Thursday, 31 October 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP meets the next generation of local Olympians

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined double Olympic bronze medallist Max Whitlock at Basildon Sporting Village to demonstrate his support for the local facility and for the tremendous array of talented gymnasts who train there.

The local MP was given a tour of the Village before meeting some of the young gymnasts who train there. It is hoped that many will follow in the footsteps of local hero Max Whitlock to one day compete at an Olympic Games.

The Olympic medallist travels one hour each day to the train at the sporting village 5 times a week, a testament to the fantastic facilities on offer. The Sporting Village extended its Olympic links in 2012 by hosting the Japanese swim team.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I was blown away by the talent and dedication of the young athletes and of the coaching staff. They work extremely hard to be the best that they can be at their sport and I have no doubt that we will see other world class gymnasts emerging from Basildon.” 

“We should be extremely proud to have such a state of the art sporting complex in the local area. These facilities combined with local inspirational figures such as Max have created a legacy of excellence that I hope will continue for many generations to come.”

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP hears from GPs and patients at Horndon-On-The-Hill

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, visited GPs and the patient participation group at The Surgery on Horndon-on-the-Hill recently to gain an insight in to the day-to-day workings of a GP practice.

His visit forms part of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) MP-GP practice visit scheme which encourages MPs from across the political spectrum to visit local surgeries to see the challenged and opportunities facing general practice.

The local MP has been extremely active on issues surrounding healthcare in the constituency having met with patient participation groups in a number of surgeries in South Basildon and East Thurrock.

Stephen commented: “The BMA are right to stress the importance of MPs engaging with the medical profession. In order to improve health care for the whole country, MPs must keep themselves up to date with the issues affecting front line health care and general practice.”

“During the meeting, Dr Pattara and Dr Raja expressed concerns about proposals to open surgeries from 8am to 8pm. I am very conscious of the fact that these proposals need to consider small practices such as this one and as such, I have written to the Department for Health to ask how the needs of smaller practices will be incorporated.” 

He added: “We had an extremely useful exchange at The Surgery and I was delighted to hear the patient participation group singing the praises of the GPs and staff. It was extremely informative to get the perspective of both patients and medical practitioners and I look forward to my continued engagement with them.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP congratulates children for art competition entries

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and Thurrock, has congratulated all entrants of The Laboratory Art Studio children’s art competition after judging the entries last weekend.

The competition was open to children and young people under the age of 16 living in Essex with the theme of Woodlands and Wildlife.

An exhibition of all the entrants work was proudly displayed at The Green Centre, War Tyler Park and was open to the public to view.

The local MP, along with 3 other judges, congratulated all participants before announcing 3 winners in 3 different categories.

The local MP commented: “The competition offered a great way for young people to reconnect with nature in the local area and then to reproduce their experiences in these wonderful works of art.” 

“The standard of entries was fantastic and I would like to congratulate all those who took part. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the exhibition as I know many members of the public did and I hope that every young artist will come away with a great sense of pride in what they have achieved.” 

Stephen Metcalfe MP joins Paralympians to show support for social care and disabled people

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock,  joined double Gold medallist wheelchair athlete Hannah Cockroft and Paralympian Sam Ruddock at an event in the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, to show his support for social care for disabled people. 

The event, organised by disability charity Scope, was part of its ‘Britain Cares’ Campaign, which is calling on the Government to ensure that over 100,000 disabled people do not lose out on vital social care support which enables them to live independent, fulfilling lives.

The Care Bill will be debated by MPs in the House of Commons for the first time in the coming weeks.

While the debate on social care has focussed on the demands of an ageing population, one third of social care users are working age disabled people.  However research by Scope has found that currently 4 in 10 disabled people who receive social care support say it does not meet their basic needs.

So far almost 30,000 people have contacted their MPs in support of ‘Britain Cares’ campaign, and on Tuesday Mr Metcalfe  viewed an art installation of the hundreds of ‘I care’ photos, some of which were sent in from constituents in South Basildon and East Thurrock.

The local MP commented: “I was delighted to meet with Paralympians Hannah Cockroft and Sam Ruddock and to learn about how important the issue of good social care is to my constituents.”

“As a Conservative MP I am proud that the Government’s Care Bill will introduce a new, modern law for a care system built around people’s wellbeing.

As the Bill passes through the House of Commons, it is important that all MPs remember that one third of care users are working age disabled people and that social care must support them to live fulfilling, independent lives.”

Paralympic double Gold medallist Hannah Cockroft said:  “I am proud to give my support to the ‘Britain Cares’ campaign and to raise awareness of why social care is so important for disabled people. Social care supports thousands of disabled people to do the things that many take for granted – like getting dressed, washing, eating, or getting out and about to the shops.” 

“As a Paralympian, I am adding my voice to the tens of thousands who have already shown us that ‘Britain Cares’ about social care.”

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP celebrates St Cedds Day with Secretary of State

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and fellow Essex MP Eric Pickles to celebrate St Cedds Day.

St Cedd is patron saint of Essex and represents many of the values that have come to be synonymous with the County.

The patron saint was an Anglo-Saxon monk and bishop, instrumental in bringing Christianity to Essex. He also helped to resolve problems in the Church of England and built various monasteries around the County, one of which – Tilaburg – was probably built in East or West Tilbury.

The local MP commented: “I imagine that St Cedds Day will go unmarked throughout Essex, many don’t know we even have a patron saint, but St Cedds Day provides a fantastic opportunity to celebrate all that is great about Essex. The people of Essex are known for their self-reliance, their directness, and  their entrepreneurial spirit – all of which are qualities St Cedd would have embodied.” 

“I am extremely proud to be from Essex and to represent an Essex constituency – I hope the people of South Basildon and East Thurrock are too and I hope to see St Cedds day celebrated more widely in the years to come!”

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes new figures showing an increase in businesses in Essex and South East

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed new figures indicating an increase in the number of private sector businesses in the South East and Essex.

The number of businesses in the South East has increased by around 58,350 over the past three years whilst the New Enterprise Allowance is seeing business thrive in Essex.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “These figures are great news for everyone in South Basildon and East Thurrock. Thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of the British people, the British economy is now turning a corner. There is still more to do and that is why in 2014 this Government will slash the jobs tax on all businesses with a new £2,000 Employment Allowance. This will see 450,000 small businesses paying no jobs tax at all. Conservatives are committed to securing a recovery that works for all hardworking people.”

After being questioned by the local MP in the House of Commons last week, The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions informed Mr Metcalfe that the New Enterprise Allowance scheme has helped start 500 new businesses in Essex.

The New Enterprise Allowance is a package of Government support worth £69 million designed to help create tens of thousands of new businesses. Recent statistics suggest that around 2,000 new businesses are being set up every month.

The new funding includes:
  • Business mentoring and funding for people who are unemployed but want to start up a company. The New Enterprise Allowance will be extended for new starters up until the end of 2014, providing an additional 60,000 mentoring places for claimants. The scheme has already helped to create more than 26,000 businesses.
  • £34 million for Start-Up Loans that will support around 7,600 businesses. The scheme has already proved incredibly popular with around 35,000 people formally registering an interest in a loan and nearly 8,000 start-ups helped.

The new funding will also ensure there are more loans for those over 30 and specific support for ex-Service personnel. The  Allowance is being extended with new referrals being accepted for an additional 15 months until the end of December 2014. Over this period an additional 60,000 mentoring places will be made available to claimants.

Start ups in Essex include the extremely successful ‘Brainbuzz’ which helps educate parents on how to help children with disorders such as dyslexia.

Mr Metcalfe added: “The New Enterprise Allowance is a fantastic scheme offering substantial sums of money to those wishing to start up a business. I am delighted that applications are being accepted for an extended people and I hope that eligible people in South Basildon and East Thurrock will make the most of the opportunity available.” 

For further information on The New Enterprise Allowance see:

Stephen Metcalfe MP backs engineering in South Basildon and East Thurrock

This week Stephen Metcalfe MP pledged his continued support for engineering in South Basildon and East Thurrock at an event in Parliament hosted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Ahead of the forthcoming ‘Tomorrow’s Engineers Week’ (#TEWeek13), the local MP committed to working with schools and industry in South Basildon and East Thurrock to encourage more young people, particularly women, to pursue careers in engineering.

IET President Barry Brooks said: “Engineering underpins our everyday lives but we are facing a serious skills shortage. We urgently need to encourage more young people to take the right subjects at school and then progress into jobs in the engineering sector. I hope that, through the range of activity taking place for Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, we will be able to show how diverse, creative and exciting a career in modern engineering can be.”

Speaking at the IET’s Parliamentary event on 22 October, Mr Metcalfe said: “It will be this next generation of engineers and technicians who help to solve the challenges that we face in the 21st century such as devising ways to protect the environment, including suitable sources of energy, more efficient transport and other infrastructure, all to make for a better society and a stronger economy.”

“Engineering is part of everyday life and engineers make a world of difference. Engineers work in jobs as diverse as designing new hair care products, providing safer drinking water, designing stage lighting rigs and new mobile phones, and inventing new cars and space travel. I will be doing all that I can to show young people in my constituency what a great career engineering could be for them.”

Tomorrow’s Engineers Week takes place from 4th-8th November 2013 and is a collaborative effort between industry and government.  The campaign aims to change outdated perceptions about engineering careers among young people, their parents and teachers and will demonstrate the relevance of engineering to young people’s everyday lives.

Mr Metcalfe, who has been an ardent supporter of STEM subjects in South Basildon and East Thurrock, added: “Tomorrow’s Engineers Week is an important campaign and I am delighted to support it. There are many engineering employers within my constituency, including, and I have seen first-hand the contribution that young engineers are making to those companies and to our local economy.”

According to EngineeringUK, engineering companies will have 2.74 million job openings between 2010 and 2020 across a diverse range of disciplines. However far too few school children, particularly girls, are choosing the GCSEs, A Levels, Apprenticeships, degrees or other vocational pathways that will lead to engineering careers. 

For further information about Tomorrow’s Engineers Week and to find out how to get involved, visit

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes new help for motorists

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed a new raft of measures to cut the cost of running a car, including a crackdown on whiplash fraud, a freeze on MOT test prices and a pilot scheme to reduce the cost of fuel at motorway service stations.

Average motor insurance premiums have already fallen by more than 12 per cent over the past year, equivalent to a £80 reduction on an average policy, because of Conservative action to cut excessive lawyers’ fees and to ban the ‘referral fees’ which helped create a ‘compensation culture.’

Commenting, Mr Metcalfe said: “Conservatives have already helped hardworking people by cutting income tax for 25 million, freezing council tax and helping with tax-free childcare. Petrol is now 13p per litre cheaper now than it would have been because Conservatives have cancelled the rises in fuel duty which Labour had planned. But there is more that can still be done.”

“That’s why I welcome this new package of measures to keep insurance premiums low, freeze the cost of a MOT test and make it easier to get cheaper petrol on the motorway. These changes will make things easier for motorists in South Basildon and East Thurrock and I look forward to constituents reaping the benefits.” 

Roads Minister Robert Goodwill MP said: “The costs of owning and running a car are felt by millions of households and businesses across the nation. The Government is determined to help keep those costs down. That is why we are freezing the price for an MOT test and looking again at the costs associated with getting a driving licence.”

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP celebrates the work of the Citizens Advice Bureau

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, demonstrated his strong support for Basildon Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) last week at the annual general meeting.

After playing team captain in an ice breaking quiz, Mr Metcalfe gave a short speech in which he expressed his gratitude for all that the CAB does for local people and where he thanked volunteers and staff for their ongoing dedication to serving the community.

In particular, the AGM celebrated the contribution of Stella Calkin who has been volunteering for CAB for 50 years. In his speech, the local MP said she was an inspiration and an example to us all.

The Basildon CAB is one a network of centres nationwide providing invaluable free, independent, confidential, and impartial advice to anyone who asks for it. They deal with an array of issues from debt problems to unemployment, housing problems to help with legal cases. Last year alone, 2.1 million people were helped with 6.6 million problems.

Of the 28,5000 people working in CABs only 6,500 are paid. The remaining 22,000 are volunteers, contributing over £109 million to the economy.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “CABs provide a vital service to people up and down the country and I am extremely grateful for their serving the people of South Basildon and East Thurrock.”

“The Government does not have unlimited funds and this is where CABs services become so important. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all those who work in Basildon CAB whether paid or unpaid as I know there are so many constituents who will have benefited from their advice and advocacy.”

He added: “In particular, I would once again like to pay tribute to Stella Calkin for her volunteering half century! Few people reach such a milestone serving the community and I hope others will be inspired by her dedication.” 

For information on how to contact CAB, please see:

Stephen Metcalfe MP encourages constituents to back local charities in Lloyd’s community competition

Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, is encouraging constituents to vote for local charities in Lloyds Banking Group’s Community Fund scheme.

The Community Fund aims to provide support to local good causes to enable them to continue their work. Earlier this year staff at Lloyds Banking Group nominated and shortlisted local good causes that they personally care about.

Over 4,600 organisations were nominated and volunteers then created a shortlist of over 1,500 organisations in nearly 400 communities across the country, with four organisations in each community selected.

The organisations that have been shortlisted locally are:

·         Thurrock District Scout Asociation Condovers
·         Gateway People's Centre
·         Forest Glade Football & Baseball Club
·         Thurrock Foodbank

Mr Metcalfe commented: “It is great to see Lloyds supporting local charities. The money on offer could make a real difference to any one of these organisations - all of whom are working hard to better the community. I hope that the people of South Basildon and East Thurrock will play their part and cast a vote.”

A public vote opened up on 23 September and will run until 1 November in which members of the public can vote for the good causes they would like us to support either online, by SMS or alternatively in any participating Lloyds or Bank of Scotland branch.

Over 200,000 votes have already been cast to date. Every group on the shortlist will receive an award. The two with the most votes in each community will each get £3,000 and the other two will each get £300. 

For further information and to cast your vote see:

Stephen Metcalfe MP celebrates World School Milk Day at Arthur Bugler Infant School

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, recently paid a visit to Arthur Bugler Infant School to celebrate World School Milk Day.

Mr Metcalfe met with staff, pupils, and a representative of Cool Milk to discuss the importance of milk in the school day.

World School Milk Day is organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and is celebrated in over 30 countries around the world.  Its goal is to promote the importance of drinking milk in school to children in a fun and educational way.

Mr Metcalfe met with school staff before being given a classroom tour by pupils. As well as discussing the importance of milk in a healthy and balanced diet, the local MP also acted as milk monitor, lending a hand to teachers in distributing the drinks to the children.

He commented: “A third of a pint of milk contains nearly all the vitamins and nutrients of importance to humans, including over half of a child’s Daily Reference Intake (DRI) of calcium which is vital to help build strong and healthy teeth and bones. Getting these nutrients in early childhood provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow up strong and healthy and I was delighted to have the opportunity to share this message at Arthur Bugler Infant School.”

As well as the health benefits, drinking milk everyday helps a child’s interaction with other children, aids the development of important social skills, and acts as an education tool to teach children about where food comes from. 

For further information, please visit:

Stephen Metcalfe MP shows support for new congestion relief project

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined local residents at Lakeside Shopping Centre last week to visit the Highways Agency exhibition showcasing plans for relieving congestion on the 30/A13 corridor.

Located on a busy intersection on the M25, the corridor experiences congestion throughout the day with traffic further hindered by frequent incidents on the adjacent highway network.

It directly serves the Port of Tilbury and the Lakeside regional shopping centre and is regarded as the biggest remaining constraint to the development of the Thames Gateway area.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “This multi-million pound development is fantastic news for the people of South Basildon and East Thurrock. Not only will it bring much needed investment and jobs into Essex, but it will provide road users with a much less congested journey and allow the Thames Gateway area to be serviced more efficiently.”

The final design for the project will be agreed upon after the location for a Lower Thames Crossing is announced later this year. Construction for the new project will get underway early next year. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes fall in unemployment and crime

Local MP Stephen Metcalfe has welcomed new statistics showing that unemployment is falling in South Basildon and East Thurrock and that crime is on the decrease in Essex.

The number of unemployment claimants in South Basildon and East Thurrock has fallen by 252 since September 2012 and a further 105 since August 2013.

This downward trend is reflected nationally with the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance falling by 41,700 to 1.35 million last month. The number of people in work, both full-time and part-time, reached a record high of 29.87 million in the quarter, up 155,000.

The local MP commented: “This is fantastic news for South Basildon and East Thurrock and for the country as whole. We are slowly but surely getting back on our feet and I hope that my constituents will soon start to reap the rewards of this.”

It is not just unemployment on the decrease, crime levels are also following suit. Latest figures from the independent Office for National Statistics show that over the last three years recorded crime Essex has fallen by 3%.

Nationally, recorded crime has also dropped again – down more than ten per cent under this government – and the crime survey says that crime has more than halved since its peak in 1995.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “This is really positive news. Forces are rising to the challenge of making savings whilst cutting crime and delivering a better service to the public.” 

“I realise that 3% is not the highest of figures, but it definitely shows that we are heading in the right direction. I will keep working with Essex Police and PCC Nick Alston to ensure that crime continues to fall in South Basildon and East Thurrock and across Essex as a whole.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP urges constituents to have their say on Youth Services

Stephen with the local alternative education program

Local MP Stephen Metcalfe is encouraging his constituents in South Basildon and East Thurrock to have their say on youth service provision via an online survey run by Essex County Council.

Having completed the survey himself, Mr Metcalfe wants constituents to air their views on as Essex County Council begin to look at efficiency savings.

The Essex Youth Service currently operates within a £5m budget. There is a requirement to make savings over the next two financial years with a proposed savings target of £3m by 2015/16. The council would therefore like you to tell them your views to improve the quality of their decision making by listening to your expertise and exploring your alternative ideas.

In his submission, Mr Metcalfe stressed the importance of young people having a space where they feel listened to and meet their friends and where they can gain new qualifications and skills. He commented: “It is vital that local people get to have their say on youth service provision. It is a service that has knock on effects to many aspects of community life and any decision made by Essex County Council should therefore be shaped by the views of the local community.”

“I would encourage all constituents young and old to complete the survey to have their say and to help shape the future of youth service provision in the local area.”

Once completed, your responses will be analyses and a report compiled. This report is sent to senior managers for consideration. The final report will be published on the ECC website in January 2014. 

To complete the survey, please visit: or alternatively email to air your views.

Stephen Metcalfe MP stands up for victims of abuse

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, rose on the floor of the House of Commons yesterday to ask the Solicitor-General what steps are being taken support vulnerable witnesses and victims involved in abuse cases.

The Solicitor-General, Oliver Heald QC MP, informed the House that The Crown Prosecution Service takes allegations of sexual abuse and domestic violence very seriously and ensures that prosecutors are well equipped to handle those cases. He commented on the vital role of witness care units before adding that the Director of Public Prosecutions will shortly publish final guidelines on prosecuting cases of child sexual abuse.

The local MP pushed Mr Heald further by asking him to look at what more can be done to support those who have been the victims of psychological or emotional abuse.

In response, the Solicitor-General stated: “He is right that it is important to support such victims and witnesses, which is what the witness care units do. In addition, there is a range of guidance for prosecutors on issues such as the provision of therapy to vulnerable and intimidated witnesses. With regard to victims who have suffered mental trauma, there is guidance on how to help victims and witnesses with mental health issues, and the CPS also contributed to the Mind toolkit.” 

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Mental trauma is often invisible but the debilitating impact on victims’ lives cannot be underestimated. It is vital that more is done to support vulnerable people in these situations and I am pleased that the Government are working on this.”

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP visits Adult Community Learning kitchens

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has championed the Adult Community Learning (ACL) program after visiting the ACL kitchens at the Briscoe Centre last week.

ACL is Essex County Council’s award winning training provider offering a wide range of training courses and learning opportunities for adults and businesses across Essex. The kitchens at the Briscoe centre cater for a wide range of interests of skills.

Students can learn to cook basics from scratch, master Indian and Mediterranean cuisine, or have a go at baking cupcakes and cookies. More formal qualifications such as a Level 2 cake decorating are also on offer.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “The ACL centre offers some fantastic courses and it was great to see what was going on in the very busy kitchens! Cooking is an invaluable skill that we might take for granted but learning to cook properly can make a tremendous difference to your health and quality of life.”

As well as cookery, there are a host of skills development opportunities available including in maths, dance, languages and first aid.

Mr Metcalfe added: “ACL courses offer adults a great way of gaining new skills, getting career advice, and meeting like minded people. With the range of course on offer, there really is something for everyone so I would encourage anyone interested to book a place!”

For further information and to find out how to book, please see:

Monday, 14 October 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP breaks new ground at St Luke’s Hospice

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined staff and supporters of St Luke’s Hospice last week to help break new ground for the forthcoming development.

Together with Gerry Peaty, Chairman of St Luke’s Trustee Board, Mr Metcalfe picked up a shovel to mark the beginning of the building of a new vibrant Day Therapy, Assessment and Support Centre which will enable the Hospice to take a significant step forward in helping more people and enable them to offer a greater variety of services in the future.

The local MP also gave a speech in which he thanked all those who have been involved in securing funding for the development and all those who work so hard on a daily basis to make St Luke’s a centre of excellence.

The new build will provide fit for purpose facilities for clinical consultation and assessment, therapeutic activities, physiotherapy, complementary therapy and an Information and Advice Hub contained within a new two story annexe joining the current Day Hospice.

The majority of funding for the project, which is set to cost £775,000, was awarded to St. Luke’s by the Department of Health following a successful bid for funding by the Hospice.  The Department of Health award presented the Hospice with a short-fall of some £ 230,000 against the full project budget and has been further funded from the Hospices small pool of capital reserves that have come about from specific designated legacies donated to St. Lukes together with further capital grant applications made by the Hospice. 

Amongst those attending the ceremony were grant funders and Hospice patients who had a significant role in the consultation process.

Eileen Marshall, Chief Executive at St. Luke’s explained  “Patient involvement  helped us  to shape the project and  design some of the facilities,  their support   was important to us in underpinning our  commitment to making sure that services remain rooted within the needs of our patients.’’

Stephen Metcalfe, who supported the Hospice in obtaining some of the grant funding, said: “It was a privilege to play a part in breaking new ground for St Luke’s and I am delighted that the they are now able to go ahead with building this fantastic facility. The Hospice already makes an enormous difference to the lives of those affected by terminal illness and the additional services that will now be provided will only better this.” 

“My sincere thanks go to all those who worked so hard to bring this project to fruition and I will continue to support their great work in whatever I can.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP supports biggest Japanese cultural event in Essex

Last week Stephen Metcalfe MP visited the Kodosai Cultural Event to show his support for Japanese martial arts and culture in the local area and also to celebrate the established links between Japan and South Basildon and East Thurrock resulting from the 2012 Olympic Games.

The event, held in association with a number of organisation including the Japan Society UK and local Karate Club Maru Karate Kai, was the biggest Japanese martial arts and cultural event staged in Essex this year.

It aimed to celebrate Japanese activities in Basildon, recognising the Japanese Olympic and Paralympic swimming teams staying in Basildon for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and to promote Anglo-Japanese relations.

The local MP, who is patron of Maru Karate Kai, was able to get a taste of traditional Japanese martial arts, Shodu (calligraphy), Kyudou (archery), Ikebana (flower arranging), Nihongo (Language), and traditional drumming music.

He commented: “This was a fantastic event showcasing Japanese culture. I was blown away by some of the demonstrations and performances and it was a great way to celebrate our links with Japan.” 

“It must have taken a great deal of organising and hard work to put on so I would like to thank everyone involved. I hope that those who went learned as much as I did and I look forward to supporting other events such as this in the future.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP helps put the ‘Her’ into Hero

Last week Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, pledged to help put the Her into Hero as part of Little Miss Geek’s campaign to celebrate our female heroes past and present, and to encourage more girls to take up STEM subjects.

Mr Metcalfe responded to the rallying cry of Little Miss Geek along with MPs from across the house and hopes to help inspire to inspire young girls to become our female heroes of the future, as a part of Ada Lovelace Day on October 15th.

Little Miss Geek is providing resources to teachers so they can incorporate female heroes into the curriculum and their assemblies. The campaign is asking for schools across the UK to host a HER in Hero assembly, and we have already reached 5,000 girls.

Currently, the UK’s tech workforce is only 17% female, and over the last 10 years this has been dropping by 0.5% each year. If the UK continues at this rate, by 2043 there will be less than 1% women working in technology despite more women being big consumers of technology.

Technology is shaping the future for all industries, so it is essential we increase diversity as this leads to greater innovation - addressing technology’s gender divide is simply smart economics.

Mr Metcalfe has been involved in a number of initiatives to raise the profile of STEM subjects in schools including Science Grrl which aims to raise female participation. He commented: “It is vital that the gender divide in the STEM workforce bridged. Initiatives such as this help to do this by breaking down the stereotypes and giving young women role models to look up and career paths to aspire to.”

“I will continue to work hard on this area and hope that young women throughout South Basildon and East Thurrock will be seriously considering careers in Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering.” 

For more information, go to:

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP helps launch local ROC Cafe

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, recently launched a Redeeming Our Communities (ROC) Cafe at the Hassenbrook Youth Centre.

ROC Café is a multi-agency supported youth drop in project which provides healthy diversionary activities for young people. It also provides a great opportunity for partnership work between local churches, Police Service, Fire and Rescue, local authority and other community-based organisations to provide a youth focused project that can have a significant impact on a community.

Run by volunteers, a range of activities are available for young people including pool, table tennis, dance, drama, cleanup projects, classes, guitar tuition, and a variety of workshops teaching about a variety of social issues.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “This is a fantastic initiative that will make a real difference to young people in the community. The ROC Cafe provides a safe, constructive, and above all fun space for young people to enjoy and in which they can develop new skills.”

The multi agency approach means that ROC Cafe’s are uniquely placed to attract funding and also with input from the Police Service, are well equipped to deal with any challenging behaviour.

Mr Metcalfe added: “It is always brilliant to see local services collaborating to bring about real change. The partnership approach means that ROC Cafe is sustainable and in a great position to drive down anti-social behaviour and bring new life to youth services in the local area.”

He finished: “I would like to thank all those who have come together to make the ROC Cafe possible, and all those who give up their free time to run the Cafe on a weekly basis. I very much look forward to supporting the project in the future.”

ROC Cafe’s form part of the work of the charity ROC who bring together community groups to open up opportunities for crime and disorder reduction and improved community cohesion. 

For further information, please see:

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP once again shows support for BEST challenge

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has once again thrown his support behind the Basildon Education Services Trust’s (BEST) annual Basildon Challenge for schools.

At a meeting with Director of BEST, Patrick White, Mr Metcalfe was given the rundown of this year’s challenge which sees local primary schools compete in a number of educational challenges throughout the year.

The focus of this year’s challenge is the elements that make up Basildon. The challenges include a Maths and Enterprise challenge which will see the pupils plan a business venture, a literacy challenge where students will rewrite a children’s book to be set in Basildon, and a local study challenge which will result in pieces of work celebrating the town.

Mr Metcalfe has been patron of BEST for over two years and has commended the Challenge to pupils, parents, and BEST school staff. He commented: “It was brilliant to catch up with Patrick and to hear his vision for this year’s Basildon Challenge.  We want to see a generation of young people who are articulate, thoughtful, and ambitious for themselves and the community and the Basildon Challenge provides an excellent means of promoting these values.”

“I hope it will also instil a sense of pride in the local area. Basildon is a fantastic place with so much going for it and I have no doubt that this will be reflected in the children’s work. I would like to thank BEST for their ongoing hard work to drive up educational standards in the local area and I look forward to supporting the Basildon Challenge in whatever way I can.”

Basildon schools have made progress over the past year, both in terms of OfSTED results and in terms of achievement at Key Stages 1 and 2. Viewed by OfSTED as a way of broadening and deepening access to the curriculum in a challenging and exciting way, BEST have no doubt played a key role in this success. 

For further information about this year’s Basildon Challenge, please see:

Stephen Metcalfe MP sings praises of Essex Air Ambulance

Local MP Stephen Metcalfe paid a visit to the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance last week to see firsthand the invaluable service they provide to people in South Basildon and East Thurrock and across Essex.

Unlike NHS services, Essex Air Ambulance is a charity providing a free lifesaving emergency medical service for the critically injured in Essex and Hertfordshire.  It allows specialist doctors and critical care paramedics can be rushed to the scene of incidents such as traffic collisions and cardiac arrests with life-saving support equipment  - the sort of care that is usually found in A&E departments.

Based at Earls Colne near Colchester, the helicopter is never more than eight minutes flying time from any one of the major hospitals in Essex and flies at a speed of 150 miles per hour. The Air Ambulance is deployed on an average of 2-3 times per day. To date the aircraft has flown over 11,800 missions, costing in the region of £250,000 per month to cover all charitable costs and aircraft operations.

Mr Metcalfe was given a tour of the visitor centre and had the opportunity to meet some of the team who keep the Air Ambulance flying. He commented: “It was a privilege to visit Essex Air Ambulance station. They provide such a vital service to the people of South Basildon and East Thurrock, only last month did they attend an incident in Grays. They bring life-saving expertise to people in great need and to do so because the people of Essex give so generously.”

“Essex Air Ambulance is a fantastic charity and I would encourage all those that can to contribute to their invaluable work. I would also encourage the people of South Basildon and East Thurrock to book a tour and a trip to the visitors centre to get a real insight into how the service works, what it does, and into some of the lives they have saved.”

For further information, to donate, or to arrange a visit at the visitors centre, please see:

Stephen Metcalfe MP pays a visit to the local Studio School

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, paid a visit to the New Campus Basildon (NCB) Studio School last week to catch up with staff and pupils.

Located in the heart of Basildon, NCB Studio School is a unique opportunity for 14-19 year olds of all abilities to gain key qualifications whilst gathering work experience, developing life skills, and increasing employability. 

The school works with local employers in Basildon who will be providing workshops, support and real-life work opportunities to help students achieve their full potential. Simultaneously, students also study a dedicated vocational pathway designed to help them progress in to locally identified employment sectors which in Basildon, include health and social care, and sport. The goal is to raise aspirations, unlock students' potential and work towards achieving excellence through encouraging a 'can do' culture which nurtures confident and competent people. 

The Studio School is a new concept in education, which seeks to address the growing gap between the skills, and knowledge that young people require to succeed, and those that the current education system provides.

Mr Metcalfe, who is a great supporter of the local school, commented: “It was fantastic to be back at NCB Studio School. The school is progressing brilliantly and it was great to touch base with both staff and pupils.”

The school caters for a range of educational levels and unlike other schools it is designed to cater for up to 324 students working a 9-5 day. It also identifies key local employment sectors and

Mr Metcalfe added: “The school feels very much like a nurturing work place, instilling a strong work ethic in the students, increasing their employability skills, and offering them great opportunities for progression.”

“I look forward to seeing lots of confident young people graduate with both the skills and confidence they need to thrive in the workplace and I have no doubt that the Studio School is can make this happen.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP supports Opportunity Thurrock

Last week Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, supported Opportunity Thurrock at the Backstage Centre, Purfleet.

Opportunity Thurrock is a borough wide Careers and Further Education Fair produced in partnership with Thurrock schools, further education providers, Thurrock Council and local businesses.

The Fair aims to inspire residents by showcasing the breadth of career opportunities available in Thurrock and to provide practical advice, information, and guidance on applying to jobs and routes into employment.

Over 1500 students made the most of Opportunity Thurrock as well as parents and adults later on in the day.

The local MP commented: “This was a fantastic event showcasing some of the best of Thurrock’s employment opportunities. Visitors to the Fair will have seen the variety of opportunities on offer and I hope they were able to make the most of the advice and guidance from the experts. Most importantly I hope that they left motivated and inspired to make some great career choices.”

“It was brilliant to see so many local organisations collaborating to put on such a great event and I would like to thank all involved in doing so. I am already looking forward to an even bigger and better event next year!”

Monday, 7 October 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP goes to ‘world’s biggest coffee morning’ in aid of Macmillan

Last week Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined local residents at the Pegasus Club, Corringham for a coffee morning raising vital funds for cancer support charity, Macmillan.

Described as the ‘world’s biggest coffee morning’, Macmillan’s largest fundraising event sees people across the UK hold a coffee morning with all proceeds and donations going to the charity. Last year 115,000 people signed up raising a record £15 million, Macmillan are hoping to beat that this year.

Statistics suggest that one in three people will get cancer at some point their lives. Macmillan aim to help sufferers through their experience by providing medical, emotional, practical, and financial support. They also campaign for a better cancer care system.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “There are currently 2 million people living with cancer in the UK. By 2030, this number will have doubled to 4 million. Charities such as Macmillan are a vital source of support, encouragement, and inspiration to cancer sufferers up and down the country and I want to do all I can to ensure that they can continue their work long into the future.”

“Coffee mornings are a simple but extremely effective way of doing this. Not only do they give you the opportunity to meet some truly incredible people but they provide the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your support for a fantastic charity and in doing so, raise vital funds.”

“I would like to thank all those who attended and gave so generously and I would especially like to thank Georgina Clarke for organising the event and inviting me along. It was a great morning and I look forward to supporting the charity more in the future.”

It is not too late to hold a coffee morning. All you need to do is sign up and Macmillan will send you a coffee morning kit, full of everything you need for a successful event. For further information or to find out if there is an event already being held near you visit:

Stephen Metcalfe MP pays a visit to Kingston Ridge Scout Campsite

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, paid a visit to Kingston Ridge Scout Campsite last week to for a tour of the facilities and to see firsthand the issues with the road leading to the site.

The camp site is a first class development owned and managed by Basildon District Scouts, offering an 8 acre oasis just two miles away from the centre of Basildon.  As well as an excellent range of camping facilities, the site also hosts a rifle and archery ranges, a climbing tower, a mega zip wire, and an adventure playground.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “This was my first visit to the Campsite and I was extremely impressed by all that it has to offer. The team managing the site have maintained an unspoiled, natural environment whilst still offering a wide range of outdoor activities that I’m sure anyone would enjoy using!”

Unfortunately, large potholes and an uneven surface can leave users facing a bumpy ride before reaching the campsite. The road leading to the site does not reflect the quality found elsewhere and is in desperate need of some maintenance and repair, something which the local MP has said he will take up.

Mr Metcalfe added: “My thanks go to Steve Little and Cllr Sandra Hillier, chair of Basildon District Scouts, for showing me all that Kingston Ridge has to offer and for also drawing my attention to the issue on the road. It is a shame that such a brilliant site has this issue with access and I look forward to working with them to find a solution to the problem.” 

For further information about the campsite and for booking details, please see:

Stephen Metcalfe MP calls for Cabinet Office Enquiry in cover up of damning hospital report

Stephen Metcalfe, Member of Parliament for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has today written to Sir Jeremy Heywood, Cabinet Secretary, asking that he investigate whether the Civil Service Code was breached in the run up to the last General Election, during the release of a report into failures of care at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital.

Stephen said: “Like many others I was shocked to read reports in the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail this morning relating again to the historic failures in care at our local hospital.”

“In 2009 Inspectors from the CQC discovered worryingly high death rates and evidence of blood on curtains and catheters left on floors. The very least families of patients treated in these conditions deserved was a thorough investigation and the assurance that such failures would not happen again.”

“However, the evidence presented this morning suggests that Andy Burnham, then Health Secretary, and his team, attempted for political gain to manipulate the release of CQC reports into failures of care.”

“Bearing in mind the close relationship between my predecessor and the then Prime Minister, I hope that there was no collusion that denied patients the right to know the truth about the care they might receive.”

“Already several health experts have testified that the Department of Health under Andy Burnham was ‘a denial machine’, in the words of Professor Brian Jarman. A former Chair of the CQC, Dame Barbara Young, has described ‘huge government pressure’ for her organisation not to criticise the Government. The release of these new emails confirms that senior figures within the CQC felt pressure from the Department of Health.

“I have tried to raise this issue on the floor of the House of Commons but was ruled out of order by the Speaker, since when I have remained deeply concerned that civil servants came under undue political pressure from the front bench Labour team and those associated with them, who were nervous about the proximity of the General Election.” 

“Since 2010 there have been many management changes at the hospital and we are all more open and transparent about the challenges faced and I can assure the public that we will address any future failures in a more honest way.”

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP meets with Cllr Rodney Bass to find way forward on Dry Street

Stephen Metcalfe, Member of Parliament for South Basildon and East Thurrock recently met with Cllr Rodney Bass, Cabinet Member for Highways at Essex County Council to discuss the ongoing campaign to see the speed limit in Dry Street dropped to 30mph.

Following a constructive meeting, Cllr Bass reiterated what he had already made clear on many occasions that he did not have the authority to alter the speed limit without embarking on a further consultation.

The current 40mph limit was introduced at the end of August following an earlier consultation undertaken before Cllr Bass was the cabinet member and before the tragic death of Justin Bowman. However, Cllr Bass agreed that he would arrange for a speed survey within the next few weeks and that he would consult again with the Police to identify whether a further reduction in the speed limit or other safety measures should be introduced on Dry Street.  He would also examine the implications of potential additional traffic on Dry Street as a consequence of recent planning applications for new housing development in the vicinity and any conditions imposed by the planning authority thereto.

Stephen Metcalfe, who has been working on this issue together with Basildon Council Leader Tony Ball, said: “I am grateful to Cllr Bass for agreeing to a new survey and fully accept that he has to act both proportionately and within the legal frame work laid down by law.”

Stephen continued: “I hope that following the survey and subsequent discussion with the Police, and taking into account all other factors evidence will emerge to support a 30mph limit, but at this stage we will have to wait and not pre-judge the survey.” 

Stephen finished: “I, Cllr Tony Ball and Cllr Bass are aware of how emotive this issue is and have great sympathy with the family and friends of Justin who was sadly killed in Dry Street earlier this year. Our overriding aim is to ensure our roads are safe for all users and that appropriate speed limits are in place, which I for one hope will be 30mph for Dry Street."