traders receive assurance that they can continue their great work. They deserve to be able to plan for their future,” Cllr Stephen Morgan added.
“If a decision is ultimately made to change the purpose of the current Arts Lodge to bring about a different community benefit, Labour will ask the council does everything in its power to support the traders in finding suitable alternative premises.”
Local people have given a cautious welcome to the city council’s announcement that the authority will be seeking further compensation from Keepmoat, the contractors in charge of the building work at Wilmcote House, north Somerstown.
The news broke after Labour’s housing spokesperson and local ward representative, Cllr Stephen Morgan has been working with residents since Christmas to help address local concerns. Support has included hosting two residents’ meetings for people to have their say.
In a story titled ‘Fury as renovation delays leave Portsmouth residents living in a nightmare’ in The News on 9 August 2016, the council’s Cabinet Member for Housing agreed with Cllr Morgan and recognised that the delays and disruption are having an impact of residents’ lives.
He has committed to enforcing the terms of the contract, meaning contractors could be short by many thousands of pounds. Some of this could be used to compensate tenants for the inconvenience caused.
Work on the redevelopment of the properties started back in December 2013. The scheme has been plagued with problems throughout the project, with residents increasingly dismayed by the setbacks.
News also broke that the building works are delayed further, with the first block – whilst due to have been completed in May – still has work outstanding, and the overall scheme pushed back again from January 2017 to later in spring next year.
In hearing the news, Wilmcote House resident Chris Evans said:
“I am assured the council’s administration is finally listening. This redevelopment has been a nightmare for three years. The whole thing’s a joke.
I hope this isn’t just warm words and we see better compensation and a decent rent rebate all residents rightly deserve for all the disruption we’ve suffered.
Meetings must continue with progress reports given to the tenants by Keepmoat and better communication put in place. The contractors owe us that much at least”.
Cllr Stephen Morgan added:
“Solutions need to be found to finally solve the problems residents have faced with the ongoing building work, and fast. I’ve heard too many horror stories, and residents feel let down by this project and rightly deserve action.
The council and contractors need to crack on and get this project back on track. I am happy to work with the council’s administration to make sure this happens”.
Some residents have been in touch with me about how to report a hate crime. The following information is included in the latest issue of the city council’s House Talk and is really useful.
Hate crime is any criminal offence perceived by someone to be motivated by prejudice or hatred based on a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity.
A hate crime can be physical violence, verbal abuse, online threats, obscene calls, criminal damage, arson, dumping of rubbish etc.
The council’s housing and property services’ antisocial behaviour unit has a specialist
caseworker to provide victims of hate crime with a high standard of practical support. The victim must be a Portsmouth City Council tenant or leaseholder.
How does the council support victims?
As each case is different the council develop a specific individual action plan which can include support thorhgout the criminal justice process, emotional support, advocacy, housing advice, evidence gathering and home and personal safety advice and signposting for victims in employment disputes.
Key things to know:
- If you or another person perceives a crime to be motivated by hate then it will be treated as such
- Hate crime can affect everyone. The council supports victims of any age from a variety of backgrounds.
- Hate crime will not be tolerated
To report it or speak to someone in confidence contact 023 9284 1050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can contact your housing officer, city helpdesk or visit www.portsmouth.gov.uk; searching ‘hate crime’.