Thursday, 28 March 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP shows support for Berry Lane Patient Participation Group


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock showed his support for the Berry Lane Patient Participation Group when he dropped in last Friday.

The Patient Participation Group gives patients the opportunity to get involved with and support the running of the Berry Lane GP practice. The group includes members of the practice staff and they meet at regular intervals to discuss how to improve the services and facilities offered by the surgery.

Mr Metcalfe joined the Group for one of their regular meetings and was able to answer questions from the group about upcoming changes to the health service.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I was very pleased to have been asked to attend the meeting. The Group is a good example of all stakeholders, from doctors to patients, working together for the common good and to improve the service patients receive. It was also a great opportunity for me to hear the concerns and thoughts of both patients and healthcare professionals.”

“Patient involvement in healthcare is a very high priority for the NHS and will become even more so as GPs make the transition into Clinical Commissioning Groups next week.  Patient Participation Groups offer a positive line of communication with patients and I would encourage all practices in my constituency to start one.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP is on board with First Bus Essex Hybrid Launch


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, and John Baron, MP for Basildon, called in on Basildon Bus Station yesterday to support the launch of First Group’s new hybrid buses.

Mr Metcalfe was delighted to accept the invitation from General Manager of First Group, Danny Jones to see the new buses in operation and to learn about how they will benefit both customers and the environment.

The 19 Volvo 1900H vehicles will be operating in Basildon as part of First’s commitment to providing greener, cleaner, quieter and smoother journeys for their customers.

The Low Carbon Emission Buses (LCEB) are able to achieve the LCEB target for greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to a 30% reduction compared to the average Euro 3 diesel bus of the same total passenger capacity.

Stephen commented: “It was great to be with First Group for the launch of the new buses. They offer a vital service to the people of South Basildon and East Thurrock and customers will now benefit from more comfortable journeys, whilst the environment benefits from reduced emissions.”

“Let’s not forget the investment this brings into the area. Each bus costs £275k and I would like to thank First Bus for bringing this to Basildon.”

Stephen Metcalfe welcomes new steps to control immigration


Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed new steps set out by the Prime Minister to ensure we have an immigration system that favours people who work hard and want to get on in life. 

Tough reforms of all the routes of immigration to the UK have already been implemented by the Conservatives and have seen net immigration fall by almost a third since the last general election.

Stephen said: "Many people in Basildon and Thurrock are concerned about the issue of immigration and after thirteen years of open borders under Labour it is no wonder. Conservatives in Government have implemented a comprehensive policy of reform to our immigration system to make it more robust and more selective. These reforms have seen net immigration cut by a third since the general election."

"I welcome the new steps which the Prime Minister has set out to ensure that everyone who comes here pays their way and gives something back. By changing the rules on benefits and NHS treatment we will stop our system from being a ‘soft touch’. Making entitlement to public services something migrants earn and not an automatic right will stop the ‘something for nothing’ culture which grew up under Labour. These are common sense reforms and they will make a difference for people in South Essex."

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP presents awards to McDonalds apprentices




Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, and Tony Ball, leader of Basildon Council, presented awards to some very deserving apprentices from local McDonalds’ restaurants last Friday.
  
The apprentices from across Basildon have all gained Level 2 Apprenticeships in Multi-Skilled Hospitality which is the equivalent of 5 A*-C GCSE’s.

Apprenticeships at McDonalds are booming in Basildon thanks to the fantastic apprenticeship scheme offered by the restaurant chain which is one of the largest in the UK.

Local businesses woman Gen Isikgun who owns 5 local restaurants, is keen to see her 349 strong team benefit from the program. 

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Over the last year, 21 of Gen Isikgun’s team have gained Level Two apprenticeships and it was a real privilege to be at the awards evening to celebrate this fantastic achievement.”

One apprentice, Michael Gooda, who works at the Town Centre Restaurant began his employment in 2011 and is now a manager having gained his qualification in 2012. The apprenticeships are open to all crew members regardless of previous qualifications meaning that every employee has the opportunity to develop their skills base in such a way.

Mr Metcalfe added: “In 2011/2012, a record number of people started apprenticeships in South Basildon and East Thurrock and I would like to thank all those who have, and continue to invest in apprenticeships. They are a vital means through which young people can gain vocational skills that will stand them in good stead for future employment and a vital means through which we can get the economy moving again.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to once again congratulate all of the apprentices who have worked so hard to gain their qualifications and I wish them all the best for the future.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP and CCllr John Schofield welcome Lee Chapel Primary expansion plans


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed the news that Essex County Council (ECC) has granted Lee Chapel Primary School the opportunity to expand their premises.

Mr Metcalfe and Essex County Councillor John Schofield have been lobbying ECC for some time to allow the expansion to take place and are said to be delighted with the decision. The new facilities will allow Lee Chapel to increase their capacity with an additional form of entry.

In their last Ofsted report, Lee Chapel Primary School achieved Outstanding status with Ofsted praising both the standard of teaching and the excellent progress made by pupils throughout their time at the school.

Mr Metcalfe, who is known for his staunch commitment to promoting education throughout South Basildon and East Thurrock, commented: “This really is fantastic news for both the school and for children in the local area. Lee Chapel sets extremely high standards and this is exactly what we need from our schools.”

“The expansion will enable even more children to benefit from the outstanding education Lee Chapel provides and I very much look forward to seeing the finished result. In the meantime, I will of course be doing all I can to support the staff and students as the expansion process unfolds.”

John Schofield, County Councillor for Basildon Westley Heights who works hard to support improvements for his area said: "After having personally campaigned for over seven years on this issue I am thrilled that Essex County Council has agreed to release The Knares offices, the previous infant school premises, to enable the current primary school to expand. It is an outstanding school recently having obtained government teaching accreditation. This will be a stimulus for educational improvement across the whole of Basildon".

Stephen Metcalfe MP presents poetry award at Greensted Junior School

Stephen Metcalfe MP with headteacher Mrs Farrow 
and the School Council

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock visited Geensted Junior School last week to present the winner of the Basildon Challenge poetry competition with their award.

The recital competition, organised by the Basildon Education Services Trust (BEST), took place earlier in the month and saw children from across Basildon come together to recite by heart a poem they had learned or written. 

The overall winner was Sian Firth from Greensted Junior School and the local MP made a special visit to present Sian with her award in the school assembly.

Mr Metcalfe, who is patron of BEST commented: “It was fantastic to be able to present Sian with her well deserved award in the school assembly. I was a judge at the final of the competition so it was great to be able to follow that up and I hope it inspires the children at Greensted to get involved with other Basildon Challenges.”

Mr Metcalfe was also given the opportunity to have a tour of the school to meet with staff and pupils and to talk to the packed assembly hall about the role of an MP.

He added: “My visit was an extremely positive one and I was really impressed by the school.  The children were enthusiastic, keen to learn and very well behaved throughout my talk! I have high hopes for Greensted and I am sure this will be first of many awards that I present at to the pupils there.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP’s rail summit hailed a great success


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, organised a rail summit last Friday which has been hailed a great success by all involved.

The summit brought together all those with an interest in local rail issues including C2C, Network Rail, DP World London Gateway, and local stakeholders including councillors and residents to try and tackle some of the problems affecting the community.

All involved were supportive of the objectives and there was consensus that there were a number of issues that need looking at.

The focus of the discussions rested largely on the need for expansion at Stanford-Le-Hope station to both meet demand and ease congestion and also on how to tackle congestion problems caused by the level crossing in East Tilbury.

Stephen Metcalfe commented: “This was an extremely productive and constructive meeting. It was great to be able to bring so many different local stakeholders together to really get to grips with the problems affecting the local area and I think this will be the start of a long process in which improvements will be made.”

“As I have said before, these improvements will not happen overnight but we have made a start in addressing the problems. We have all come away from the meeting with action points and I look forward to hearing about they have been implemented at our next rail summit planned for June.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP Enjoys View From UK’s Biggest Quay Cranes



Local MP, Stephen Metcalfe, has visited London Gateway to see the view from the top of the UK’s newest and largest quay cranes.

Mr Metcalfe, who represents South Basildon and East Thurrock, climbed London Gateway’s  new giant quay cranes to take in the full scale of the work at the container port and logistics park as well as experiencing the breath-taking views of his constituency.


He also took the opportunity to discuss with the port’s management team the positive impact DP
World’s investment at London Gateway will have on the local community when it opens. The project
will create 12,000 direct jobs across a range of roles. Already, London Gateway has in excess of 2,500
people working on site and this is set to grow.

Stephen Metcalfe MP, said: “It’s incredible to see how work on the port has progressed since my last
visit. London Gateway has already made a positive difference to South Basildon and East Thurrock,
with hundreds of contractors, engineers and staff involved in building the port coming from the local
area. I’m looking forward to seeing the port up and running later this year and the full impact on the
local economy in the years to come.”

Andrew Bowen, London Gateway’s Engineering Director, who gave Mr Metcalf a tour of the
construction site, said: “We are delighted Stephen is providing support to London Gateway. We are
currently recruiting and have many positions available from mechanical and electrical engineers, to
IT, to operations and many more. The modern port of the 21st century is very different to many
people’s historical impressions and we would love to see more females applying for roles here. We
really encourage local people to apply for jobs and we look forward to continuing our close working
relationship with Mr Metcalfe and local communities as we work towards the port’s opening in Q4
this year.”

Stephen Metcalfe welcomes landmark step in childcare support for parents in South Basildon and East Thurrock


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed the landmark announcement to introduce tax-free childcare. When fully implemented, it will be worth up to £1,200 every year, for each child under age 12 and could benefit 2.5 million families.

From Autumn 2015, the Government will meet 20 per cent of childcare costs for working families and so will save a typical working family with two children under 12 up to £2,400 a year.

From the first year of operation, all children under 5 will be eligible, initially opening the scheme to 1.3 million families, and the scheme will build up over time to include children under 12.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “This is a landmark announcement for parents in South Basildon and East Thurrock, which will deliver meaningful support with the cost of childcare. It really shows that Conservatives in Government are committed to helping families make ends meet, and support parents back into work.”

The Prime Minister said: "If Britain is going to succeed in the global race we must help those who work hard and want to get on.” 

"Too many families find paying for childcare tough and are often stopped from working the hours they'd like. That is why we are introducing tax free-childcare, saving a typical family with two children up to £2,400 a year.”

"This is a boost direct to the pockets of hard-working families in what will be one of the biggest measures ever introduced to help parents with childcare costs.”

Monday, 25 March 2013

The Aspiration Budget

Read more about Stephen Metcalfe MP's reaction to the budget by clicking here.


Stephen Metcalfe MP lends his support to Whole and Hearty Community Cooking Competition


Last Saturday Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, lent his support to the Whole and Hearty Community Cooking Competition run by the ‘Choices Family Support Service’ at the Basildon Upper Academy in Pitsea.

Choices Family Support Service aim to enable positive changes for local families by empowering and inspiring individuals and families to move forward with the help of their range of services which  include counselling, family support, advocacy, parenting courses and forward referrals.

The cooking competition, which is hoped will become an annual event, saw people from across community come together to show off their culinary skills. Contestants were allowed to create a dish of their choosing to be judged a number of community leaders.

The competition was won by 13 year old Max Houghton from Pitsea, whose dishes ‘wowed’ the community and fellow competitors alike, including the Bowers and Pitsea Football Team who called into the Academy when their match became a victim of the un-seasonal weather.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I am so glad to have been invited to this great event. The standard of cooking was fantastic – certainly better than anything I could have rustled up! My congratulations go to all those who entered, and my thanks to all those who organised this event.”

Organiser Susanna Caira-Neeson, speaking on behalf of Choices Family Support Service said after the prize-giving: “We would like to thank those members of our community who ventured out in spite of the bad weather to support the event. We would also like to thank the staff and governors of the Basildon Academy for their continued support of our work.”

Mr Metcalfe added: “Choices Family Support Service is a brilliant organisation working tirelessly to support families in the local community. If you would like to find out more about them, please visit: http://www.choicesfamily.co.uk.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes two Basildon Apprentices to ‘Voice of the Future 2013’

Stephen Metcalfe MP with Amy Tilbury,
Bill Braybrook and Simon Tween

Last week Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, welcomed two young engineering apprentices from Basildon to ‘Voice of the Future 2013’ at the Houses of Parliament.

The event, organised by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and the Society of Biology, gave young scientists and engineers from across the country the opportunity to participate in a Science Question Time with Ministers and MPs.

MPs and Ministers gave up their normal seats around the committee table and were instead required to give evidence to the young people in attendance. Science Minister David Willetts faced tough questions on tuition fees, immigration and tackling inequality in UK science, while Sir John Beddington was asked about key issues such as climate change, food security and the recent horse meat scandal.

Two young engineers, Amy Tilbury and Billy Braybrook, from Basildon based agricultural engineering company New Holland, proudly represented South Basildon and East Thurrock in the proceedings which were broadcast live on BBC Parliament.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I was delighted that Amy and Billy could join me in Parliament for Voice of the Future 2013. I am extremely passionate about getting young people interested in science and engineering and this prestigious event proved to be a fantastic means of promoting the subjects. It also gave the young people an insight into the importance of science in Parliament.”

Mr Simon Tween, Maintenance Coordinator of New Holland Agriculture said: “At the invitation of Stephen Metcalfe MP, it was my privilege to accompany  two of my apprentices to the Voice of the Future event held at the House of Commons last week.  The event allowed the apprentices a glimpse into the workings of government and to gain a better understanding of the issues affecting young engineers and scientists in Academia and Manufacturing.  The opportunity to question MP’s and Ministers of Government at Westminster was an experience they will not forget.”

One of the key themes of the day was how to promote gender equality in a field which, as Minister David Willets conceded, is currently dominated by men. Innovative organisation ‘ScienceGRRL’ were in attendance to champion female scientists and to highlight the extraordinary opportunities available to women in STEM careers.

Mr Metcalfe added: “ScienceGRRL is a fantastic organisation and I was really pleased to see them in attendance at the event. We need to bring some more diversity into the STEM workforce and their efforts play a vital role in inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers to reach their potential in a field that is only going to grow in importance.”


Stephen Metcalfe MP supports campaign to raise awareness of brain tumour symptoms in children

























Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, is supporting the national 'HeadSmart Campaign' organised by The Brain Tumour Charity, to raise awareness amongst parents and healthcare professionals of the symptoms of brain tumours in young people and children.

Stephen attended an event last week in the House of Commons hosted by The Brain Tumour Charity and The Danny Green Fund to learn first-hand how to recognise the symptoms. The Charity showed Mr Metcalfe the resources they have developed, including symtptoms cards and an innovative smartphone app to help people recognise the symptoms of a brain tumour.

Speaking after the event Mr Metcalfe commented: "Around 500 children and young people a year are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year,  nearly ten a week.”

"Early diagnosis is crucial. Symptoms of a brain tumour can present in children in such a way that they are frequently mistaken for less serious conditions such as viral infection, fatigue, migraine, even hay fever or depression.”

The main warning signs that parents should look out for are:
·         Persistent or recurrent vomiting
·         Persistent or recurrent headaches
·         Blurred or double vision
·         Poor balance and co-ordination
·         Abnormal eye movements
·         Fits or seizures
·         Behavioural changes, especially tiredness
·         Abnormal head position such as wry neck, head tilt or stiff neck

Mr Metcalfe added: "I urge all parents to get hold of the symptoms cards or download the smartphone app, as well as to be watchful for the symptoms. If they persist, they need to raise their concerns with their local GP as soon as possible."

Vice Chair of The Brain Tumour Charity, Neil Dickson, said: "We are very glad that Stephen Metcalfe MP could join us to raise awareness of this very important issue. It took 9 months for my daughter Samantha to be diagnosed with a brain tumour. Having received many calls from parents who experienced similar delays, my wife Angela and I strongly believed that more had to be done to reduce the time taken for a diagnosis. That is why The Brain Tumour Charity started the HeadSmart campaign together with our partner organisations, who are all leaders in this field. Tragically this comes too late for Samantha, but by increasing the awareness of symptoms among parents and healthcare professionals, it doesn't need to be too late for others."

Professor David Walker, Professor of Paediatric Oncology at the Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre, said: "Brain tumours are fortunately rare, but they do happen, and it can be difficult for doctors to diagnose because the symptoms can often mimic less serious illnesses. Parents have no need to worry if their child occasionally experiences headaches, for example, but if symptoms come back frequently or are present for more two weeks or more, see your family doctor. The most important thing is that parents and family doctors know the symptoms of child brain tumours and make sure that possible cases are diagnosed as quickly as possible".

To find out more about the symptoms of brain tumours in young people or more about the national HeadSmart Campaign visit www.headsmart.org.uk.

Stephen Metcalfe MP supports brain tumour awareness event


Last week, Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock  attended an event hosted by Brain Tumour Research and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for brain tumours. The event marked brain tumour awareness month and gave MPs an opportunity to hear the findings of a new report on the funding available for brain tumour research.

Mr Metcalfe and other guests all wore hats to promote Wear A Hat Day on the 28th March, the charities annual national awareness raising campaign.

The report by New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), commissioned by Brain Tumour Research, found that brain tumours (which kill more children and adults under 40 than any other cancer) have one of the lowest survival rates across all cancers - and one of the lowest levels of funding. Brain Tumour Research is calling for five times as much funding for research into brain tumours by 2020.

The report also found that just 18.8% of individuals survive for more than five years and that mortality rates are increasing, with 16% more deaths recorded in 2011 than in 2001. The average years of life lost for brain tumours stands at 20.1 years, compared to the average across all cancers of 12.5 years.

The report further shows that cancer research funding is significantly skewed, with just 5 site specific cancers: breast cancer, leukaemia, colon and rectal cancer, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer receiving 60% of all funding, leaving the remaining 40% spread out across 43 remaining site specific cancers.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I was very moved by the findings of the research and appreciate how hard it must be for patients and the family and friends of those diagnosed with a brain tumour. It is vital that we invest in research into all cancers and that the allocation of funding is fair for all.”

“I will be helping raise awareness of brain tumours by wearing my hat on 28th March and urging my constituents to sign the e-petition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/35167”.

For further information about Brain Tumour Research, the report  and Wear A Hat Day go to www.braintumourresearch.org or phone the team on 01296 733011.

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes injection of money into primary school sport

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed a recent announcement that will see an extra £4,030,700 given to primary schools across Essex. The decision aims to transform school sport, improve coaching for the youngest pupils, and to inspire the Olympic and Paralympic stars of the future.

London 2012 gave Britain a once in a lifetime opportunity to inspire a nation to enjoy sport and the Government wants to embed that into the school day from an early age. The Prime Minister has announced a £150 million Olympic legacy fund to improve the quality of provision in every state primary school in England.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Young people across South Basildon and East Thurrock will benefit from this announcement. This money will help to secure the Olympic legacy and I look forward to seeing medal winners from the local area in the future!”

The Prime Minister, David Cameron said: “The Olympic and Paralympic Games marked an incredible year for this country and I will always be proud that we showed the world what Britain can do. I want to ensure the Games count for the future too and that means capitalising on the inspiration young people took from what they saw during those summer months. This investment will benefit a whole generation of children for many years to come.”

Olympic gold winner, Jess Ennis CBE said: “It is great to see initiatives that help to give really young children the chance to take part in sport. This latest funding for primary schools sounds fantastic – now whether in an inner city or small rural community, young kids will be introduced to fun ways to be active that will spark an interest in taking part in sport as they grow up.”

Double Olympic Champion, Mo Farah CBE said:“It is great to see a commitment to funding school sport and that it is something I passionately believe in. I am very excited to know that lots of children will be able to get involved in sport while at school and get more help from teachers and coaches. It really is very important.”

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes Chancellor’s budget at Rickard Keen post Budget Briefing

 Noel Kelleway, Cllr Tony Ball, Gina Mills
and Stephen Metcalfe MP

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, praised the Chancellor’s budget at a breakfast meeting this morning organised by local accountants, Rickard Keen.

Mr Metcalfe, who addressed a group of local business men and women at the post budget business breakfast, said that the budget will help everyone, whether they are low earners, families, motorists or employers in South Basildon and East Thurrock.

Amongst the announcements, the local MP particularly welcomed the raising of the personal allowance, the scrapping of the fuel duty escalator and the introduction of the employment support allowance.

By raising the personal allowance, those on low incomes can now earn £10,000 before any income tax has to be paid. The tax cut will benefit an estimated 39,443 people in South Basildon and East Thurrock bringing the total lifted out of tax completely to 4,012.

Further savings will be made by the Chancellor’s decision to scrap fuel duty, which will put an extra £7 into the pockets of the average family when they fill up their car. Over 5.6 million motorists in the South East are set to save over £170 year. Fuel duty will now have been frozen for nearly three and half years - the longest freeze in duty for over 20 years.

The Employment Support Allowance is also great news for South Basildon and East Thurrock.

This is a bold set of tax cuts for businesses and employers which will take £2,000 off the National Insurance bill of every employer whether they be a business, charity or community amateur sports club. This will help 140,000 employers in the South East, taking 70,000 out of having to pay any tax on jobs at all.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “The Chancellor made some fantastic announcements that will put money back into the pockets of people in South Basildon and East Thurrock. Fuel will be 13p per litre lower than if Labour were in power, businesses will have what they need to hire, expand and grow, and those on the lowest incomes will have more money in their pockets now that the income thresholds have risen.“

“Let’s not forget that these announcements come in the wake of further good news this week. On Tuesday the Treasury also announced plans for tax free child care in 2015. This will be worth up £1,200 a year for every child under the age of 12.”

“The message is clear. This Government is for hard working people. We have listened and responded and I look forward to seeing people in South Basildon reap the benefits.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP celebrates the best of local Science and Engineering at Big Bang event

Stephen Metcalfe with Philip Pratley from
Selex ES and Selex Apprentices

Recently Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, celebrated the best of local science and engineering at The Big Bang event at the excel centre, London.

The Big Bang is the largest Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fair for schools and industry which aims to showcase the best of British talent and demonstrate to young people just how many exciting and rewarding opportunities there in STEM subjects.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “This really was a brilliant event. I am extremely passionate about the promotion of STEM subjects and about seeing them prosper in South Basildon and East Thurrock, it was therefore very encouraging to see my constituency represented at the event.”

“I spent time with Basildon based Selex ES who pride themselves on technological excellence for the security industry and I think it is also worth highlighting that there isn’t a single airbus 380 flying in the world today without a part made by Basildon firm, Gardner Aerospace. We have a STEM industry in the local area that we should all be extremely proud of.”

The Big Bang event also hosted the, Government supported, national final of the Young National Science and Engineering Competition. Open to all 11-18 year olds living in the UK and in full-time education, the competition rewards students who have achieved excellence in a science, technology, engineering or maths project.

Mr Metcalfe added: “I hope that the event and competition inspire young people in South Basildon and East Thurrock to take up STEM subjects. There were over 170 organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors offering a fresh, new perspective to young people on where their school subjects can take them.”

“I would encourage all young people in my constituency to seriously consider STEM subjects and to contribute to the fantastic industry that already exists right on our doorstep.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP spearheads summit to tackle local rail issues


Stephen Metcalfe,  MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has organised a rail summit with key stakeholders to discuss some the rail problems affecting local people.

The summit, which is to take place this coming Friday will bring together all those with an interest in local rail issues including C2C, Network Rail, DP World’s London Gateway, and local stakeholders including Councillors, residents and Mr Metcalfe himself.

He commented: “Over the last few months I have received an increasing number of letters expressing concerns about rail issues, particularly around delays caused by the lowering of the level crossing gates and questioning what would happen in an emergency. We need to understand these issues better and the only way to do this is to come together, to pool ideas and to discuss potential solutions.”

Among the issues to be discussed will be the length of time level crossings remain down and the congestion this causes, emergency services access and the potential impact of increased freight from London Gateway.

Mr Metcalfe added: “I am under no illusions, these are not problems that will be solved overnight but I hope that this summit will be the start of a process that will see improvements for all concerned.”

“I look forward to the meeting and would like to thank all those involved for agreeing to attend. I think together, we can start making a real difference for our local community.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP encourages Swan Housing Foyer residents to engage with politics

Stephen with Swan Housing Foyer residents

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has pledged to help residents of the Swan Housing Foyer engage with politics following a visit to the residence last week.

Mr Metcalfe met with Foyer residents in Vange to catch up with the young people after they visited him in Parliament last year and to encourage them to stay engaged with the political process.

Swan operates two foyers in Basildon which both aim to provide young homeless people aged 16-25 with secure accommodation, life skills training and encouragement in obtaining an education, training and employment.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “It was a real pleasure to visit the Swan Housing Foyer. It offers vulnerable young people a real chance to get their lives back on track, to break the cycle of homelessness and a real opportunity to develop skills that will stand them in good stead for the future.”

“I think that engaging with the political process is an important part of this and I have pledged to help the foyer residents maintain their engagement with Parliament.  I look forward to my involvement with the organisation in the future and hope that the young people get as much out of the experience as I have so far.”

For further information on Swan Housing Foyer, please visit:
http://foyer.net/

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP pressures Minister on Bail House relocation


Stephen with local residents petitioning for the
relocation of Bail House
Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, rose on the floor of the House of Commons yesterday to urge the Secretary of State for Justice to work with him to move the controversial Bail House.

The location of the Hostel, also known as Felmores Approved Premises, has long been a source of great contention with local residents who object to sex offenders being housed in a residential area within the vicinity of a local park and two primary schools.

Mr Metcalfe, who has long supported the plight of residents, asked the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling MP: “Felmores approved premises in my constituency is located near a school, a nursery, a playground and a densely populated housing estate. Does my right hon. Friend agree that although the provision of such premises is essential, a location such as the one I have described is inappropriate? Will he encourage probation trusts to work with the local community to find alternative locations?”

The Minister responded: I have a lot of sympathy with my hon. Friend and I will ask the Minister responsible for prisons and probation whether he will work with him to look at the situation described. Clearly, it is not sensible to locate such facilities in highly sensitive locations, although my hon. Friend will agree that their provision in the community is vital.

Mr Metcalfe later commented: “I am grateful to the Council and Essex Probation Services for the work they have already done on this issue, but It is vital that I keep drawing attention to this problem at the highest level. As long as it is a problem for residents, it is a problem for me and I will keep fighting to ensure that the voice of my constituents is heard.”

“I will ensure that the Justice Department follow up on their promise to work with me on the possibility of relocating the Approved Premises. I hope that we can come to a conclusion that suits all involved and where residents feel safe and secure in their community.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP pledges to back Prostate Cancer UK’s Quality Checklist


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has pledged to support the swift implementation of a Prostate Cancer UK initiative in Essex to help men with prostate cancer receive the best possible care and support, regardless of where they live.

This comes as new analysis uncovered vast variations in the care that men with prostate cancer receive across the whole of England. The evidence further highlights that, despite recent improvements, the disease lags behind the treatment of other common cancers in key areas such as availability of Specialist Nurses, provision of information and support.

In a bid to help stamp out these inequalities, Prostate Cancer UK has produced a Quality Checklist to be used as a best practice guide for men and clinicians. The checklist sets out 15 national standards for care and support that men with prostate cancer should expect and demand, from the point of their diagnosis through to the end of their life.

Stephen Metcalfe MP showed his support for the Quality Checklist at a campaigning event held at Westminster this week where he met with people affected by prostate cancer from across the country.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, yet the quality of care is not consistent across the country. It is incredibly important that we do all we can to ensure all men with prostate cancer get the care and support they need. I am therefore delighted to endorse Prostate Cancer UK’s Quality Checklist, and hope that it is adopted as soon as possible to help all men who are diagnosed with the disease.”

Dr Sarah Cant, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “There are over 215,000 men living with prostate cancer in England, many of whom have to make difficult treatment choices or cope with tough side effects. It’s not good enough that that they also face a postcode lottery when it comes to the quality of support and information they receive to deal with this. It is vital that every man with prostate cancer has access to the world class information, care and support he needs and deserves if we are to help men have a better quality of life in the future."

"We are delighted that Stephen Metcalfe MP has shown his support for men with prostate cancer by endorsing our Quality Checklist. Men with prostate cancer deserve the best, and we’re absolutely determined that’s exactly what they are going to get.”

The charity is working closely with men and their families, healthcare providers, politicians and health professionals to ensure that the checklist is adopted and implemented throughout the UK.
To view the Quality Checklist please visit www.prostatecanceruk.org/qualitycare.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Open Letter to Ford Motor Company CEO as Parliament piles on pressure in support of Visteon (UK) Pensioners

As we approach the 4th anniversary of the collapse of Visteon UK and in advance of the planned demonstration next Wednesday, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in Support of Visteon Pensioners has today sent an Open Letter to Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Company CEO formally asking that he reconsider Ford’s position with regard to compensating their former employees that have suffered pension losses since the collapse of Visteon in March 2009.

For further information please click here.

Stephen Metcalfe MP rallies behind Visteon Pensioners at protest


Yesterday, Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, made his voice heard at a 200 strong protest outside Parliament by Visteon pensioners.

The local MP, who is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Visteon Pensioners, took to the megaphone and rallied protestors with a rousing speech expressing his ongoing support for their fight.

The rally marked the 4th anniversary of the collapse of Visteon UK after it was spun off from Ford Motor Company in 2000. Many employees were left with drastically reduced pensions and claim that Ford set Visteon up to save costs and that it was always doomed to fail.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “As I said at the protest yesterday, we will continue to fight for the Visteon Pensioners until Ford fulfil their moral obligation to their ex employees.”

“I have been joined in this campaign by colleagues from across the political spectrum and from across the country and we have worked tirelessly to seek justice for our constituents.”

The protest came just days after Mr Metcalfe wrote a letter to Ford CEO, Alan Mulally, asking him to reconsider his position on compensating the ex Ford employees.

Mr Metcalfe added: “Both the letter and the protest send out a clear message to Ford that we are united in our support for the Visteon workers and that this is not an issue that can simply be brushed under the carpet. We all want to see the pensioners receive the money they are rightly entitled to and we will continue to draw attention to this issue until this happens.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP judges BEST poetry


Last Friday, Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined the schools taking part in the Basildon Challenge, for an afternoon of poetry by Key Stage One children from across Basildon.

The recital, organised by the Basildon Education Services Trust (BEST), aimed to increase children’s engagement with poetry and to help them develop public speaking skills. As such, pupils from across Basildon were challenged to write, or find a poem, learn it by heart and then deliver it in their schools. Each school selected a finalist to represent them at the grand final.

Stephen Metcalfe MP, Eileen Patching OBE, and Sue Faulkner from Essex County Council formed the final judging panel and marked the children out of 20 on their interpretation and delivery of the poem.

Mr Metcalfe, who is patron of BEST, commented: “I was delighted to be a judge at this fantastic event. The standard was incredibly high and I would like to congratulate every child who took part, they all did their schools proud! The children seemed to enjoy the experience and they will have learned some invaluable lessons in public speaking and gained an appreciation of poetry along the way.”

Patrick White, Director of BEST said:  "The pupils showed the most amazing promise in delivering their poems, and were an absolute credit to themselves, their schools and their families. We must ensure that the pupils retain their drive, confidence and attitude in adult and working life and so enhance their lives and the lives of others in Basildon."    


Mr Metcalfe added: “BEST are constantly challenging children in Basildon to aim higher, to develop new skills and to broaden their horizons. I am extremely proud to be patron of the organisation and I look forward to supporting other events such as this in the future.”

The overall winner was Sian Firth, from Greensteads School who received a trophy and a medal to mark her achievement while Charlie Harland-Dornan from Lee Chapel Primary came a very close second and received a silver medal.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes clearer information on local crimes


Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed news that the public will get a clearer picture of how police are tackling crime with the introduction of more detailed crime categories.

Under the current system, 70 per cent of crimes are recorded as ‘undetected’, leaving victims and the public concerned that nothing has been done by police. Under the new recording framework a new ‘community resolution’ category will recognise the community penalties that criminals receive, increasing transparency and improving accountability.

‘Undetected’ offences also include cases where ‘no further action’ was taken as the police were unable to mount a prosecution, either because there was insufficient evidence, the alleged victim did not want to proceed or because one party died after the offence was committed.

Commenting, Conservative MP Stephen Metcalfe said: “Recording offences as ‘undetected’ when in fact a lot of police time and effort has gone into investigating the offence is totally misleading and sells our police officers short. It is inaccurate and it is good news that the Government are scrapping it.”

“Residents in South Basildon and East Thurrock want to know more about crime and policing in our area and this change will mean they get better information. It builds on the very popular online crime maps on the ‘Police.uk’ website in giving local people a clearer picture of what is happening in our area.”

Conservative Policing and Criminal Justice Minister Damian Green said: “By introducing new categories, the police will be able to demonstrate the hard work they do and increase public transparency in policing.”

Friday, 8 March 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP pays a visit to St Margaret’s School

Stephen Metcalfe and Cllr Hillier with pupils from the school

Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, and Sandra Hillier local County Councillor for Langdon Hills, paid a visit to St Margaret’s C of E Primary School last week to show their support for the school under the new headship of Emma Wigmore.

Mr Metcalfe and Cllr Hillier were given a tour of the school and made the most of the opportunity to meet and talk with students from a wide range of year groups. They also met with the Chair of Governors, Helen Chapman, and were introduced to the new Headteacher who outlined her vision for the future of the school.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “It was great to visit St Margaret’s. It was a pleasure to meet some of the pupils and to touch base with Emma Wigmore and Helen Chapman. We cannot hide from the fact that the school has faced some challenges recently, but I have every confidence that things can, and will change under this new leadership.”

“I hope that this will be the first of many visits and I look forward to seeing the school moving forward and flourishing. I will of course be supporting this process in any way that I can.”

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Open Letter to Ford Motor Company CEO as Parliament piles on pressure in support of Visteon (UK) Pensioners


As we approach the 4th anniversary of the collapse of Visteon UK and in advance of the planned demonstration next Wednesday, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in Support of Visteon Pensioners has today sent an Open Letter to Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Company CEO formally asking that he reconsider Ford’s position with regard to compensating their former employees that have suffered pension losses since the collapse of Visteon in March 2009.

Stephen Metcalfe, chair of the APPG, commented: “One week from today, as we near the 4th anniversary of the collapse of Visteon UK, Visteon Pensioners will be outside Parliament demanding justice from Ford. Members of the APPG believe that Ford has a moral  responsibility to compensate the financial losses of the pensioners hence we have written the Open Letter to publicly highlight our concerns and to call on Ford to meet its obligations.”

“Ford have a hard won reputation for being a family company and for being fair to it employees. It would be a shame if that reputation were to be lost because of the plight of the Visteon Pensioners.”

The letter reads: 

Dear Mr Mulally,

Re: Visteon (UK) Pensioners.

As we approach the 4th anniversary of the collapse of Visteon UK and in light of a recent debate that took place here in Parliament, I am writing to you in my capacity as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in Support of Visteon Pensioners to formally ask that you reconsider your position with regard to compensating your former employees who have suffered pension losses since the collapse of the company in March 2009.

We had hoped to be able to put this request directly to representatives from Ford Motor Company Limited whom we had invited to meet with us on 5th March 2013. Unfortunately, however, they declined the invitation and so now I extend an open invitation to you to meet with us to discuss our campaign for justice for your former employees.

Also, considering the points raised in the above mentioned debate and the determination on the part of Members of Parliament to get justice for their constituents, we invite you to respond to the debate and our request that you reconsider in advance of any meeting that might take place.

As way of background, shortly after my election in 2010, I was contacted by a number of constituents concerning the collapse of Visteon UK and the devastating effect this had on their pension rights.

As you will be aware, following the collapse it emerged that the Visteon UK pension fund appeared to be underfunded to the tune of around £350m, resulting in the fund being referred to the Pension Protection Fund in the UK for assessment. This resulted in many of the pensioners receiving reduced pensions, in some cases by almost 50% - I, and now many other colleagues, have therefore, for the last two years, been investigating their cases and looking at ways to support our constituents.

Amongst other actions we have met with Joe Greenwell, Chairman, Ford Motor Company Limited, and members of his team on a number of occasions and would like to place on record our gratitude for their co-operation and availability to discuss this matter, although it is a matter of record that this has not resulted in any progress towards a solution.

Our constituents submit that Ford did not taken enough care of its employees when they were transferred from Ford to Visteon UK at the time of spin-off in 2000. In particular, they feel that their transferred pensions were mis-sold to them and that assurances which were given at the time by Ford turned out to be meaningless. This issue is obviously the subject of legal action here in the UK and will be tested in court at some point during 2013.

Our constituents also submit that Ford Britain, over the life of Visteon UK, drove prices down to an extent that the UK operation became totally unviable; again it is a matter of record that Visteon UK never made a profit in its 10 year existence.

Our firm belief is that Visteon was set up to fail, both here in the UK and elsewhere. Indeed, the new CEO of Visteon Corporation, Tim Leuliette, who when asked “Did Visteon have a chance when it was spun off” answered simply “NO. The labour cost issues, and 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.”

We submit that someone somewhere within Ford decided that, in line with other motor manufacturers, it would be in the best interests of the wider business to dispose of its parts manufacturing arm, on the basis that it was too expensive, too labour intensive and that without internal production, cheaper external production sources could be found.

We also submit that Ford and its main board directors knew that Visteon UK was going to lose huge amounts of money, that its costs were going to outstrip its income and that, at best, whatever its future was, it was not going to be the same as it was in the past.

Therefore, because of the actions of Ford, my constituents believe that Ford should make up the shortfall in their pensions, especially in light of the fact that we are aware there are still a number of main board directors serving today who would have been involved in the original spin off.

Morally, we and our constituents believe Ford has a duty to try and rectify the situation and to restore the losses people have suffered.  Whilst commercially there may well have been a good argument to spin off Visteon, here in the UK there has been a real human cost to that action, for which we believe Ford is morally responsible.

As William Clay Ford said at the Science Museum in his speech in 2011 to celebrate the Centenary of Ford in the UK: “I have always thought of Ford employees, dealers, suppliers and partners as members of our extended family.” We are sure you will concur that the thing about families is they stick together when things get tough or go wrong. The constituents we represent felt very much part of that wider family and now feel very let down.

Many loyal employees, some who had worked for Ford for 30 years and were only transferred to Visteon for the last 3 months of their career, are now paying the price of failure and receiving much reduced pension rights.

Bill Ford also said: “I want to thank and congratulate all of our employees, dealers, suppliers and partners for the outstanding job you have done. Because of your efforts, our centennial is much more than a trip down memory lane – it is a celebration of a brilliant present and a promising future.” Sentiments we wholeheartedly agree with, but to have achieved this there have been casualties along the way – namely the 3000 former Visteon employees whose pensions have been damaged.

Even more recently we would draw your attention to Bill Ford’s interview at Wisdom 2.0 conference. Again the sentiment of that interview seems to sit at odds with the stance the company is taking on this particular issue.

Our understanding is that no other group of former Ford employees/ex-Visteon employees have had their pensions affected in the same way, indeed in the US we are led to believe the employees did not transfer away from Ford, so while they worked for Visteon, Ford was protecting both their employment and pensions rights.

This is an option that we are sure many of the former employees of Visteon would have liked to have opted for, but the offer was never made, although we believe there could have been an opportunity for people to have kept their pensions inside the Ford scheme as there was an inextricable link between Ford and the new entity, Visteon.

We would suggest had the US employees of Visteon been affected in the same as their UK counterparts and were now receiving greatly reduced pension rights, this issue would have received considerably more publicity in the US than it currently receives and been treated with a great deal more seriousness than it currently is.

We are fully aware that Basildon together with the other factories and the people they employed are a long way from Dearborn and thus out of sight and therefore out of mind. But these are people who gave Ford lifelong service and helped build what is an iconic motor company worthy of the positive reputation it has, only to find that the guarantees they were given about their pensions were worthless.

Please don’t let this difficult situation damage your deserved reputation and consider how you can rectify this situation to bring the former Ford employees who transferred to Visteon back into the Ford Family.

We again ask, in light of your moral responsibilities, that you reconsider your stance on this issue and do the right thing.

We look forward to your positive response.

Yours sincerely

  
Stephen Metcalfe
Chairman – All Party Parliamentary Group in Support of Visteon Pensioners.

Cc: William C. Ford Jr, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP urges Government to recognise Kurdistan genocide

Stephen Metcalfe at a mass grave in
Kurdistan last year

Last week, Stephen Metcalfe MP took to the floor of the House of Commons to urge the Government to recognise the atrocities that took place in Kurdistan in the 1980’s as genocide.

The debate marked the lead up to the 25th anniversary of the infamous Anfal campaign in which for the first time in human history, a Government used chemical weapons on its own people. Under the presidency of Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan al-Majid (otherwise known as ‘Chemical Ali’) sought to ‘solve the Kurdish problem’ in a systematic ethnic cleansing program against the Kurds.

This resulted in the catastrophic loss of life of over 100,000 Kurdish people and the calculated destruction of some 2,000 villages in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Many more lie buried and anonymous in the mass graves that blight the country. As the Kurdistan Mass Graves Commission have stated, “There is another Iraq under Iraq.”

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I am sure many people in South Basildon and East Thurrock will remember watching these horrific events unfold in the news. This genocide happened in our lifetime and given current events in Syria it has never been important to send a clear message to dictators all over the world that we will not tolerate genocide and we will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons.”

In a highly emotive debate, the House heard from MPs from across the political spectrum before listening to the response from Government Minister Alastair Burt MP.

In his speech Mr Metcalfe who is vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Kurdistan, spoke passionately about a nation earnestly seeking to move forward and that genocide must be recognised, “not to affirm the status of victim on the Kurdish people but to recognise what they have survived and to walk with them as they continue to surge forward economically, socially, diplomatically and culturally.”

The local MP, who visited Kurdistan last year, later commented:  “As Kurdistan continue to grow, Britain will continue to invest. Kurdistan offers many opportunities for businesses across the UK, and in South Basildon and East Thurrock. But, if we are to move forward with our ally economically, we must work with them to gain recognition for the genocide inflicted on their people. I do not use the word genocide lightly, but in this instance, I do not think any other word will suffice.”

“As I said in my speech, without recognition, we cannot have reconciliation and the Kurdish people cannot move forward. My colleagues and I will continue to campaign on this issue and I sincerely hope that one day we can secure Justice for the people in Kurdistan.”