Thursday, 4 May 2017

Visiting new UPS development at DP World

I was pleased to visit the UPS development at their DP World site to view the progress in construction of their brand new UK centre.

I saw first-hand the work on the construction and was informed that the facility will be fully operational in the near future, which is very positive news.

Once operational it will be the first fully automated hub in Britain. It's an exciting development in the area that will bring many new jobs and opportunities to Basildon and Thurrock.

It's also a shining example of the confidence the company has in our post-Brexit local and national economy.

To get in touch about my campaign priorities for South Basildon and East Thurrock please email me at stephen@vote4metcalfe.com. You can also follow me on Twitter: @Metcalfe_SBET.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Football Shirt Friday: Supporting the Bobby Moore Fund with William Hill in Corringham

It was great to visit the William Hill branch in Corringham for the "Football Shirt Friday" initiative, which helps support the Bobby Moore Fund.

The Bobby Moore Fund was set up in 1993 by Stephanie Moore MBE, widow of the England football legend, to raise money to combat bowel cancer and fund live-saving research.

It was the second year in a row that William Hill sponsored Football Shirt Friday and is part of the company's pledge to support local communities.

In Corringham I met Regional Manager Chris Batham and paid a £2 donation to proudly wear my East Thurrock United FC shirt, helping to promote our local club!

During the visit I was shown the mechanisms that William Hill have to encourage responsible betting and also saw the preventative measures in place in the premises.

For a bit of fun the local branch gave me a £50 bet, the proceeds of which will be donated to charity. Naturally I placed it on Tottenham Hotspur to win the Premier League, with odds of 6/1 - a long-shot with Chelsea doing so well but hopefully a winner!

Find out more about the Football Shirt Friday initiative and its work to support the Bobby Moore Fund here.

My call for more powers to address traveller incursions

Ahead of the launch of the Conservative manifesto on 8 May I wrote to the Prime Minister's policy coordinator asking for tougher measures to deal with traveller incursions to be included in the final publication.

I believe more powers for the police to act on their own authority would help protect our local community and environment.

For too long there has been the appearance of one rule for the law-abiding majority and another for travellers who flout existing laws, from trespassing to planning breaches and most recently, in our area, mass fly tipping.

It is clear this must stop.

New powers are needed and the Conservative Government should deliver them so that we all abide by the same laws, suffering the same penalties if the laws are broken.

If I am fortunate enough to be re-elected I will personally take up the issue with the Prime Minister, Home Secretary, and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Working together I believe we can find a proper solution to these ongoing problems.

To get in touch with me about my campaign priorities for South Basildon and East Thurrock please email me at stephen@vote4metcalfe.com.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Parliament approves General Election 2017

Today I was pleased to vote in favour of holding a General Election on 8 June, as it is clear we must secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs, guiding us through Brexit and beyond.

It has been an honour and privilege to serve as MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock since 2010 and I will again put myself forward for election to represent our area, ensuring local people have a strong voice in Westminster.

The General Election will provide a clear choice between strong and stable leadership with Theresa May as Prime Minister or a weak and unstable coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Every vote cast for me, Theresa May, and the Conservatives will count towards strengthening Britain's hand in the Brexit negotiations and delivering our long-term vision for the UK.

The Conservatives' Plan for Britain will ensure a better deal for local people, delivering an economy - and a country - that works for everyone.

I look forward to the chance to take the Conservatives' positive message to the people.


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

My statement following the Transport Secretary's announcement of a new Lower Thames Crossing

I am obviously very disappointed and upset by the announcement today that the Secretary of State for Transport will proceed with Highways England's recommendation for a New Lower Thames Crossing at location C and with route 3.

I feel we made a good argument against Option C and associated routes and was convinced we had built a strong case in favour of sorting out the existing crossing before proceeding with any new crossings.

Despite this I am pleased that the Secretary of State has said he looked closely at our arguments and considered alternatives but regret that he did not fully accept our points and has pushed ahead with what I believe to be a flawed decision.

I still believe Option C and route 3 is a mistake in terms of addressing my constituents' concerns about air quality and congestion and I will not stop making that point until the very last moment.

My main concern continues to be that if and when a new crossing is built, if it fails to solve the actual problem, there will be outrage from me and my constituents. There will be anger that our views were not listened to and we will be asking how we made such an error?

While I am disappointed by the decision and will still fundamentally oppose Option C3, I will want to engage with the Department for Transport and Highways England as they come forward with the detailed designs to mitigate its impact as much as possible.

Highways England have a duty to properly engage with local residents and treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve. I will be working with everyone involved to reduce the footprint of the junctions, crossing and associated roads as much as possible so as to save some of Thurrock's green and pleasant land!

Immediately however, I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport to express our concerns about the decision and call for proper mitigation and consultation. I will also be asking the Secretary of State to meet with local residents to explain how the decision was arrived at so they can understand why our calls for an alternative solution have not been successful.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Meeting Pepper the robot

I enjoyed the chance to visit the Robots exhibition at the Science Museum in London, as part of an event to launch the Science and Technology Committee's new Science Communication and Engagement report.

Pepper is a companion robot with the ability to perceive human emotions and adapt his mood to people he engages with.

Built by Japanese-owned SoftBank Robotics, Pepper is being used for customer relations in over 140 SoftBank Mobile stores in Japan, with other stores set to follow.

I was so impressed with the exhibition and how the Science Museum is helping to inform the public perception of robots. I especially hope that young people with a passion for science and technology see how robotics can be incredibly exciting and also useful: we should see more and more robots like Pepper in our daily lives in future, with what was once science fiction becoming reality in shops, businesses, and homes.

Find out more about the Robots exhibition at the Science Museum here.

Reaction to triggering of Article 50

Yesterday was a momentous day in the history of our country, with the Prime Minister giving EU Council President Donald Tusk formal notification of our decision to leave the European Union.

Following a well-informed and hard-fought referendum, the British public voted to leave the EU in larger numbers than we have seen in any recent General Election.

I am pleased that this decision has been respected and it is now crucial that the Government focuses its efforts on obtaining the best possible deal in the exit negotiations.

By no means will it be an easy process, however I am confident that both sides will want a mutual agreement and for the UK to leave on good terms.

In my role as Chair of Parliament's cross-party Science and Technology Committee, I have already called upon the Government to prioritise the interests of science, particularly around the future of EU nationals in the UK.

I hope that both sides will be able to provide assurances to all our citizens--both EU nations in the UK and UK nationals residing in other EU countries.

I am confident this is achievable and I look forward to contributing to the ongoing debate on our relationship with the EU in Parliament.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Science priorities for Brexit

http://www.scienceinparliament.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Science-Priorities-for-Brexit-Final.pdf
Ahead of the Prime Minister triggering Article 50 and beginning our country's formal exit from the European Union, I launched the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee's 'Science priorities for Brexit' pamphlet which was informed by advice and evidence from the research and innovation community.

I believe that the strength of UK research and innovation can be maintained and grown with the right mix of skilled people, investment, networks and collaboration, and regulation and trade.

The pamphlet details our Committee's position on these various issues and includes immediate actions that are required, what the priorities for the Brexit negotiation should be, and also UK domestic policy requirements.

Read the full version of my statement on the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee website here.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Smashed Project visits Woodlands School

I was pleased to be invited to Woodlands School to watch a presentation by the Smashed Project, an international theatre-in-education programme dedicated to breaking the culture of underage drinking.

The Smashed Project is proven to raise pupils' awareness of the dangers of alcohol and designed to help them make informed decisions about consuming it in the future.

I was especially pleased to see how well all the pupils responded to this important message.

You can find out more about the Smashed Project here.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Safer Sleep Week: Helping new parents receive advice

This week I am supporting baby charity The Lullaby Trust's Safer Sleep Week campaign which aims to raise awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and help new parents receive the proper advice from health professionals on how to sleep their baby safely.

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, while the overall SIDS rates for England and Wales showed a 17% decline since 2013 and a 39% overall decline since 2004, the rates in the East of England have decreased more slowly showing only a 3% reduction since 2004 and remaining higher than the national average.

Adding to this worrying picture is a national survey commissioned by the Lullaby Trust which found that over 38% of parents in the East of England are unsure of one of the most fundamental steps to reduce the risk of SIDS: sleeping a baby on its back for every sleep.

Evidence shows that babies who slept on their back for every sleep are 6 times less likely to die from SIDS than those who sleep on their front or side.

The survey shows 35% of parents in the East of England are unsure whether they can sleep a baby on their front and 39% are unsure whether to sleep a baby on their side. The results are a troubling indication that parents are still not equipped with the information they need to reduce the risk of SIDS and that more needs to be done to ensure all parents in the East of England are aware of life-saving safer sleep advice.

Find out more about Safer Sleep Week here.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Supporting female engineers on International Women's Day

This International Women's Day I'm supporting The Institution of Engineering and Technology's (IET) #9percentisnotenough campaign to boost the number of female engineers.

Through its Young Woman Engineer of the Year aware, the IET is highlighting the work of young female engineers and encouraging more girls to engaging in the crucial STEM subjects.

Find out more about the campaign here.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

My question to the Prime Minister

I was pleased to have the opportunity to ask the Prime Minister a question during the weekly Question Time in Parliament.

Earlier in the week I chaired a seminar at the Royal Society, looking at the priorities for the UK science community as the Government starts the process of our withdrawal from the European Union.

A report of the meeting will be published in Parliament on 21 March and I asked Theresa May to take into account the views of the science community.

You can watch a recording of my exchange with the Prime Minister below:


Thursday, 16 February 2017

Visiting St Teresa's Catholic Primary School

I was glad to visit our local St Teresa's Catholic Primary School, which was recently given a Good rating by Ofsted after previously being placed in special measures.

It is testament to the hard work of all the staff at the school that this turn around has happened.

On the day I visited, the school was coming to the end of its "History Week" and both pupils and teachers had dressed up in an attempt to bring history to life.

It was fantastic to see how well the school is doing and I look forward to visiting again in future.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Supporting World Cancer Day 2017

I was pleased to attend an event in Parliament to show my support for World Cancer Day 2017, which took place on Saturday 4 February.

I met with representatives from seven of the UK's leading charities who joined forces to unite the nation and help people affected by cancer.

Cancer Research UK, Breast Cancer Care, Breast Cancer Now, CLIC Sargent, Anthony Nolan, Bowel Cancer UK, and Marie Curie called for people across the country to show their support by wearing a special Unity Band or making a donation.

Every year World Cancer Day aims to raise awareness of cancer care and support and bring people and charities together to help defeat the disease.

One in two people born in the UK will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime. By wearing a Unity Band and making a donation we can make a real difference and transform millions of lives.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Backing calls to lower the bowel cancer screening age

I attended a reception hosted by the charity Beating Bowel Cancer to hear the case for reducing the bower cancer screening age.

Variations in the screening age across the UK could be leading to thousands of bowel cancer patients in their 50s having a delayed diagnosis.

Beating Bowel Cancer is calling for the screening age in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland to be lowered from the age of 60 to 50, to bring it in line with the screening age in Scotland.

I was interested to hear Beating Bowel Cancer's plans for the future of screening and pledged my support for them.

We all need to do our bit to support any improvements to early diagnosis rates if we are to stop bowel cancer being one of the biggest cancer killers in the country.

Being diagnosed with bowel cancer at the earliest stage offers a 97% survival rate. But without screening, the majority of patients between 50 and 59 might not be diagnosed until a later stage through their GP or A&E. At that point the cancer can be more difficult to treat and if diagnosed at a late state their survival odds could be as low as 7%.

To find out more about bowel cancer please visit the charity's website www.beatingbowelcancer.org or call their Nurse Helpline on 020 8973 0011.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Signing the Book of Commitment for Holocaust Memorial Day

This week I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust's Book of Commitment, pledging my commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust.

It was also an opportunity to recognise the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people.

As the Holocaust moves from living history, to just history, it is crucial that we take the time to remember the victims and also pay tribute to the survivors.

You can learn more about the Holocaust Educational Trust here or follow them on Twitter: @HolocaustUK.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Welcoming focus on science in the Industrial Strategy

I spoke in the House of Commons expressing my support for the importance being placed on science investment and skills development in the Government's new industrial strategy 'green paper.'

I asked the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to seize the moment and make the case across Government for increasing spending on science and technology to 3% of GDP. Many of our competitor nations across the world have made a similar commitment and Parliament's cross-party Science and Technology Committee, which I chair, has called for this to happen in our country.

I also urged the Minister to publish the Government's digital strategy, which again forms an important part of the new industrial strategy.

Watch a recording of my exchange with the Minister below:


Friday, 20 January 2017

Visiting Oxford Brookes University's Cognitive Robotics Laboratory

I was delighted to be invited to visit Oxford Brookes University in my capacity as chair of Parliament's cross-party Science and Technology Committee.


Oxford Brookes is a world-leader in robotics research and I enjoyed learning more about the work that takes place in its Cognitive Robotics Laboratory.

I also had the chance to see the Formula 1 collection at the university, which is situated right at the heart of the UK motorsport valley.

Read more about my visit here.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Questioning the Housing Minister about Dunton Garden Village plans

Following the announcement earlier this month of plans to develop a new garden village in Dunton Hills, I raised my concerns to the Housing Minister that he was not doing enough to consult neighbouring councils.


It is important that the Housing Minister consults more local councils on schemes like the Dunton Garden Village, as although the proposed garden village is formally attached to Brentwood Borough Council, it might actually have a greater effect on the Basildon and Thurrock area.

As the plans currently stand, the development would be built right next to Basildon and West Horndon. Many local residents are rightly concerned about new developments on green belt land and their voices should be heard in the ongoing process.

Through my Parliamentary question I suggested the Minister contact Basildon and Thurrock councils as a matter of urgency to gain their views on the new garden village.

I was pleased that he said he would make more information available and he confirmed that the plans have not yet been finalised.

You can watch a recording of my exchange with the Housing Minister here.