Monday, 23 December 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes 18% fall in local unemployment

Stephen Metcalfe MP has today welcomed new statistics showing a fall in the number of unemployed claimants in South Basildon and East Thurrock.

The total number of claimants now stands at 2,023. This is 440 (18%) lower than in November 2012 and 110 lower than in October 2013.

Unemployment is also falling up and down the country with levels at their lowest since 2009 according to official figures.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I am extremely pleased to see unemployment falling yet again in South Basildon and East Thurrock. We clearly have much more to do but this is another step in the right direction.” 

“As the Government continue to stick to their long term plan I hope to see these figures fall even  further.”

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP champions chess in schools

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, is championing the value of playing chess in schools after recently visiting the UK’s largest chess festival organised by Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC).

CSC already teaches chess to pupils at East Tilbury Primary School and the local MP is hoping that more schools will follow suit.

The formation of CSC was inspired by research demonstrating the links between the teaching of chess in schools and their pupil’s academic performance. International chess player Martin Malcolm Pein made his vision a reality in 2010, teaching chess to schools and inner city communities to improve children’s educational outcomes and foster their social development.

In three years CSC have introduced chess to over 250 schools in over 50 boroughs across England and Wales and taught the game to over 30,000 children.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Chess is universally inclusive, crossing all barriers of class, gender, age, disability, and language. It also has a host of benefits for children and young people, encouraging them to plan ahead, strategise, and prioritise. The self esteem that can gained from learning to play is invaluable, as is the opportunity to learn good sportsmanship.”

“The educational advantages of having chess in schools are well established and I hope that more schools in South Basildon and East Thurrock will get plugged in with the great work of CSC.” 

For further information on the work of CSC and to find out how your school can be involved please visit: www.chessinschools.co.uk



Stephen Metcalfe MP presses Government on Bail House relocation

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, rose on the floor of the House of Commons today to ask the Ministry of Justice to confirm that they will relocate the Felmores Approved Premises if an alternative location is found.

The location of the Bail House has long been a source of contention with local residents objecting to sex offenders being housed in a residential area within the vicinity of a local park and two primary schools.

Mr Metcalfe was praised by the Minister, Jeremy Wright MP, for his submissions to the department on the matter and for his close engagement with the issue on behalf of his constituents.

The local MP has consistently and staunchly supported local residents who wish to see the establishment moved and the Minister confirmed that the Department would co-operate if an alternative venue can be found.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I want to reassure my constituents that this issue has not been brushed under the carpet. If an alternative location is found I will push that the Justice Department make good on their promise to support the relocation of Bail House.” 

“I will continue to work with relevant organisations on this matter and hope that we can soon reach an agreement that suits all involved and where residents can feel safe and secure in their community.”

Monday, 16 December 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP opens new ward at Basildon Hospital



Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, and John Baron, MP for Basildon and Billericay, recently joined staff and supporters at Basildon Hospital to officially open the new 28 bed Burstead Ward.

Chief Nurse for Basildon and Brentwood Clinical, Lisa Allen, also took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony to the open the ward which forms part of the Hospital’s plan to increase the number of beds to meet the demand for emergency inpatient care this winter.

The guests were welcomed by Chief Executive of the Trust, Clare Panniker, who thanked all those involved in the speedy completion of the project. She said:  “It has been a great team effort. The additional 28 beds and the investment we have made in more staff will help to ensure our patients receive excellent and safe care, particularly during the busy winter period.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP said: “It is a credit to everyone involved that this project came together in four months, and I thank them on behalf of the people of South Basildon and East Thurrock.  We know the Trust has had its challenges, but I think it is turning a corner and I have high expectations for the future of this hospital.”
  
The Burstead Ward, which follows a tradition of naming wards after local places, is equipped with the latest equipment, all meeting the latest high clinical standards. Ward staff and patients will benefit from new portable computers, a touch screen interactive e-board, and ‘comfort cooling’ which keeps the ward warm in winter and cool in summer. 

A new treatment room where patients who have had colorectal surgery  can receive care from stoma nurses in privacy has also been welcomed by staff and patients alike. 

Mr Metcalfe was given a tour of the new ward and the opportunity to talk to patients about the care they were receiving. He added: “It was great to meet patients and hear such positive feedback about the hospital. Whilst there have been many negative reports recently, it is clear that the hospital is on the up and we must be proud of the positive changes that have been made.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP maintains opposition to Option C as Option B is discarded

Stephen collecting signatures for a petition against
Option C

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has maintained his opposition to Option C in the Lower Thames Crossing consultation after the Department for Transport discard Option B.

It was announced recently that Option B, which would connect the A2 Swanscombe Peninsula with the A1089, would be discarded due to limited support for the plan in the feedback on the consultation and the belief that it would frustrate plans for development in the area.

The remaining options are:
·         Option A at the site of the existing A282 Dartford-Thurrock crossing;
·         Option C connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30;
·         A variant to Option C that would additionally widen the A229 between the M2 and M20.

Mr Metcalfe, listening to the views of his constituents in South Basildon and East Thurrock, has vehemently opposed Option C since its inception due to the significant local impact it would have.

He commented: “I am of course disappointed that Option C was not discarded in response to the consultation. I do not believe that either Option C, or A, are the right ones for the local area or for the country and I will continue to make the case that a wider range of alternatives are needed.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We had over 5,700 responses to the consultation and we have carefully considered each of them. Ruling out the least attractive option now gives some clarity for local residents and businesses.”

“We are committed to making a decision on the location of the new crossing as soon as possible, but we recognise that whatever crossing location is chosen it will have significant impact for people in the area and the economy. These are tough decisions to be made and must not be taken lightly.”

The government is carrying out further work in the light of the consultation feedback to understand the possible impacts on the local areas of the remaining options. This work will also consider improvements to the surrounding routes and look at how impact on the environment may be mitigated.

The Department for Transport have stated that a further announcement regarding the consideration of Options A and C (including Cvariant) will be made as soon as possible.

Mr Metcalfe added: “I hope that the next announcement will come soon and that it will have taken into account the strength of feeling against these proposals.” 

In the meantime, the government remains committed to introducing ‘free flow’ charging at the Dartford-Thurrock crossing from October 2014 to alleviate congestion in the short term. The system will remove the existing toll booths and allow users to pay remotely, similar to the London congestion charge.

Stephen Metcalfe MP sings praises of Basildon Towngate Theatre’s Rapunzel

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has heaped praise on Basildon Towngate Theatre after going to see their annual gala panto last Friday.

Following a popular audience vote the cast re-tell the much loved story of Rapunzel, trapped in a tower awaiting rescue by her Prince charming. Offering the audience an array of magical characters, popular songs, and a wonderful Christmas treat for people of all ages, it is a performance not to be missed.

The local MP commented: “The Towngate Theatre have a well deserved reputation for producing fantastic Christmas panto’s and Rapunzel does not disappoint! The cast are fantastic and you can’t help but leave with a smile on your face.”

“My congratulations go to all involved but particularly to Simon Fielding who is both the lead actor and director of a talented cast of performers.”

Basildon pantomime has grown into one of the most popular in the county, seeing over 25,000 people visit the theatre last Christmas. This year’s offering runs from 4th December to 5th January and is set to be a box office hit with some performances already sold out.

Mr Metcalfe added: “I would recommend this show to all of my constituents and I hope that as many people in South Basildon and East Thurrock as possible will get behind this fantastic local production.” 

To avoid disappointment, make sure you book your tickets at www.towngatetheatre.co.uk or by calling 01268 465465.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP leads charge in support of Visteon Pensioners in Parliamentary Debate

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, led colleagues from across the House today in a call to Ford Motor Company asking them honour their moral responsibilities to their former employees who suffered significant pension losses when Visteon UK was spun off from Ford.

The Pensioners’ nightmare began when in 2000 when the global automotive component operation of Ford Motor Company, Visteon UK, was spun off from Ford to reduce supply chain costs. Under the separation terms, Visteon employees were promised mirrored terms and conditions and ‘lifetime protection’ of their pensions.

Visteon employees were therefore outraged and dismayed when the company went into administration in 2009 leaving 3000 employees and ex employees with heavily reduced pension rights – sometimes up to a staggering 50%. Despite ongoing links with Visteon UK, and despite the fact that pensioners were encouraged to transfer to a fund that was underfunded by some £350 million,  Ford has refused to take responsibility, claiming that Visteon was its own company, responsible for its own decisions.

Comments made by Chief Executive of the Visteon Corporation Tim Leuliette in which he stated that Visteon did not stand a chance of surviving after being spun off have only fuelled the anger of disenfranchised ex-employees. This David and Goliath battle is now the subject of legal action UK and will be tested in court at some point in 2014.

The debate, timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the Visteon debate held in Westminster Hall last year, saw a host of MP’s from across the House and across the country rally around the pensioners, urging Ford to accept their ethical responsibilities.

Mr Metcalfe, who chairs the APPG in support of Visteon Pensioners, opened the debate, calling on Ford to make good on their promises to the Pensioners, and to restore their now tarnished reputation.

He commented: “This is about getting justice for thousands of Visteon workers up and down the country who transferred their pensions into a pension scheme which ultimately collapsed. Many of the pensioners, including Dennis Varney from Basildon, worked for Ford and Visteon for over 30 years, dedicating their working lives to a company they trusted.”

“This is a moral issue, and I sincerely hope that Ford HQ in the US was listening, that they will face up to their ethical responsibilities, and that they will exercise a duty of care to their dedicated former workforce.” 

The Minister, Steve Webb assured the House that he had been in conversation with Ford, and that a meeting is scheduled to take place. MPs from across the House greeted this step forward. Mr Metcalfe concluded that this issue will not be brushed under the carpet, and that he and colleagues will continue to fight for justice on behalf of their constituents. 




Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP announces constituency winner of national school manufacturing competition

Stephen Metcalfe MP is proud to announce Samuel Partridge from Gable Hall School as the winning pupil from South Basildon and East Thurrock in the local round of a national school manufacturing competition.

The We Made It! competition invited 11 – 14 year olds throughout the UK to let their imagination run wild and design a brand new product or gadget.

The competition aims to give children the opportunity to see that manufacturing is about design and creativity as well as hands-on making of the products. From fashion and video game consoles to cars and airplanes, there are many varied industries with manufacturing at their heart and in which exciting career opportunities exist.

Samuel’s entry is one of 23 shortlisted ideas selected from over 520 entries. The 23 shortlisted are selected by local Members of Parliament. All 23 winners and Members of Parliament are invited to an exclusive awards reception in the Houses of Parliament in March next year.

The 23 winning entries went through to the next stage of the competition, the formal judging day, where a panel of manufacturing experts whittled down the shortlist to 7 national finalists, all of which get the chance to bring their designs to life by working with some of the UK’s Fab Lab’s, (digital fabrication laboratories) based all across the UK.

The local MP praised Samuel’s idea for a set of headphones that can convert into portable speakers. He said: “It was extremely difficult to pick a winner as there were some fantastic entries. I chose Samuel for the quality of his design and because he bettered a pre-existing product.”

“Whilst Samuel did not make the national final, he should be extremely proud of his achievement.  I would like to congratulate all those in South Basildon and East Thurrock who took part and I hope that the competition might have given young people an insight into the diverse and exciting range of careers available in the technology and engineering industries.” 

The national winner’s prototypes will be revealed for the first time at the awards ceremony in March. For further information about the competition please see: www.wemadeituk.co.uk.


Monday, 9 December 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP hits the High Street in support of Small Business Saturday


Stephen Metcalfe MP supported Small Business Saturday last weekend by shopping locally and meeting local businessmen and women in South Basildon and East Thurrock.

Consumers took to the high street in Basildon and Thurrock and up and down the country as hundreds of businesses took part in the campaign, many offering flash sales and one off promotions to reinforce the benefits of shopping locally. Small Business Saturday aims to encourage everyone in the UK to support their local small businesses and high streets on Saturday 7th December and beyond.

The local MP expressed his support by visiting a variety of local businesses including Prime Cut Butchers in Stanford-Le-Hope, Cranberries Gift Shop and Sprogs Company in Corringham Shopping Centre, and Hooper Properties in Pitsea.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Small Business Saturday is a fantastic initiative that has renewed people’s interest in local shops. As I have seen for myself, there are some great local businesses in South Basildon and East Thurrock and I hope that they will feel the long lasting impact of Small Business Saturday.”

“Thank you to all those who took to the streets to support businesses in Basildon and Thurrock and I would encourage my constituents to continue to support them throughout the Christmas period and into 2014!”

Small Business Saturday came after a plethora of measures were announced by Government to support business in the UK:

£1,000 off business rate bills for all retail premises with a rateable value up to £50,000 for 2014/15 and 2015/16. This includes shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.
A 2% cap on everyone’s business rate increases.

A new reoccupation relief, which will halve the rates bills of businesses taking over premises empty for over a year.

The doubling of Small Business Rate Relief is being extended to April 2015 and expanded. 

Mr Metcalfe added: “This Government is clearly on the side of small businesses and I look forward to seeing them grow and flourish in South Basildon and East Thurrock under these new measures.”

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes strong Autumn Statement

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed the strong and sensible Autumn Statement delivered today by the Chancellor, George Osborne.

In his annual statement to the House of Commons the Chancellor outlined the Government’s long term economic strategy for the coming years and reflected on progress that has already been made.

The local MP rose to the floor of the chamber to congratulate the Chancellor on his steadfast committed to keep Britain moving, stressing the Government’s moral responsibility to ensure that future generations are not burdened with the debt created by the previous Labour Government.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “The Autumn statement contained fantastic news for people in South Basildon and East Thurrock – the jobs tax on all young people under 21 abolished, real help for the high street, energy bills down, fuel duty frozen, and rail fare increases frozen.”

For every South Basildon and East Thurrock motorist, petrol will now be 20p less than it would have been under the previous Government’s plans, saving us £11 every time we fill up our cars and £680 every year.

“This is all welcome but we must not get complacent. As the Chancellor said the job is not done and we must keep the momentum going to keep Britain moving.”

The local MP, who has long been a champion of business in the local area, particularly welcomed the package of help for the high street and support for businesses. 44,000 business properties in Essex will benefit from:

  • £1,000 off business rate bills for all retail premises with a rateable value up to £50,000 for 2014/15 and 2015/16. This includes shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.
  • A 2% cap on everyone’s business rate increases.
  • A new reoccupation relief, which will halve the rates bills of businesses taking over premises empty for over a year.
  • The doubling of Small Business Rate Relief is being extended to April 2015 and expanded. 

Mr Metcalfe added: "I wanted the Government to listen to calls from local businesses and they have.” 

“High street businesses are an important part of local life. We are backing local businesses all the way. With Small Business Saturday this weekend Conservatives are giving businesses in South Basildon and East Thurrock the help they need to grow and create jobs.” 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP: We are one step closer to letting Britain decide

 Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has said that we are one small step closer to an EU referendum after the European Union (Referendum) Bill passed its final stage in the House Commons last week.

The Bill, which will now move to the House of Lords, would guarantee an in-out referendum in 2017 after the Government have tried to re-negotiate a fresh settlement with the EU that better serves Britain’s interests.

Labour abstained from voting in the Bill with Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander MP, stating that Labour do not think “committing now to an in/out referendum up to four years from now is in the national interest because the priority must be getting growth into the economy.”

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Unlike Labour, we are committed to letting the British people determine our future in Europe. This is a decision that affects us all and it is therefore vital that we all have a say.”

“I was delighted to see the Bill pass through the House of Commons and I am also pleased with progress that is already being made by this Government in Europe.”

Among other measures, the Government have already secured the first ever real terms cut in the EU’s long-term budget; ended UK participation in EU bailout mechanisms;  vetoed a new EU fiscal treaty; and introduced a ‘referendum lock’. The Lock means that no powers can pass from Britain to Brussels without the consent of the British people in a referendum. 

The local MP added: “I have every confidence that this Conservative Government will continue to champion British interests in Europe and I look forward to seeing this Bill enshrined into the law in the near future.”

Monday, 2 December 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP: Metal theft clampdown is working

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has today welcomed new figures which reveal that the Government’s efforts to reduce metal theft are showing early signs of success.

Metal theft fell every quarter over the last year – and by 40 per cent overall in 2012–13. This coincides with tough new measures introduced by the Government to clamp down on the offence which causes distress and disruption to the public.

Last December the Government tightened the net around rogue sellers by:

  • Banning all scrap metal dealers from trading in cash.
  • Ending the practice of ‘no questions asked’ cash payments.
  • Giving the police powers of entry to tackle illegal trading in metal yards.

On top of this, the Government established a National Metal Theft Taskforce to focus enforcement activity, and backed a new law introduced by Conservatives in Parliament which will:

  • Require scrap metal dealers to be licensed.
  • Allow councils to refuse or revoke licences if a dealer is deemed unsuitable.
  • Give magistrates the power to issue rogue traders with fines of up to £5,000.
These powers under the Scrap Metal Act 2013 came into full effect on Sunday (1 December).

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Metal theft has a huge impact and costs the economy around £220 million a year.  This crime affects everyone – from the stealing of cables that delay your rail journey home to the shocking theft of war memorials.”

“That is why the Government has tightened the net around rogue sellers and funded a new taskforce to crack down on metal theft.  And from this weekend it will be illegal for people to trade in scrap metal without a licence.”

“We are on the side of people who play by the rules and are sending a strong message to rogue dealers – you will be caught.”


Stephen Metcalfe MP joins Foodbank collection at local Tesco


Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined volunteers at the local Tesco store in Pitsea last weekend to help collect much needed supplies for Basildon Foodbank.

The MP and local volunteers encouraged shoppers to donate non-perishable food items such as long life milk, cereals, and tinned fruit and veg to help local people facing times of crisis. The collected food will then be distributed by Basildon Foodbank to those most in need.

Collections took place in Tesco stores nationwide from 29th November to 1st December and Tesco have pledged to ‘top-up’ food donations by 30%, making the public’s generosity go even further. Tesco has also pledged to provide longer term support to Trussell Trust Foodbanks and Fareshare.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I was pleased to be a part of the collection team and play a small part in Basildon Foodbanks’ drive for donations in the run up to Christmas. They provide an invaluable service to those in need in the local area and are vital in the fight against food poverty.”

In 2012-2013 Foodbanks nationwide helped 346,992 people, 218,295 more than in 2011-12.  This increase is believed to be in part due to high global food prices;  referrals from Jobcentres; a rise in the number of distribution centres; and new powers given to Local Authorities to allocate funding in direct support of food voucher schemes and Foodbanks.

The local MP added: “I would like to thank the people of South Basildon and East Thurrock for their generous donations of food and my sincere gratitude goes to all the volunteers who work tirelessly at the Foodbank to collect, sort, and distribute food to those that need it.” 

Basildon Foodbank is always in need of volunteers and food donations. If you would like to get involved or want to find out more about the services they provide, please visit:  http://basildon.foodbank.org.uk/


Stephen Metcalfe MP joins STOPAIDS campaign

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined UK activists at a STOPAIDS parliamentary event to mark the 25th World AIDS Day on 1st December.

As well as encouraging the public to ‘Fact Up’ about HIV and Aids, Mr Metcalfe was demonstrating his support for the UK’s pledge of £1bn to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, ahead of the Global Fund replenishment conference in Washington D.C. next week.

The event coincided with the launch of the Department for International Development (DFID) review of its 2011 position paper Towards Zero Infections. Mr Metcalfe spoke with activists about how far we have come in tackling the AIDS epidemic, with 9.7 million people now accessing treatment, and AIDS-related deaths declining from a peak of 2.2 million in the mid-2000s to 1.6 million in 2012.

The local MP also heard how far we have to go, with 16 million people still not accessing anti-retroviral treatment and 1.6 million people dying of AIDS-related illnesses in 2012. Mr Metcalfe joined STOPAIDS in calling upon world leaders to follow the UK’S example and fully commit to the Global Fund.

He said “I fully support the UK’s pledge of £1bn to the Global Fund and encourage other world leaders to join us in committing to bring this disease under control. I urge our government to remain focused on overcoming the challenge AIDS continues to pose to our international community.”

This Sunday 1st December marks the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day, a day when activists and people living with HIV from around the world come together in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. 

In light of World AIDS Day the local MP has called for the people of South Basildon and East Thurrock to ‘Fact UP’ and become more educated about the condition. The five facts are:

  1. If diagnosed and treated in time. People living with HIV live a normal lifespan.
  2. There is no job, which someone can’t do specifically because they have HIV
  3. Treatment can mean that people living with HIV are no longer infectious.
  4. Men and Women living with HIV can become parents of a HIV-free baby.
  5. People living with HIV still face stigma and discrimination.

Stephen added: “For people living with HIV in the UK one of the biggest challenges is still stigma, which is often the result of ignorance about HIV and unnecessary fear. Stigma also stops some people from taking an HIV test.”
"This World AIDS Day I am joining forces with the National AIDS Trust's campaign to encourage more people in South Basildon and East Thurrock to better understand the condition.”
For further information, please visit: http://www.worldaidsday.org/


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP encourages constituents to be ‘ElectricSafe’


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, recently attended a parliamentary drop-in session to show support for improving electrical safety in the home by raising awareness of the importance and benefits of using a competent, registered electrician to householders via ElectricSafe.

The importance of ensuring home electrics are safe should not be underestimated.  Around 3,340 people were admitted to hospital following an electric shock in the UK during 2010/11 and in 2011/12 there were 3,822 domestic electrical fires in Great Britain, resulting in 14 deaths. 

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Electrical safety in the home is an important and life threatening issue as shown by the above statistics. It’s important that the general public are aware of the simple steps they can take to reduce potential electrical risks in their home. The most important of these, and a precaution we can all take, is to hire a competent, registered electrician when requiring electrical work to be done in the home.”

“I fully support the efforts of organisations like ElectricSafe that exist to raise awareness and make it easy for the general public to find a competent, registered electrician in their local area. I would strongly encourage the people of South Basildon and East Thurrock to make use of their services.”

ElectricSafe is a single, recognisable, consumer facing register of competent, electricians from across England and Wales. All ElectricSafe electricians are regularly assessed to demonstrate their ongoing competence; they are required to meet strict qualification requirements, work to a high standard and operate a fair and efficient process for dealing with complaints.

The ElectricSafe register is free to join for all full scope electricians who are registered on a DCLG authorised electrical Competent Persons Scheme. It is designed to make finding, identifying and checking competent electricians locally easier than ever before. It strives to eliminate unnecessary jargon and complexity, bringing a simple message of electrical safety in the home to every household in England and Wales. 

For more information, visit www.electricsaferegister.co.uk

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP leads the Tree of Life Service at St Luke’s Hospice


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined the founder and patron of St Luke’s Hospice, Trudy Westmoore-Cox, in leading St Luke’s annual Tree of Life Service.

The service, now in its 17th year, forms part of Help the Hospice’s ‘Light Up A Life’ campaign which aims to provide members of the public with an opportunity to dedicate a light in memory of a loved one.

Mayor Mo Larkin conducted the countdown to the switch-on of the Tree of Life which was followed by carols from local school choirs. The Thurrock Spectrum Brass Band provided the prelude to the event.

For many hospices, including St Luke’s, the Light Up A Life service is one the best loved and most meaningful events in the calendar.

The local MP commented: “I was delighted to play a small role in this extremely moving and beautiful service. It provided a moment of reflection amidst Christmas preparations for people to remember those who are no longer with us. It also provided an opportunity to reflect on the fantastic work of St Luke’s which in itself has become a light in the community.”

“I would like to thank all those who took part in the event, particularly the local schools choirs who sang beautifully.”

St. Luke's Shops will display new dedication lists on the 15th November, 29th November, 13th December and 23rd December. Each list is subsequently updated. All dedications should be received no later than Friday 13th December to ensure the final list on December 23rd is correct. 

To make your dedication simply go to the Tribute and Legacy page under the Light Up A Life heading on St Luke’s website where you will be able to make a donation ensure that your loved one(s) will be remembered on the Light Up A Life tribute lists when they are produced:  www.stlukeshospice.com  

Stephen Metcalfe MP backs campaign to get children learning about money

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has called for local schools to get their pupils talking and learning about money, as part of a charity’s new campaign to help improve the financial capability of young people.

Every primary and secondary school in South Basildon and East Thurrock has been sent free Get Money Smart posters and teaching materials by national charity PFEG (Personal Finance Education Group), which wants to get children talking about money in the classroom.

The charity’s Get Money Smart posters are designed to encourage classroom discussions about things children can do to learn more about money and personal finance.  Ideas for different ages include checking your change, estimating the cost of a weekly shop, comparing mobile phone tariffs and planning and budgeting for a trip.

Schools in South Basildon and East Thurrock are being encouraged to hold discussions with their pupils over 4 things the posters suggest they can do to learn about money – with the 5th being left up to each class to decide.  Ideas for the 5th activity can then be shared with other classes across the country on Twitter using the #5thingstodo hashtag.

Stephen Metcalfe MP has thrown his weight behind the effort as a way of helping young people in the local area to gain the vital skills and knowledge they will need to manage their personal finances throughout their lives.  The move follows news that financial education will be taught in secondary schools as part of the National Curriculum from September 2014.

Stephen Metcalfe MP said: “This is a great resource that will help young people in South Basildon and East Thurrock take responsibility for their finances and think sensibly about money. It will also feed nicely into the new curriculum changes. I would encourage the schools to make the most of this opportunity.” 


Tracey Bleakley, chief executive of pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group), said: “We are thrilled to have the support of Stephen Metcalfe MP for this free new scheme for primary and secondary schools in South Basildon and East Thurrock.  I hope all local schools will seize the opportunity to use their Get Money Smart posters to bring money to life in the classroom.  This is a crucial topic that every young person should learn.  Getting pupils talking about money and the financial decisions they will face in the future is a great way to start.”

Monday, 25 November 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP meets UK Space Camp Ambassadors


Last weekend Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, met with Basildon based, Space Camp Ambassadors to the UK, Ken and Jane Lewis from Gifted Tours, to discuss how the American Camp can be promoted in the local area.

Mr Metcalfe first encountered Space Camp on a Parliamentary visit to Alabama, where to his surprise he learned that the UK Ambassadors live in Basildon. The camp, based in Huntsville, also has links with local engineering firm Selex ES.

Founded in 1982 Space Camp promotes the study of STEM subjects through an exciting combination of hands-on activities and classroom instruction. Pupils from over 40 countries have participated in the camps which include a Space Academy and a Robotics Camp.

St Clere’s school in Thurrock have been sending young delegates for the last 12 years and Mr Metcalfe is keen to explore how this can be expanded further in South Basildon and East Thurrock.

He commented: “Space Camp is a fantastic facility that can’t fail in inspiring young people about the exciting possibilities of STEM subjects. I was delighted to learn that Ken and Jane lived in my constituency and I look forward to working with them to see how we can develop our involvement with the Camp in the future.”

“I have done a great deal of work promoting STEM subjects in local schools and this might present an exciting and innovative opportunity to inspire the much needed next generation of local engineers, mathematicians, and scientists.” 

For more information on Space Camp please see http://www.spacecamp.com/

Stephen Metcalfe MP supports fundraising efforts at Bulphan Church Christmas Bazaar


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock together with local Councillor Sue Little, entered the Christmas spirit once more this week at Bulphan Church’s Christmas Bazaar.

The annual Bazaar proved to be a great success with a good turnout. There was a lot on offer with refreshments to enjoy, tombola’s, cake stalls, crafts and card stalls with all proceeds providing vital funds for the church.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I was delighted to join the community at Bulphan Church Christmas Bazaar. There is a fantastic community spirit in the local area and it was encapsulated here. I hope everyone there enjoyed the festivities as much as I did!”

“I would like to thank all those who had a part to play in bringing Christmas to the Bulphan and I hope that invaluable funds were raised to support the ongoing activities of the church.”


Stephen Metcalfe MP calls on all drivers to have regular eye tests

On 20 November Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined RSA Insurance Group in Parliament to support their ‘Fit to Drive’ road safety and eye health drop-in event.

Along with road safety charity ‘Brake’ and the Optical Confederation, the event saw MPs from all political parties tested to see whether they meet the UK’s minimum eye health standards.

Research shows that poor vision results in nearly 3,000 casualties in the UK each year. In addition to injury and loss of life, road crashes are costly for individuals, their families and the wider economy. The total cost of crashes due to poor driver vision is estimated to be £33m a year.

RSA and the Optical Confederation have published a new report, Healthy Eyes, Safer Roads, which shows how regular eye testing can keep all road users safer and sets out recommendations for policymakers to ensure more tests take place. Drivers who fall below the minimum standards are 15 per cent more likely to crash their vehicle – although in many cases they are unaware of their poor or deteriorating eye health.

During the event Stephen Metcalfe MP found out more about how this issue affects South Basildon and East Thurrock and had his eyes tested by a qualified optometrist. Mr Metcalfe also signed the Fit to Drive pledge – committing to having their eyes checked every two years, wearing glasses or lenses to drive if they need them and encouraging others to do the same. 

The local MP said:  “Drivers should take their responsibilities for their own and other people’s safety extremely seriously. An important part of this is making sure their eyesight meets the standards required and they wear their glasses or lenses every time they drive if they need them.”

“Thousands of crashes happen every year because of poor vision, at great cost to those involved and to the economy as a whole. I’m glad to say that I’m fit to drive but it’s vital everyone gets their eyes tested regularly to make sure they are safe too.”

Adrian Brown, CEO of RSA UK & Western Europe, added: "Regular testing helps maintain good eyesight and that means fewer crashes and safer roads. It's good to see local MPs getting this message out to their constituents and our ‘Fit to Drive’ campaign report sets out ways policymakers can make sure more eye tests happen.”

“We also want existing EU rules on driver eyesight to be properly implemented in the UK. We're currently lagging behind many other countries and that means our roads aren't as safe as they could be."


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP: If it seems too good to be true, it is too good to be true!

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, is warning constituents of a new scam potentially dropping through letterboxes throughout the county.

Mr Metcalfe has himself received one of the letters which claims to be from a Chinese investment banker. The recipient is offered the chance to share in the unclaimed fortune of a deceased person who goes by the same surname.

The local MP is concerned that scams such as this, which are usually found online and in emails, are now making their way into people’s homes.

He commented: “I wanted to make my constituents aware of this new scam which uses personal information to prey on vulnerable people. Receiving this in the post is a lot more intrusive than the hundreds of email scams in circulation but it doesn’t make it more viable. I would advice my constituents to bin any such mail immediately and to ensure that they do not make contact with these predatory criminals.”

He added: “Remember the old adage - If it seems too good to be true, it is too good to be true!” 

Mr Metcalfe has informed the Post Office of the letters and they are now doing all they can to trace the perpetrators. 

Stephen Metcalfe MP: Start Up Loans figures show Government support for entrepreneurs is working


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed new figures that show the Government’s Start-Up Loans Scheme has helped 681 entrepreneurs in the South East set up their own business. Across the country 10,000 Start-Up Loans have now been awarded, worth a total of £50 million.


In South Basildon and Thurrock, over 30 loans have been approved to the combined value of £192,109

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Because of the financial crisis we inherited, people who want to set up a new business have often found it hard to get a loan. This has prevented people with ideas and aspiration from putting their business plans into action.”

“These recent figures show that Start-Up Loans are changing that - here in the South East £4,368,291 has been lent to 681 budding entrepreneurs. This will ensure that all their potential and ideas don’t go to waste.”

“New businesses are the lifeblood of a healthy economy, helping to create jobs and growth. That’s why we will keep supporting hardworking people who aspire to start their own businesses.” 


Stephen Metcalfe MP celebrates Parliament Week at Basildon Lower Academy


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined ‘gifted and talented’ students at Basildon Lower Academy this week for a question and answer session as part of the national Parliament Week Initiative.

The local MP was grilled by students on wide range of topics from his role as an MP to current policy issues.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “It was fantastic to visit the Lower Academy and hear the thoughts of the students. As well as explaining about my role as an MP I was asked difficult questions about the economy and the welfare system and was extremely impressed by their knowledge of, and engagement with, current affairs.”

The visit formed part of the Academy’s involvement with Parliament Week, a UK-wide programme of events and activities running from 15-21 November that inspire, engage, and connect people with Parliamentary democracy.

The local MP added: “Parliament week is a brilliant initiative that brings Parliament that bit closer to people up and down the country. I am delighted that Basildon Lower Academy got involved and I look to forward to seeing Parliament Week feature more prominently in South Basildon and East Thurrock next year.”  

For further information on Parliament Week and to find out about events near you please see: http://www.parliamentweek.org/

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP encourages constituents to nominate outstanding young volunteers

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, is encouraging constituents to nominate outstanding young volunteers for the annual vInspired National Awards.

Now in its 5th year, the Awards, in association with RBS Early Careers, are the biggest of their kind, celebrating the achievements and dedication of young volunteers and the youth workers who support them.

This year, to acknowledge the rise of young entrepreneurs and the vInspired has added a new award for the “Most Outstanding Social Entrepreneur”. The categories are:

·         Best Young Volunteer
·         All Round Commitment to Volunteering
·         Bringing Communities Together
·         Team Activity
·         Outstanding Contribution by a Youth Worker
·         Most Outstanding NCS Team
·         Most Outstanding Social Entrepreneur

Winners will be rewarded with a star-studded awards ceremony, held at the Indig02 in London on 27th March next year, with performances from some of the best music talent. Past celebrity attendees have included Tinchy Stryder and The Saturdays as well as youth icons such as Katie Piper.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “There is an army of volunteers in South Basildon and East Thurrock who give up their time to help others and who work to make our community a better place. Many of these are young people and I would encourage anyone who benefits from their dedication to make a nomination. It would be a great way of celebrating their contribution and hard work and will also highlight to the others the great benefits that volunteering can bring.”

Terry Ryall, CEO of vInspired said, “We have seen some truly amazing nominations in past years and are always proud to put on a tear jerking, eye-opening award ceremony celebrating the great things that young volunteers up and down the country are doing in their community.

“So please think about the young people who inspire you, who give their time energy and passion to good causes in your community.  Or who have overcome a tough time themselves, and still want to help others.  They deserve a celebration, so tell us all about them so we can give them the party of a lifetime!” 

For more information or to nominate someone who inspires you, visit: www.vinspired.com/nationalawards. Nominations close on the 24th November 2013.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP joins residents for Christmas Lights Switch On


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock joined local residents to see the Christmas lights switched on in Basildon. 

He commented: “It was brilliant to see the Basildon Christmas Lights switched on. The turnout was absolutely fantastic and there was a great atmosphere with people young and old getting into the Christmas spirit. My thanks go to all those who have been involved in organising the lights and I hope that everyone will enjoy them in the run up to Christmas.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP celebrates the Best of British Innovation

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, recently attended the Institute of Physics’ (IOP) exhibition in Parliament in order to support the Institute’s Innovation Awards.

Hosted by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, the awards celebrate companies that have managed to successfully commercialise a physics-based innovation – contributing millions of pounds to the UK economy.

This year’s five winners were: Coherent Scotland Ltd, which has developed an ultrafast laser system for medical imaging; Tracerco Ltd, which has produced a leading gamma-radiation based tool for pipe measurement in the oil and gas industry; Zephir Ltd, which has designed a portable Light Detection and Ranging device that can assess a site’s suitability for a wind farm; Elekta Ltd, which has produced a beam-shaping device for targeted radiotherapy; and Simpleware Ltd, which has developed a software solution that converts 3-D images into high-quality computer models.

Local MP Mr Metcalfe commented: “It’s great to see innovative businesses that are helping to drive the UK economy being rewarded for their hard-work and original thinking by the IOP.”

“We have companies here that are researching high-tech medical treatments which are benefiting families in South Basildon and East Thurrock who have been impacted by illnesses like cancer – that’s physics with a real practical application.”

Dr Frances Saunders, President of the Institute of Physics, added, “Nearly ten per cent of the UK’s economic output is due to physics-based businesses like those being celebrated at the awards.  These companies show how the innovative application of physics research can create both world-changing technologies and successful businesses.”  

The IOP Innovation Awards are a unique celebration of commercial success built on physics.  To find out more about how physics is driving economic growth across the UK, including a regional breakdown, see the Importance of Physics to Economic Growthhttps://www.iop.org/publications/iop/2013/file_60318.pdf 

To learn more about the winning companies and for quotes from them visit: ttp://www.iop.org/activity/business/innovation/2013-winners/page_60481.html.


Stephen Metcalfe MP champions views of constituents at local Rail Summit


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, championed the views of local residents at his second Rail Summit this week, held at East Tilbury Library.

The Summit, organised and chaired by Mr Metcalfe, brought together key stakeholders and organisations to discuss local rail related issues such as level crossings throughout Thurrock and plans for a possible transport hub at Stanford-Le-Hope Station.

Among those in attendance were local rail providers C2C and Network Rail, community leaders including representatives from Thurrock Council, and members of the Stanford Forum.

The local MP presented attendees with a report containing the results of a survey on level crossings in East Tilbury that was sent to over 2,000 local residents. As a result, all parties have committed to working together to look into potential solutions to the problems at the crossing which primarily include limited access to emergency services and congestion when the barriers are down.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Like earlier this year, the Rail Summit provided an excellent opportunity to air local concerns and to look cooperatively for potential solutions. Whilst there no quick fixes to many of the issues raised I was extremely pleased to see the wide array of parties come together to put local people at the heart of their future plans.”

“I would like to thank all those who responded to my survey on level crossings in East Tilbury and those who let me know their views by email or letter. I appreciate the strength of feeling that this issue engenders and I am committed to keeping the pressure on to find a solution. I will also look carefully at how a full feasibility study of the crossing might be undertaken.” 

“I would also like to thank all those who gave up their time to attend the Summit and contribute so constructively to the discussion. I look forward to continuing our work together in the future.”


Thursday, 14 November 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP kick starts the festive season at Orsett Churches Centre

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, kicked off the festive season with local residents at the St Giles and All Saints Christmas Bazaar at Orsett churches centre last weekend.

The annual Bazaar proved to be a great success with a good turnout. There was lots on offer to do and refreshments to enjoy with tombola’s, cake stalls, crafts, card stalls and a raffle, with tickets drawn by the local MP and Cllr Sue Little.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “This was a great way to start the run up to Christmas. There was lots for people of all ages to enjoy and participate in and looking around I could see that everyone enjoyed the Bazaar as much I did!” 

“I would like to thank all those who worked so hard to organise the event and to the volunteers who manned the many stalls and activities. In enjoying the moment it’s easy to forget that a great deal of effort and hard work has gone on behind the scenes and this has not gone unnoticed.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP pays his respects to fallen soldiers

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, paid his respects to fallen soldiers this week at a Remembrance Sunday service in Pitsea Church Hall. The local MP also joined veterans at the local Tesco branch earlier in the week to sell poppies.

During the moving service Mr Metcalfe laid a wreath of poppies at the memorial before joining the community in a two minutes silence.

He said: “It was a privilege to join local residents in remembering the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in wars past and present. Their heroic deeds changed this nation forever and it is vitally important that we take a moment to remember this.”

Earlier in the week Mr Metcalfe joined local veterans at Pitsea Tesco to encourage shoppers to buy a poppy and support the Poppy Appeal. This year, the appeal is focusing on the range of work the British Legion does to support Armed Forces families, whether they are families of personnel on active service, of those currently in transition from military to civilian life, or of veterans. 

The MP added: “Each poppy sold helps the Royal British Legion support the British Armed Forces past and present and their families.  Remembrance Sunday may have passed but there are still plenty of ways to show your support for our Armed Services and I would encourage all those who can to do so.” 

For further information on how you can give to the Poppy Appeal and support the families of armed servicemen and women, please visit: http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/

Monday, 11 November 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP joins young engineers for Big Bang @ Parliament

Stephen with Selex ES at the 2013 Big Bang Fair

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, recently joined young engineers from across the country to get a taste of The Big Bang Fair in Parliament.

The Big Bang Fair is Europe’s largest science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) event for young people and Big Bang @ Parliament aimed to give politicians, policy-makers and the business community the chance to meet award-winning young scientists and engineers, and experience the careers inspiration behind The Big Bang Fair on their own turf.

Young winners of the regional stage of the National Science + Engineering Competition  showcased a range of exciting projects to guests and MPs. Pupils’ projects tackled issues from global problems, such as bee sustainability and water purification in third world countries, to technological innovations, including a transporter robot and an interactive bin. The finalists are competing for the titles of UK Young Scientist of the Year and UK Young Engineer of the Year, which will be awarded  at The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair in Birmingham in March next year.

Alongside the engineers of the future, some of the UK’s leading engineering business and industry, BAE Systems, Balfour Beatty, Jaguar Land Rover and UTC Aerospace Systems, were there to help demonstrate the variety of careers that studying STEM subjects can lead to.

The Big Bang @ Parliament was part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, a collaboration between the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the engineering community. The aim of the Week is to bring engineering to life for young people and to promote the message that engineering offers rewarding, creative and well-paid job opportunities for young men and women, in a broad range of dynamic environments like music, sport, computer gaming, construction, fashion, film special effects and environmental technology.

The local MP said: “It was fantastic to see young people so enthusiastic about STEM subjects and to see them looking at how to apply STEM to some of the world’s most pressing issues. I joined local firm Selex ES at this year’s Big Bang Fair so it was great to see it brought to Parliament. This is an area I am extremely passionate about and I hope to see more and more young people in South Basildon and East Thurrock aspiring to be engineers and scientists.”

“In order for this to happen, we must excite young people about the range of great careers that science, technology, engineering and maths subjects can lead to. That’s what The Big Bang and Tomorrow’s Engineers is all about and why Tomorrow’s Engineers Week is such a valuable initiative.” 

The UK Big Bang Fair will take place on 13-16 March 2014 at The NEC, Birmingham. For further information or to register go to www.thebigbangfair.co.uk