Monday, 24 December 2012

Stephen Metcalfe MP bringing some Christmas cheer to children at Basildon Hospital

Stephen Metcalfe MP with staff and volunteers at Basildon Hospital

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, was today joined by Council Leader Tony Ball and Local Olympic Hopefuls from South Essex Gymnastics Club; Reiss, Anthony & Brinn together with their coach, Scott Hann and Club Chairman, Roy Short, to spend the morning giving out Christmas presents to children in Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital.
 
Having recently met local representatives from the hospital and hearing about the children that would spend time over Christmas in hospital, Stephen Metcalfe launched a Christmas toy appeal which he hoped would bring a little Christmas cheer to the patients.
 
Stephen Metcalfe said: “I was overwhelmed by the response to the appeal. In a little over two weeks, we have had gifts and money donated by individual well wishers including Conservative Party Members, staff at Basildon JobCentre Plus, Community Service clubs such as the Buffalos and the Rotary Club and businesses across Basildon and Thurrock. I was also delighted when South Essex Gymnastics Club also wanted to get involved. I would like to thank everyone for their generosity and for getting on board with this appeal.”
 
Mr Metcalfe’s visit comes at a difficult time for the hospital that are having to make a number of immediate changes to improve its paediatric services and ensure safe care for young patients.
 
Stephen Metcalfe commented: “I hope the visit raised the spirits of both children and staff at this challenging time at the hospital.”
 
He continued: “No one would want their child to be in hospital at anytime, but over the Christmas period it can be especially difficult. I hope that this small gesture will bring a little Christmas cheer to the patients and their Carers.”
 
“I would again like to thank all those who have generously donated gifts and it was my privilege to give them out and to spend time with the children and their parents today.”

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes new immigration controls

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed new policies announced by the Home Secretary to combat immigration abuses and to cut net migration further.

Theresa May has this week set out new plans to extend the use of interviews in visa applications instead of relying on paper applications alone.

The new measures come shortly after the latest migration statistics showed that the government’s reforms of all the routes of immigration have cut net immigration by a quarter, with the total number of visas issued is at its lowest since 2005.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Thanks to Conservative reforms we have already seen net migration cut  by a quarter compared to last year and the total number of visas issued is at its lowest since 2005”

“Under Labour immigration was out of control. It accounted for more than half the growth of the English and Welsh population between 2001 and 2011 – with total net immigration of 2.2 million.”

"This new approach will help us to root out the abuse of British visas, improve the integrity of our immigration system and bring the numbers down even further."

Stephen Metcalfe MP: New community sentences will give victims a voice

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Justice
hearing about anti-social behaviour
 from local residents in Felmores in the run up to
the General Election in 2010
Victims of anti-social behaviour in South Basildon and East Thurrock will be given their say on out-of-court punishment of offenders under new powers announced by the Home Office last week.

The new’ Community Remedy’ will put the public in the driving seat by giving victims of crime the chance to choose from a list of punishment options, agreed with their local Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

Stephen Metcalfe MP commented: “Victims of anti-social behaviour can feel powerless but these tough new community sentences will give victims their voice.”

“Under the Community Remedy the punishment could be restorative or punitive, carried out nearby or as far away as possible but all will have one thing in common: they will be chosen by the victim.”

“I know local people want to see tough and fair punishments. These new sentences will mean just that.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP supports Longwood Equestrian Centre at show-jumping event

Stephen Metcalfe with two of the numerous winners.
Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, attended the Longwood Equestrian Centre’s show jumping Christmas fun event last week to present prizes to two of the eight classes competing.

The event saw hundreds of riders take part in events such as the ‘Evening Clear’ round, one of many show-jumping and equestrian events that take place at the centre throughout the year.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed the event. There is some fantastic talent at the Centre and I would like to congratulate all those involved, both competitors and organisers.”

Having been established on the site for over 30 years as both a competition centre and an Approved Riding School, Longwood Equestrian Centre has a long and valuable association with Basildon.

Mr Metcalfe added: “This is a great facility and it was great to see so many people making use of it.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP: Make checks before donating to charitable collectors

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock is warning local residents to check they are giving to a registered charity when approached for donations.

2 in 5 adults across the UK do not make any checks when approached by a collector for a charitable donation, according to an independent ICM poll* commissioned by the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB).

Christmas is a traditional time for giving and charities work hard to raise money during this time to fund their work. Almost half (44%)** of donors give directly to charity at Christmas time, giving an average of around £46 to the good causes they care about. 81% of those who give at Christmas stated they will be donating similar amounts this year as they did in 2011.

Almost all collections are genuine, but some people will try to abuse the generosity of others for their own gain. With some charities having experienced fraud, it is vital that the public know that their donations are going to the right place. The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, and Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB), the self-regulatory body for UK fundraising, have come together to highlight the risk of fraud to donors and charities alike, and to issue their tips for giving this Christmas.

Stephen Metcalfe MP commented: “Christmas is undoubtedly a time for giving and thinking of others but unfortunately there are a minority of collectors who may seek to take advantage of the season’s good will. I urge my constituents to listen to the advice of the Charity Commission so that they can give confidently this Christmas.”

Sam Younger, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, says: “Whilst it is encouraging to see many people do take steps to check whether a charity is registered before giving, this poll shows there is still much to be done to raise awareness of charity fraud to donors and charities. It only takes a few minutes to check for a registered charity number and for the FRSB tick, but these are vital steps in ensuring your money goes to the right place. In a tough economic climate it is heartening to see that 81% of Christmas donors will continue to give similar amounts this year as they did last Christmas, and the Charity Commission continues to work hard to maintain the public’s trust in charities, and raise awareness of fraudulent activities”.

Follow these tips to avoid charity scams this Christmas:
1.               Before giving, check the charity’s name and registration number.  You can verify this at the Charity Commission’s website at www.charitycommission.gov.uk.
2.               When approached by collectors, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed.
3.               If in doubt, ask the collector for more information - a genuine fundraiser should be happy to answer questions and explain more about the work of the charity.
4.               Genuine fundraising materials should feature the charity’s name, registered name and a landline contact number.  Be wary of those that list only a mobile number.
5.               Look for the FRSB tick logo indicating that the charity is signed up to fundraising regulation, encouraging you to give with confidence. www.givewithconfidence.org.uk
6.               To check whether a fundraiser is authorised to collect money in a public place, contact your local authority or, if in London, the police. If it is a private place, check with the owner.
7.               Take care when responding to emails or clicking links to a charity’s website to ensure that they are genuine. Instead, search online for your favourite charity to check you have the right web address.
8.               Carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to ascertain whether they are from a genuine charity.
9.               After making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and inform the Charity Commission.
10.           If in any doubt, contact your favoured charity direct to make a donation.


Alistair McLean, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Standards Board – the charity fundraising regulator across the UK, says: “Although charity fraud remains rare, it is essential that we all do what we can to make it increasingly difficult for criminals to cheat charities and their supporters in this way. And that simply means being aware and, if in doubt, making a few checks to ensure your money ends up where you want it to be. Above all, don’t stop giving. Charities need your support now more than ever”.


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Stephen Metcalfe MP to bring some Christmas cheer to children at Basildon Hospital


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, will be spending this Friday morning giving out Christmas presents to children in Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital.
 
Having recently met local representatives from the Hospital and hearing about the children that would spend Christmas in Hospital, Stephen Metcalfe launched a Christmas Toy appeal  which he hopes would bring a little Christmas Cheer to the patient.
 
Stephen Metcalfe said: “I have been overwhelmed by the response to the appeal. In a little over two weeks, we have had gifts and money donated by individual well wishers, Community Service clubs such as the Buffalos and the Rotary Club and businesses across Basildon and Thurrock. This truly will be a community led and inspired occasion and I would like to thank everyone for their generosity.”
 
Mr Metcalfe’s visit will come at a difficult time for the Hospital who are having to make a number of immediate changes to improve its paediatric services and ensure safe care for young patients.
 
Stephen Metcalfe commented: “I think this will be an extremely timely visit that will raise the spirits of both children and staff at this challenging time at the hospital.”
 
He continued: “No one would want their child to be in hospital over the Christmas period and I hope that this small gesture will bring a smile to their faces and spread some Christmas cheer.”
 
“I would again like to thank all those who have generously donated gifts and I look forward to the privilege of giving them out and spending time with the children on Friday.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP joins Stanford-le-Hope for Carols on the Green

Stephen Metcalfe with Stanford-le-Hope Town Crier and Rev. John Guest

Last Sunday, Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock joined Stanford-le-Hope residents for their annual Carols on the Green service.
The annual event organised by St Margaret’s Church and the local ‘Hope Committee’, was the perfect opportunity for the community to come together and get into the Christmas spirit; to sing a few carols and to see local school children re-enact the traditional nativity play.
Proceedings were led by Rev Jon Guest, disguised as the Prophet Isaiah, who retold the story of the very first Christmas.
Mr Metcalfe gladly accepted the invitation to take part in the event and reflected on some of his own experiences of nativities and carol services before reading a passage from Isaiah 9 to the many onlookers.
He later commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed Carols on the Green. It was a fantastic opportunity to come alongside local people to celebrate Christmas and to reflect on the Christmas story and the true meaning of Christmas. Being outside created a fantastic atmosphere and I hope that everyone who attended enjoyed it as much as I did.”
“I would like to thank St Margaret’s and the Hope Committee for the invitation and for organising this great event. Finally, can I take this opportunity to wish all those present and all my constituents a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

Stephen Metcalfe MP: Stansted is vital to the commercial landscape of Essex

Stephen Metcalfe MP with Stansted Airport MD, Nick Barton

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, visited Stansted Airport last Friday to discuss its future and to keep up to date with developments at the airport.
 
Stansted is the fourth biggest airport in the UK and provides a major catalyst for growth and productivity in the region. The airport employs over 10,000 people and is the biggest single site employer in the East of England, contributing to £400 million in wages and salaries alone.
 
Nick Barton, Managing Director, Stansted Airport said: "I was delighted to show Stephen the first rate facilities at Stansted and hope that he leaves us today better informed about the airport and our plans for the future.”
 
"With approval to serve 35 million passengers a year, Stansted has a key role to play in the future airport capacity of London and the South East."
 
Mr Metcalfe commented: “As I am on record opposing the proposed Estuary Airport, we need to find a sustainable way of increasing capacity and I am sure that Stansted will play its part.”
 
“Stansted is vital to the commercial landscape of Essex and it is therefore extremely important that I keep up to date with any developments.”
 
“I look forward to seeing how the airport will develop and no doubt I will be visiting again soon to check that the airport continues to optimally serve my constituents.”

The show must go on...and it did!


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, demonstrated his support for Basildon Council’s annual panto by attending a gala performance of Peter Pan at the Towngate Theatre, Basildon.
 
Despite some technical difficulties the cast and audience alike rose to the occasion and proved the age old adage – the show must go on!
 
This year, the panto was chosen via public vote, and Peter Pan has proven to be the Towngate Theatres most successful to date with ticket sales up 40% from last year.
JM Barrie's children’s story, whose royalties still go to support Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, is undoubtedly one of the most famous and best-loved children’s books; an unforgettable magical fantasy that has been enjoyed by generations for over a hundred years. Combine this with some panto magic and the audience is sure to be in for an enjoyable evening of entertainment.
Stephen Metcalfe, along with a packed theatre, took the chance to fly far far away to Neverland last Friday evening. He commented: “The panto was brilliant. I would like to congratulate all involved for their fantastic performances and hard work in spite of a little local difficulty. The end result was a professional, funny and highly entertaining show that I would recommend to all of my constituents.”
 
Following this year’s success, Basildon Council are inviting people to vote on what they would like to see next year. To register your vote for either Mother Goose, Sleeping Beauty or Snow White,  please emailtowngate@basildon.gov.uk or write to Towngate Theatre, St Martins Square, Basildon, Essex, SS14 1DL.
 
In the meantime, Peter Pan will be at the TownGate Theatre until the 6th January.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Stephen Metcalfe MP meets with members of the new Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group


(LtoR) Accountable Officer - Dr Nimal Raj, Stephen Metcalfe,  
Finance &Technical Chair - Mr S Khan and Chair of the CCG, Mr M Porter

Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has met with key members of the Thurrock NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to discuss the future of the delivery of health services in Thurrock.
The CCG is a new organisation set to take over from the Primary Care Trust in the near future. Driven by clinicians and supported by a wide range of professionals, the CCG will play a key role in the commissioning and delivery of the local health agenda with the primary aim of delivering seamless, quality services to the public, patients and carers of Thurrock.
Commenting, Mr Metcalfe said: “The establishment of a CCG in Thurrock is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.  It will put the NHS back in the hands of local practitioners who best know how to meet local needs and improve standards of healthcare in the Thurrock area.”
“I am actively ensuring that I am well informed about this changeover. I am meeting with the people and organisations driving the move and I will continue to work with them to ensure that my constituents receive the best possible health care.”
For more information on Thurrock CCG and participating GP practices please visit: http://www.mysurgerywebsite.co.uk/index.aspx?p=X30412.

Stephen Metcalfe MP congratulates all involved in Pitsea housing development

Stephen Metcalfe with a group of new residents.
Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has congratulated the collaborative efforts of Genesis Housing Group, Logic Homes, and Basildon Council on the completion of a landmark housing development in Pitsea.
The £14 million development in Station Lane is the result of two years of hard work and consists of 121 one and two bed  homes. 56 of these will be of shared ownership, 25 with immediate rent and 40 of general needs.
Stephen Metcalfe MP, who buried a time capsule at the site at the launch of the development, commented: “Over the last two years as I have been out in about in Pitsea I have seen this remarkable transformation take shape week after week. This is a fantastic start to the regeneration of Pitsea and I am sure all new residents will enjoy their time at exciting new development.”
The new homes as well as catering for families and single people, also have special facilities for over 55s. These include level access showers in ground floor apartments, warden alarms and access to mobility scooter parking making this a development for the whole community.
Mr Metcalfe added: “The development has already lifted the appearance of Pitsea. I would like to thank  and congratulate the collaborative efforts of all involved in the development. From Genesis Housing Group to the apprentices from Prospects College, all contributions have been invaluable.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Stephen Metcalfe MP: Fuel Duty cancelled for South Basildon and East Thurrock as new car registrations soar

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has said he is delighted at the news that the cancellation of Labour’s fuel duty rise has today been put into law.

This follows George Osborne’s announcement last week that the Government would cancel the rise that was planned for January 2013. This keeps fuel 10p cheaper than it would have been under Labour and saves the typical motorist £40.

New car registrations released the day after the Autumn Statement showed that there are 11 per cent more motorists who will benefit from this cancellation compared to November last year. 

Mr Metcalfe commented: “People who live and work in South Basildon and East Thurrock will be thrilled that the Chancellor has cancelled Labour’s rise in fuel duty.”

“I am delighted that 5.6 million motorists in the South East will benefit will benefit from this cancellation. With more and more people buying cars in the UK it could not have been better timed.”

“Coupled with the income tax cut, this is a fantastic boost for households working hard to make ends meet”.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Stephen Metcalfe MP keeps a close eye on proposed Marine Conservation Zones

Stephen Metcalfe on a recent trip along the
 Thames as guest of the Port of London Authority
Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has said he is keeping a close eye on the Science and Technology Committee’s investigation into Marine Science and proposals to establish Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) on the Thames.

The committee, of which Mr Metcalfe is an active member, exist to ensure that Government policy and decision making are based on good scientific evidence. The committee therefore have a broad remit and can examine the activities of departments where they have implications for, or made use of, science, engineering, technology and research.

The latest evidence sessions are on marine science and will explore the views of a variety of groups and individuals on the evidence base used for the selection of proposed MCZs. Were the Thames to be designated an MCZ there may be significant implications for developments and activity in the Thames Gateway area.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Whilst issues such as marine science may seem far removed from the lives of people in my constituency, the implications of MCZs could be substantial especially if one were to be established along the Thames.”

“I have met with a member of the Port of London Authority to discuss the issue and will be keeping a very close eye on this investigation and the potential impact it may have on my constituents.”

The committee are currently awaiting a final list of proposed MCZs from the Government and will continue to take evidence in the meantime.

Stephen Metcalfe MP shares in the success of Woodlands School at awards evening

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, offered his heartfelt congratulations to pupils at Woodlands School at their annual awards evening last Thursday.

The evening was a chance for the school to celebrate in the many achievements of its pupils and to reward the hard work and effort of the award winners.

After presenting the awards Mr Metcalfe gave a speech in which he encouraged students to always strive for excellence and to take seriously their own responsibility in making the most of their education.

Commenting, Stephen said: “It really was a privilege to share in the successes of Woodlands. I have a lot of contact with the school and to see such positive results from their efforts is fantastic. The pupils there are brimming with potential and I wish each and every pupil all the best for the future.”

Prior to delivering the speech Mr Metcalfe presented awards to the top two students from each year group in each subject. The evening culminated in the Woodlands Achievement Award for Outstanding performance at GCSE, which this year was awarded to 10 pupils.

Mr Metcalfe added: “All award winners are a credit to their school. The awards were given in subjects ranging from languages, to music, sport to mathematics and I think this demonstrates the fantastic breadth and depth of talent at Woodlands. I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to all pupils and staff for their hard work, dedication and fantastic achievements this year.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP takes to the airwaves at Gateway FM

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, took to the airwaves on Friday at the award winning Gateway FM studio to give his final interview to the station of 2012.

Based in the heart of Basildon’s Eastgate, Gateway 97.8 FM brings the latest local news, music and community information to its listeners whilst also providing a forum through which hold local politicians to account.

As such, Mr Metcalfe was quizzed on a range of issues including the concerning state of the Basildon Academies, his campaign to secure the pension rights of ex Visteon employees and the current proposals to develop land on Dry Street.

Commenting, Mr Metcalfe said: “It is always a pleasure to come to the Gateway studio. It is a vital medium through which I can discuss a wide range of local concerns and comment on action that is being taken to address these concerns.”

“It is extremely important that I am held to account in this way and I would like to thank all those at Gateway FM for the fantastic service they provide to my constituents. I look forward to visiting the station in the New Year and in the meantime, wish them all the best in the run up to Christmas.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes £1bn schools boost in Autumn Statement

Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock , rose to floor of the House of Commons on Wednesday 5th December to welcome the Chancellor’s £1 billion boost for schools. This extra money will allow the creation and expansion of schools up and down the country.
Mr Metcalfe, who has proved to be a strong advocate for education in South Basildon and East Thurrock asked the Chancellor when this funding might become available for areas in particular need such as Basildon, saying he “would like to see the Lee Chapel Primary School expand rapidly.”
The Chancellor responded: “My hon. Friend makes a powerful case for Basildon, its schools and the particular school he mentioned. I will make sure that the Education Secretary hears the argument he makes. The money is available over the next two years.”
Stephen Metcalfe later commented: “There is nothing more important than the education of our children and I was delighted to see that George Osborne acknowledged this in the Autumn Statement by pledging a £1 billion pounds boost to schools.”
“I sincerely hope that the benefits of this money will be felt in my constituency and that schools such as Lee Chapel Primary School can utilise the funding to expand on the great service they already provide.”

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Ford must bear responsibility for Visteon pensioners

Stephen Metcalfe with members of the Visteon
Pensioners Action Group

“Ford has a moral responsibility for the Visteon pensioners”, that was the verdict of a group of MPs yesterday during a Westminster Hall Debate.

Members of Parliament from across the Country and from across the political spectrum convened in Westminster Hall to discuss the plight of Visteon pensioners and to encourage Ford Motor Company to exercise its duty of care to its former employees.

Visteon was the automotive parts division of Ford Motor Company that was spun off from Ford in 2000.  The UK arm (Visteon UK) subsequently went into administration in 2009 resulting in the loss of over 500 jobs and leaving many ex-employees with either reduced or frozen pension rights.

In support of the pensioners, earlier this year an APPG was established with a view to looking at the background of the collapse of Visteon, the effect it had on its pensioners and ex-employees and to look at whether Ford has a duty of care to its ex-employees.

Under the separation terms, Visteon employees were promised mirrored terms and conditions and ‘lifetime protection’ of their pensions. But, when the company went into administration in 2009 it emerged that many would have heavily reduced pension rights – sometimes up to a staggering 45%.

Despite being ‘spun off’, Visteon remained dependent on Ford for 90% of its business and the Visteon employees received no new contracts. With many suspecting it had been set up to fail.

Recently the new CEO of Visteon Corporation in the US, Tim Leuliette, when asked “Did Visteon have a chance when it was spun off?” answered simply “NO. The labour cost issues, the burden and the overheads were just so out of line with the reality that it was almost comical.  It just wasn't going to work. And it didn't work.  I think we all knew that.  It was sort of like when you've got an uncle you know has got a problem but no one in the family wants to talk about it.”

Visteon UK failed to make a profit in any year of its existence. By the time it ceased trading, its debts totalled nearly $1 billion, leading many to suggest that the spin off was merely Ford dumping a liability whilst ensuring its own balance sheet remained clean.

Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green, who secured the discussion, said: “Anyone who has gone through the documents that the Visteon pensioners have been able to secure will see that there is a clear audit trail showing that Ford knew exactly what it was doing. It gave guarantees that it is now seeking to renege on.”

Geraint Davies MP for Swansea West and Vice Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in support of the Visteon Pensioners, added, “Ford has a moral duty to make good the pensions of former Ford employees who were given assurances that their pensions would be protected. Instead their pensions had been underfunded and Ford has a duty to make good the shortfall.

“Ford needs to understand they cannot simply brush this matter under the carpet.

“It's important that the voices of British MPs are broadcast across US air waves so that Ford directors in the US understand their global brand reputation is being tarnished by their treatment of former Ford employees in Britain and must make good their duty of care by underwriting the pension shortfall they have responsibility for.”

South Basildon and East Thurrock MP, Stephen Metcalfe, Chairman of the APPG later commented: “This is about Ford doing the right thing. As I said in the debate, I have great respect for the company. It has a long and noble history in this country – but even the best businesses can make mistakes. Ford, in this instance has got it wrong and they must stand up and take responsibility for their actions. I will continue to fight until justice is served for the Visteon Pensioners.”

MPs are hoping that following the debate, a select committee investigation will take place. In the meantime, the APPG will continue its own enquiries into Ford’s failings in the hope that the Visteon Pensioners will one day get the pensions they are rightly entitled to.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Stephen Metcalfe MP meets new Area Manager from top armed forces welfare provider

Stephen Metcalfe with new Area Manager, Kate Williams
The Royal British Legion has thanked Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon & East Thurrock, for making the time to meet new Legion Area Manager, Kate Williams.

The Legion is the leading provider of welfare for the Armed Forces community in South Essex and this week local MP Stephen Metcalfe attended an event in Parliament dedicated to seeing some of the Legion’s work in his area. Stephen used the opportunity to discuss with Miss Williams the changing face of Armed Forces welfare provision in the local community, and learn more about the Legion’s work developing Community Covenants locally.

The Royal British Legion provides care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces, past and present, and their families. That care and support can come in many forms, whether it be direct financial aid; benefits and money advice; adventure holidays in the UK for Armed Forces families who need a break; or helping an elderly or disabled veteran with a trusted handyman facility to help with odd-jobs in the home. These are just some of the many, many services the Legion offers as way of support to the Armed Forces community.

In 2011, the Legion spent £90 million nationally on its health and welfare delivery work. In addition it has committed £50 million over ten years to support the Ministry of Defence’s programme of recovery for wounded, sick and injured Armed Forces personnel. £30 million of this is committed to the Battle Back Centre (Lilleshall) and £20 million will go towards five Personnel Recovery Centres, four in the UK and one in Germany.

Miss Williams, the Legion’s Area Manager, said, “It was great to see Stephen; we really appreciated him making the time to drop in. Many people don’t realise that we spend nearly £1.7 million a week on helping both the Serving and ex-Service communities, plus their families, so we were delighted to tell Stephen about the range of services we provide. We help everyone from a child of a serving family needing an adventure break to a young entrepreneur needing advice and assistance to be his own boss.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP said, “I was really pleased to meet my new local Area Manager. Kate made it clear that the Legion’s work does not stop on 11th November. Providing assistance for members and former members of the Armed Forces who have been injured, or are struggling in any other way, is a 365-day-a-year job. It is vital that we as a nation honour the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces, and I’m proud to support the work of The Royal British Legion.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP: New figures show immigration measures are working

Stephen Metcalfe, Conservative MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed figures showing that net migration has fallen by almost a quarter. This is new evidence that the government’s hard-hitting measures to reduce immigration are working.
 
The figures also show that inward migration to the UK fell to its lowest level since 2004. Despite this, Labour continue to oppose every step we have taken to bring immigration under control.
 
Commenting, Stephen Metcalfe said: “People across South Basildon and East Thurrock will be pleased to see that Conservatives in Government are getting immigration under control.”
 
“Under Labour immigration was unchecked – with net migration totalling 2.2 million people. We have taken tough steps to reduce the uncontrolled immigration that Labour presided over.  This reduction in numbers shows that our measures are working.”
 
“It beggars belief that Labour still oppose every single one of these steps, including our cap on immigration.”

Monday, 3 December 2012

Stephen Metcalfe MP sings praises of Le Danse Fantastique at Salvation Army celebration service

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, accepted the invitation from the all ability dance group ‘Le Danse Fatastique’ (LDF) to join them in a special celebration service hosted by the Salvation Army last weekend.

LDF is a long standing performing arts school who welcome students of all abilities with a passion for dance.

Having taken part in a wide range of high profile performances, from auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent to representing Basildon and Essex in an Olympic performance, LDF took the opportunity of the celebration service to sing two festive songs before previewing a piece from their new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Stephen Metcalfe commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed the celebratory service and was extremely grateful for the opportunity to see the talents and enthusiasm of all those who took part in Le Danse Fantastique’s wonderful performance.”

“It is extremely encouraging to see an activity in which all abilities can partake in and the performance was something that all the students should be extremely proud of.”

Stephen added: “I would like to thank the Salvation Army for hosting this service and LDF for the kind invitation; no doubt it won’t be the last time I see them perform.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP gets some good news from the Regional Director of Lloyds TSB

Last week, Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, met with Steve Arnold, the Regional Director of Lloyds TSB at the Stanford-le-Hope Branch, to discuss measures that the bank is taking to promote growth and increase lending to both individuals and businesses.

Mr Metcalfe, who has proved to be a strong advocate for businesses, commented:  “I make a concerted effort to meet with people such as Steve Arnold to make sure that I am aware of current banking issues and how these issues might affect my constituents and businesses within my constituency.”

Mr Arnold had encouraging news from Lloyds. Not only is the bank lending more than ever to businesses, but it has initiated a number of new projects to help people onto the property ladder and to manage their finances.

Mr Metcalfe added: “I was delighted to hear the good news from Mr Arnold. Lloyds TSB are beginning to see positive signs of business growth and are expanding their range of services to help people manage in these difficult economic times.”

“As we emerge out of a recession it is extremely encouraging to hear news that offers hope for individuals, businesses and the country as a whole.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP supports the Basildon Disability Equality Forum

Stephen Metcalfe MP signing the Pledge
 with Forum Chairman, Mark Dale
Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, spent last Friday afternoon with the Basildon Disability Equality Forum in celebration of the International Day of Disabled People.

The Forum, who seek to fight against stigma of mental and physical disability, treated Mr Metcalfe to a blindfolded three course meal to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by blind people.

Commenting, Stephen Metcalfe said: “It was quite an experience attending the forum meeting. Whilst it was only for a short period of time, being blindfolded helped me to gain a deeper appreciation of the problems faced by those who have lost their sight and I have the upmost respect and admiration for people living without sight on a daily basis.”

After the meal local councillors, council staff and Mr Metcalfe were asked to pledge one thing that they would do over the next year to support the disabled community.

Mr Metcalfe added: “The whole event proved to be an extremely educational and insightful experience. I have pledged to continue to work with the Forum to promote positive views on disability and to stay in regular contact with them to keep up to date about issues affecting disabled people in my constituency”

“I would like to thank all involved in the meeting for their hard work and dedication in fighting the stigma against disability and I look forward to being involved with the organisation in the future.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes Government consultation to tackle binge drinking

Stephen Metcalfe, Conservative MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed this week’s launch of an alcohol consultation by the Government. 

As part of the wider reforms the Government has introduced to tackle binge drinking and the impact it has on our communities, hospitals, and town centres, the Government have announced a consultation on a range of measures to reduce alcohol consumption, cut crime and save lives.

The ten week consultation will seek views on:
·         a ban on multi-buy promotions
·         a review of the mandatory licensing conditions
·         a minimum unit price of 45p
·         a new health-related objective for alcohol licensing, and
·         cutting red tape for responsible businesses.

Commenting Mr Metcalfe said: ‘I am sure many of us like an occasional or social drink and drink responsibly, but for too long the problems associated with alcohol abuse have been ignored. Alcohol misuse and irresponsible drinking is estimated to cost £21 billion annually.’

‘This consultation is aimed at finding the right balance between tackling alcohol abuse while not penalising responsible drinkers.’

‘Speaking to many people across South Basildon and East Thurrock, the issue of anti social behaviour is frequently raised as a serious concern.  In many instances this behaviour is fuelled by drink, and I welcome the Government’s consultation as it seeks to address the root cause of this problem.’


Stephen Metcalfe MP helps to tackle food poverty this Christmas

 Stephen with Store Manage Anthony Jones and staff at Tesco’s
Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, gave his time this weekend to the nationwide food-drive run by Tesco’s and FareShare to help tackle hunger across the UK.

The Tesco’s at Langdon Hills is one of thousands of stores up and down the country who are joining forces with local communities to support people facing food poverty this Christmas. On entering the store, shoppers are given a special shopping lists to encourage them to buy everyday food items like cereals, rice, instant coffee, tinned food and sauces which can then be redistributed to those in need.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I’m really pleased to have supported the ‘Million Meal Appeal’ with Tesco’s and FareShare. Each year, FareShare redistributes food to over 700 local grassroots projects in the UK. Last year alone they provided food for 8.6 million meals and helped feed 36,500 people a day.”

“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Tesco’s, to FareShare and to all local residents at Langdon Hills who have been so generous with their time and money so that the invaluable work of FareShare can continue. It demonstrates how by coming together, we really can make a difference to those in need.”

Research has found that in total, around 10 per cent of people have suffered from some form of food poverty in the last 12 months, with seven per cent of people skipping meals and eight per cent relying on friends or family to provide food. This is a problem that only worsens over the cold Christmas season.

Philip Clarke, Chief Executive of Tesco said: “Tesco feeds more families in the UK than any other supermarket, and we work hard to make sure people can eat well even if they don’t have a lot of money.  This Christmas, we want to use our scale and our links with communities across the country to help tackle this growing problem.”

“We recently held some local food collections and were overwhelmed by the support from our customers, who have shown incredible generosity.  I hope they’ll support the biggest ever food collection in the UK and help us to feed hundreds of thousands of people in need.”

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Stephen Metcalfe MP supports new Studio School in Basildon

Stephen Metcalfe MP with Katy Quinn, Vice Principal
of Employment & Skills at Seevic College
In continuation of his mission to drive up educational standards in South Basildon and East Thurrock, Stephen Metcalfe MP has lent his support to the new Studio School due to open in Basildon in September 2013.

Sponsored by Seevic College, and supported by Anglia Ruskin University, the Studio School at New College Basildon will deliver unique and employer focused high quality education to young people of the local area.

Following his visit to the Studio School Open Day on Saturday, Stephen Metcalfe MP, who has made education in South Basildon and East Thurrock a top priority, commented: “I am extremely excited about the Studio School at New College Basildon. Not only does it add depth and breadth to the educational landscape in my constituency but it provides new opportunities that will help to maximise the potential of each individual student.”

In September the school will welcome students aged between 14 and 19, offering a range of mainstream qualifications for up to 340 pupils of all abilities through practical projects which will see students working closely with local employers from an early age.

Whilst at the Studio School, pre-16 students will study for their key GCSEs in English, Maths, Science and ICT. Alongside these core GCSEs, students will choose either the English Baccalaureate or choose a specialist vocational qualification in Health & Social Care, or Sport. Post-16 options will include a range of A Levels, as well as vocational qualifications in Health & Social Care, or Sport, allowing students to specialise and prepare for employment in these fields.

Local employers will be involved in all aspects of the curriculum, and will help to identify skills gaps in the workplace. Students will also spend a significant amount of time outside of the classroom in paid and unpaid work placements linked directly to employment opportunities in the local area.

Mr Metcalfe added: “I very much look forward to seeing the future results of the Studio School. It is a fantastic opportunity for students to gain vital qualifications whilst simultaneously building relationships with employers to gain the skills needed for the workplace. It is just what is needed in the current economic climate and I will do all I can to support both staff and pupils.”
  

Stephen Metcalfe MP helps to fight food poverty in Basildon

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has recently given his time to the nationwide food-drive run by Sainsbury’s and FareShare to help tackle hunger across the UK.

Last year’s ‘Million Meal Appeal’, which took place on Saturday 26th November, was a huge success and involved 600 Sainsbury’s stores. Thanks to customers’ generosity, together with Sainsbury’s pledge to match donations, FareShare could deliver food for over 1.2 million meals to 700 charities and community projects it supports.

This year’s appeal saw over 900 stores involved in the two-day food-drive to help 720 charities and community projects which FareShare supports. Customers were able to choose to donate an item from the Million Meal Appeal shopping list which consists of long-life products including tinned goods, dried pasta, pasta sauce, rice, tea and instant coffee.

Stephen Metcalfe said: “I’m really proud to have supported the second-ever ‘Million Meal Appeal’ with Sainsbury’s and FareShare. The appeal at the Nevendon store was a great success. It highlighted the generosity of Basildon residents and how by working together, we can tackle food poverty in this country.”

“I would like to thank Sainsbury’s, FareShare and all the volunteers for their hard work and also all local residents who helped to make this appeal such a success.”