Thursday, 31 January 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP pledges to support people with bowel cancer in South Basildon and East Thurrock

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has signed a pledge committing him to work with patients and the local NHS to ensure high quality and safe care is secured for all bowel cancer patients in his constituency.

At the recent Be Loud Be Clear Parliamentary Reception, Mr Metcalfe heard from both bowel cancer patients and the charity, Beating Bowel Cancer, about the importance of good experience for all patients.

Stephen Metcalfe MP said: “I’m happy to sign this pledge and support the principles in any way I can. This is a devastating disease so I will do all I can to work with the local NHS to ensure they are providing the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to treating bowel cancer patients.”

Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, added: “We strongly believe that patient experience should be an integral part of the NHS and it is vital that better care is secured for all bowel cancer patients.”

“We know of many cases where patients simply aren’t getting the level of care they need. We are therefore pleased to launch our Service Pledge as a measure of how hospitals should be providing a good experience to the bowel cancer patients they treat.”

To find out more about bowel cancer and to read the full Service Pledge, please visit the charity’s website:

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP calls on Basildon Council to support local residents

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has urged Basildon Council to help local residents this year by again freezing Council Tax and by adopting and promoting the Local Authority Mortgage Scheme (LAMS) to help first time buyers get on the housing ladder.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Freezing Council Tax has made a real difference to the people of Basildon and I want to see this continue next year. The Government has made the money available for Council’s to do this and I hope that Basildon Council will continue to maintain the freeze.”

“Households are facing difficult economic times and need help keeping the cost of living down. Under the previous Government, council tax more than doubled to £120 a month and this placed a significant burden on local taxpayers.”

“A freeze in council tax in 2013-14 would represent a real terms cut of around two per cent and a fall of nine per cent in real terms over the past three years."

Stephen also said: “The  Local Authority Mortgage Scheme is a national scheme enables local authorities to work in partnership with residential mortgage lenders, to take advantage of the expertise already available from existing mortgage providers.”

“The combination of relatively high house prices and caution over lending from banks and building societies has meant that many potential first-time buyers, including those on council housing waiting lists or those currently occupying affordable or social housing units, are unable to save a sufficient deposit, even though they could afford mortgage repayments on a typical first home.”

“The LAMS initiative is designed to bridge that gap with an aim that local authorities will be able to both free up affordable or social housing for those that can’t afford to make mortgage repayments and reduce payouts to private landlords and expensive short-term accommodation.”

“The indemnity (or guarantee) provided by the Local Authority means that, although you would still have a 95% mortgage, you could get a lower interest rate than you might otherwise get with smaller deposits. If you can put down more than 5% yourself, this will reduce the size of your mortgage and reduce the amount covered by the Local Authority.”

Mr Metcalfe concluded: “As its stands, the average age of the first time buyer is 35 and I want to see this lowered. This is a fantastic scheme that would give first time buyers the extra help that they so desperately need. I would encourage anyone who is interested to write to Basildon Council asking them to participate and expressing their interest.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP reiterates his support for Frost Estate residents

In a meeting last week Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, reiterated his support for Frost Estate residents seeking to improve local road conditions.

The condition of the roads has long been a concern for local residents who fear that they will continue to deteriorate if action is not taken. Mr Metcalfe attended a meeting of the community steering group to continue to discuss practical ways in which the roads can start to be made fit for purpose.

The steering group consists of a group of local residents who have volunteered to drive the process forward and represent the interests of the Frost Estate. One of their key aims is to ensure residents are kept informed of progress and they are in the process of producing a newsletter that will be delivered to every household.

Mr Metcalfe later commented: “This was a very positive meeting. The steering group are working together to find constructive solutions to a problem that is affecting many people in the community.”

“Whilst I am in no position to impose a solution, I will do all I can to work with the local community and with the steering group to help them to achieve their aims.”

“I always welcome the opportunity to keep in touch with local residents and I look forward to my continuing work with the steering group.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP calls on Thurrock Council to freeze Council Tax

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, is calling on Thurrock Councils to help local residents this year by freezing Council Tax.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Freezing Council Tax has made a real difference to the people of Thurrock and I want to see this continue next year. The Government has made the money available for Council’s to do this and I hope that our local Council will continue to maintain the freeze.”

“Households are facing difficult economic times and need help keeping the cost of living down. Under the previous Government, council tax more than doubled to £120 a month and this placed a significant burden on local taxpayers.”

“It is therefore essential that Thurrock Council listens to its residents and do the right thing by leaving more of peoples own money in their own pockets. To do anything else would show how out of touch with the reality the controlling group are.”

“Over the last two years, the Government has provided grants of around £2 billion to help freeze council tax. The Government will set aside an extra £450 million to help freeze council tax bills in England. The support for local authorities means that taxpayers living in an average Band D home in England could save up to £72 on a five per cent rise in council tax.”

“A freeze in council tax in 2013-14 would represent a real terms cut of around two per cent and a fall of nine per cent in real terms over the past three years.”

“If councils decide to snub the freeze offer and significantly increase council tax, the Localism Act 2011 now provides a new right for local residents to veto such excessive rises through a local referendum.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP: Law change will protect vulnerable people from aggressive bailiffs

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed the news that the law will be changed to give vulnerable people stronger protection from aggressive bailiffs.

Under new laws to clean up the industry, bailiffs will be banned from entering homes when only children are present and at night. New safeguards will prevent bailiffs from using force against people who owe money and they will also no longer have free reign to fix their own fees, as new set costs are brought in.

Until now there has been insufficient legal protection against aggressive bailiffs. These new laws, and a mandatory training and certification scheme which they must pass before going into business, will change that. Businesses will still be able to collect debts fairly, but bailiffs who do not follow the rules will be barred from the industry.

Commenting Mr Metcalfe said: “At the moment there is very little to stop unscrupulous bailiffs from abusing their position and making life a misery for vulnerable people here in South Basildon and East Thurrock. It is terribly stressful to find yourself in debt and the last thing people in that situation need is harassment from debt collectors.”

“We need a system which allows the majority of responsible bailiffs to get on with doing their jobs fairly, but which stops abuse and gives real protection. That is exactly what these changes will create.”

Conservative Justice Minister Helen Grant MP added: “For too long bailiffs have gone unregulated, allowing a small minority to give the industry a bad name. Too many people in debt have had the additional stress of dealing with aggressive bailiffs who often charge extortionate fees.”

“These new laws will clean up the industry and ensure bailiffs play by the rules or face being prevented from practising. They will also make sure businesses and public bodies can collect their debts fairly.”

Monday, 28 January 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP urges primary schools to “Make IT Happy, Make IT Safe”

 Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, is encouraging all primary schools in his constituency to enter the Make IT Happy competition.

Now in its seventh year, the UK wide technology challenge aims to help children use the internet safely and creatively by asking them to create a digital poster that tells other people how to safe on the web.

The competition is run by the Parliamentary Internet Communications and Technology Forum (PICTFOR) and e-skills UK, the Sector Skills Council for Business and Information Technology. It is backed by almost 100 MPs from across the UK.

Staying safe online is an important skill even for primary age children, and the competition helps them learn how to make the most of the internet without putting themselves at risk.

£1,200 will be awarded to each of the regional competition finalists, with the overall winning school taking home an additional cash prize of £4,000. Winners will also be invited to attend an awards ceremony to be held at the Houses of Parliament in London in June 2013.

Mr Metcalfe is keen for local primary schools to get involved: “I encourage all of the local primary schools to get involved with Make IT Happy this year. The competition helps children gain invaluable internet safely skills, and pass them on to other people. I’m confident that pupils will enjoy the chance to work together on such an exciting and relevant project, as well as having the opportunity to win cash prizes for their school.”

The closing date for entries is April 6, 2013. For further information and details of how to enter, visit the website at

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP backs Cameron’s EU objectives

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has expressed his support for the Prime Ministers recent EU announcements.

In a landmark speech, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed that he will not only renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Europe but that he will deliver an in-out referendum once these negotiations have taken place.

The Prime Minister made it clear that he will fight for British interests and called on the EU to respect the differences of individual states and to focus on forming a competitive market place above political harmonisation.

With the ongoing Eurozone crisis, the EU is an organisation undergoing a great deal of change which has raised key questions about its future and Britain’s place within it.

Commenting, Stephen Metcalfe MP said: “This was a very encouraging speech by the Prime Minister. Whilst we need to be within the single market, democratic consent for the EU in Britain is now wafer thin and we must start to bridge the gap between the EU and the British people. The referendum will do this. It will once again give the people a voice on Europe and restore the accountability deficit that is currently crippling the institution.”

“The Prime Minister also made it clear that he will fight for the repatriation of powers from Europe and back into the British Parliament where they rightly belong.”

If David Cameron wins the next general election in 2015, he will start to negotiate a new settlement with our European partners with the view to hold a referendum in 2018.

Mr Metcalfe added: “The Conservative party have listened to the people. They are the only party to promise a referendum and this leaves voters with a clear choice for 2015. If you want a fairer, more competitive and more accountable Europe where British interests are placed at the centre of all negotiations, then the Conservatives are the only party who can deliver.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP stands up to prejudice by signing Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment

This week Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock signed the Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment in the House of Commons. In doing so he pledged his commitment to honouring those who died during the Holocaust.

Holocaust Memorial Day on the 27th January marks the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history.

In the weeks running up to the day, the Holocaust Educational Trust placed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, giving MPs the chance to honour those who were persecuted and killed during the Holocaust and encouraging constituents to work together to combat prejudice and racism today.

In signing the Book of Commitment, Mr Metcalfe paid tribute to those who perished during the Holocaust and honoured the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people about what they endured, through the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Outreach programme.

In the weeks leading up to and after Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. This year, people will also be encouraged to honour those communities that have been destroyed by genocide and reflect on the importance of coming together to oppose prejudice and hatred.

Stephen Metcalfe MP commented: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity to remember the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. I encourage all constituents to mark the day and to join members of community in the fight against prejudice and intolerance.”

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:  “We are proud that Stephen Metcalfe is supporting Holocaust Memorial Day this year. It is vitally important that we both remember and learn from the appalling events of the Holocaust – as well as ensuring that we continue to challenge all forms of hatred and bigotry.”

For further information and to find out about events near you, please visit:

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP champions Engineering Skills in South Essex

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, last week visited aerospace engineering firm, Gardner Aerospace to highlight the importance of engineering and manufacturing to Basildon & Thurrock.

Gardner Aerospace is one of Europe’s largest suppliers of aerospace detailed parts, sub-assemblies and total manufacturing services. The operations plant in Basildon is no exception, providing key components for the A380 air bus, employing over 200 people and offering a comprehensive apprenticeship programme.

Stephen Metcalfe commented: “We are often told that the UK cannot compete with other countries when it comes to engineering and manufacturing, but because of high quality, reliability and our innovative approach, manufacturers in the UK are still some of the best in the world and can compete on an equal basis with anyone, regardless of where they are based.”

“We should all be extremely proud to have a manufacturing company such as Gardner Aerospace. They are suppliers of quality products to some of the best known names in the industry and are a crucial component to Gardner’s global operations.”

Gardner not only takes great pride in the products they produce but also in their workforce who produce them.  Their 200 strong team includes apprentices, interns and provides options for sandwich year students from university.

Mr Metcalfe added: “Gardner have a fantastic apprenticeship programme which helps to nurture young engineering talent, ensuring that we have a solid skills base for the future.”

“In these difficult economic times apprenticeships are a vital means through which we can equip the next generation of engineers. I strongly believe that we should be driving this process. We always need more highly skilled workers and we must ensure that companies such as Gardner have a pool of talent to choose from.”

“One way that this can be achieved is by having a University Technical College in Basildon. I will continue to work to make this happen so that manufacturing in Basildon can continue to grow and thrive and build a strong legacy for generations to come.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes business growth in South Basildon and East Thurrock

Stephen Metcalfe MP has welcomed new figures that show business is on the up in his constituency of South Basildon and East Thurrock.

The number of new businesses in the area rose by 8.2% between 2011 and 2012 with 2,515 enterprises currently in operation. This figure is well above the average for the East of England which saw a rise of 2.7%.

The statistics also show the diversity of the business economy in the area.  The construction industry forms the largest percentage of businesses, followed by professional, scientific and technical, with food services, production and transport also forming a significant share of the total.

Stephen Metcalfe MP commented: “This is fantastic news for South Basildon and East Thurrock. It shows that new enterprises are emerging despite difficult economic times and this can only be a good thing for our economy and for the local area.”

The latest figures have come shortly after the Government announced an extra £30 million boost in start up loans to help start new businesses and create much needed jobs. This brings the total pot for Start-Up loans to more than £110 million over the next three years.

Mr Metcalfe added: “It is extremely encouraging to see that businesses are on the up. I expect that this trend is likely to continue as more and more businesses benefit from the new cash injection to Start-Up loans from the Government.”

“I would encourage any budding entrepreneur in South Basildon and East Thurrock to apply for a Start Up loan to get their business ideas moving.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes Basildon Academy Students to Westminster

On Tuesday 22nd January, Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, welcomed students from the Basildon Academies to the Houses of Parliament.

27 gifted and talented pupils from years 10 and 11 were treated to a tour of both Houses, a talk on how legislation is made from the Parliamentary Education Service and a Q & A with Mr Metcalfe.

In the midst of challenging times for the school, Mr Metcalfe commented on the importance of recognising the achievements of pupils: “The Basildon Academies have been in the headlines a lot lately for the wrong reasons. The visit from the students is a perfect opportunity to remind people that there are many gifted students at the school who deserve positive recognition for their hard work and achievements.”

James Turner, a representative from the Academies, has thanked Mr Metcalfe for the opportunity and for his open and honest Q & A.

Me Metcalfe added: “It really was a pleasure to see the students and I hope that they enjoyed the visit as much as I did.”

Monday, 21 January 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP encourages schools to enter School Council awards

Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has encouraged all local schools to enter the Speaker’s School Council Awards.

The awards, now in their fourth year, aim to recognise the hard work of school councils and the contribution that they make to the school community.

Stephen Metcalfe commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the great work that takes place on our school councils. They provide students with a voice and make a real difference to the life of schools throughout South Basildon and East Thurrock.”

The awards cover four age categories ranging from Infants (4-7) to young adults (16-19) and every entry receives a prestigious certificate from the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. Winners will be invited to the Houses of Parliament to accept the winner’s trophy from the Speaker himself.

Mr Metcalfe added: “Whatever the size of your project, the Speaker wants to hear about it. It would be brilliant to have council’s from Basildon and Thurrock represented in the awards so I have written to all schools in my constituency to encourage all school council’s to get involved!”

To find out more information and to enter your school in the Speaker’s School Council Awards, please visit .

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP supports the Shadyfish Xperience

Stephen Metcalfe MP with Ricky McCarthy and
 Sue Hawkett from the People's Health trust

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, showed his support for the Shadyfish Xperience (TSX) on a visit last week.

TSX is a voluntary organisation founded in 2009 by Ricky McCarthy and Linda Russ who are both former drug and/or alcohol abusers. Wishing to reduce the social isolation that both conditions engender they set up TSX to provide a dignified, long term, safe and fun way to care for fragile and lonely people.

Using art as a means to engage with the community, TSX aims to break down the social, emotional and physical barriers that lead to the isolation of vulnerable people, hoping for stronger communities as a result.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “It was a real privilege to visit TSX. They welcome people from all walks of life to provide a non-judgemental, caring environment that is a lifeline for many in the community.”

TSX take pride in their inclusive ethos, welcoming people with mental health issues including those recovering, or undergoing treatment for substance abuse; people with emotional problems or with none. They also welcome people with criminal justice issues, carers, single parents, the young and the old, the lonely and disabled.

Mr Metcalfe added: “I would like to thank TSX for all of their hard work and for the invaluable service they provide to people in Basildon. This is a brilliant example of people on the ground taking action to make a real difference in the community and I look forward to seeing how TSX will grow and evolve in the future.”

For more information about TSX, or to find out how you can get involved, please visit:

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP rallies behind Pegasus Club

Stephen with Mr Rogocki and Mr Hathaway

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has reiterated his support for the Pegasus club following a visit last Friday.

The future of the club has been uncertain for some time since the collapse of the Coryton oil refinery last year. The visit was arranged to follow up action points that arose at an initial meeting in August. At the meeting last year, Councillors, the Leader of Thurrock Council, other interested parties and local MP Stephen Metcalfe gave their unanimous support to the club in its current format, pledging to what they could to maintain and support the club and this was an opportunity to hear what progress has been made.

Unfortunately, following discussions with Pegasus Chairman, Mr Rogocki and General Manager, Mr Hathaway it appears that the future is as uncertain as ever, especially in light of the clubs land being included in Thurrock Councils recently published core strategy review which suggested the site could possibly be used for an alternative use from its current one.

Pegasus, however, will not be lost without a fight. Mr Metcalfe has pledged to redouble his efforts and has agreed to write to both the Council and the Council leadership asking that they confirm their unwavering support for the club and asking for clarification as to why the site has been included in their strategy review.

He will also be contacting the administrators, Pricewaterhouse Coopers to clarify their position on the potential sale of the site and to reiterate his support for Pegasus.

Commenting, Mr Metcalfe said: “The club continues to have my full support as it has done since August last year. I was very disappointed to see that Thurrock Council have included the club in a recent draft of their core strategy review document – particularly given that they did not notify Pegasus that this was their intention. This I believe has the potential to undermine the future sustainability of the club.”

“The club has been an integral part of the community for decades and I will work hard to support them in any way I can. The value of the site to the community is immeasurable and I hope that all those who committed to support the club last year will do so again and work towards a solution that will reflect this.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP: New traineeships to give our young people the crucial skills for the global race

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock has welcomed new plans to set up a Traineeship programme for young people.

The new programme, announced by Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock, will provide young people aged 16 to 24 with a tailor-made package of support that will give them the confidence, skills and experience to compete in the labour market with more experienced adults. The Government have published a discussion paper inviting views on the policy.

Stephen Metcalfe MP said: “This is great news for young people trying to get a foot on the work ladder. Conservatives in Government are making sure our young people have the skills they need to compete and succeed in work. 870 people in South Basildon and East Thurrock started apprenticeships last year. This traineeship programme will help more young people like them compete successfully and get jobs”.

Matthew Hancock, Minister for Skills, commented: “We want to support everyone in our country to reach their personal best. To do that, we are introducing Traineeships to help young people with the skills they need to get a job, and hold down a job.

“This is vital for our economy to compete in the global race. And it’s a question of fairness. Traineeships will give young people the helping hand and experience they need to compete for Apprenticeships and good jobs.”

Visteon Collapse Fourth Anniversary Demonstration Planned

Stephen Metcalfe MP addressing a previous Visteon Pensioners demonstration

Today in Parliament, Stephen Metcalfe, Member of Parliament for South Basildon and East Thurrock, and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group in support of Visteon Pensioners heard about the Visteon Pensioners Action Group (VPAG) plans to demonstrate outside Parliament to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the collapse of Visteon.

Four years on from the collapse of Visteon, the former Ford parts manufacturer,  MPs from across the country and across the political divide are again calling for Ford to do the right thing and live up to their moral obligations to their former employees, many of whom lost much of their pension when the business collapsed in March 2009.

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

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

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

During previous demonstration MPs have shown their support for the Visteon employees by meeting with them during the demonstration and this year will be no exception.  The APPG will be coordinating with VPAG to try and encourage as many MPs as possible to show their support.

Stephen  said: “I hope that the Visteon Pensioners will one day get the pensions they are rightly entitled to.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP gets creative at The Laboratory launch

Stephen Metcalfe with Lisa Smith at the Laboratory

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, enjoyed letting his creative side out at the launch of The Laboratory last Saturday.

Based in Wat Tyler Country Park, The Laboratory is a new art studio developed by local artist Lisa Smith which aims to provide a space for beginners and experienced artists to work and learn as well as a place for children to develop their skills after school.

A large number of visitors attended the launch to take part in the day’s activities including Mr Metcalfe who participated in the ‘Draw one Take one’ project. Mr Metcalfe’s drawing was taken home by a young boy who replaced it with his picture of five shells.

He commented: “The launch was a great success. The Laboratory provides a great space in which people of all ages can go and get creative in a friendly and relaxed environment. There are a number of classes and workshops coming up and I would encourage everyone to get involved!”

The Make and Matter group starts on Saturday and participants will learn how to make a craft item which they will then be encouraged to reproduce and donate to St Luke’s Hospice Shop to help raise vital funds.

Mr Metcalfe added: “The Make and Matter group is about art having impact in the community. It is an innovative way to raise money for the Hospice and I am sure everyone at St Luke’s will be extremely grateful for the donations.”

Other classes including Moshi Monsters, After School Art and adult beginner’s classes also start soon.  If you are interested in participating, email to book your space. Or for more information please visit:

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP encourages constituents to Build a Bridge for Holocaust Memorial Day

Stephen Metcalfe MP signing the Holocaust Book of Remembrance
on a previous occasion - he will be signing this year book later this month.

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, is encouraging constituents to ‘Build a Bridge’ for Holocaust Memorial Day on the 27th January.

The Memorial Day aims to provide an opportunity for people to pause and remember the millions of people who have been murdered or whose lives have been devastated by the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

The theme for this year is ‘Communities together:  Build a Bridge’, which aims to inspire people to learn from the past, to celebrate difference and to create more cohesive communities at every level.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “It is so important that we remember the millions of people who have lost their lives, and those whose lives are changed forever as a result of genocide. We must learn from past mistakes and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust provide us with a fantastic opportunity challenge hatred and persecution in the UK.”

“I would encourage all my constituents to log on to to make a commitment to start building bridges in the community today.”

There will be a variety of events taking place in Basildon to mark the Memorial Day, including a remembrance service and exhibition which are open to all. For more information please visit:

Stephen Metcalfe MP: Extra £30 million of Start-Up Loans to get South Basildon and East Thurrock growing

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has said he is delighted at the Government’s announcement recently of a £30 million boost to Start-Up Loans which will help to create thousands of new businesses and jobs.

The Prime Minister’s announcement brings the total pot for Start-Up Loans to more than £110 million over the next three years and will see the age range extended to 30 years old, enabling more people to take advantage of this fund.

New figures have shown that in the first three months of the scheme alone, over £1.5 million worth of loans have been approved, helping nearly 500 new businesses get off the ground. The South East has received 19 per cent of the total loans which have been awarded so far.

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomed the boost: “I was delighted to hear the announcement. It shows that this Government is on the side of everyone who wants to work hard and get on and I would encourage any budding entrepreneur in South Basildon and East Thurrock to apply for a Start Up loan to get their business ideas moving.”

“This £30 million boost will make a huge difference to the hundreds of young people in Essex who have always aspired to own their own business, helping new companies get started and bringing jobs and growth to our economy.”

“We are increasing loans to small companies, investing in innovation and cutting corporation tax to make sure Britain can build the best businesses and compete in the global race. This is great news for South Basildon and East Thurrock.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP Reassures Residents on Blood Tests

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has said that there is no need to be alarmed by plans to move out-patient blood test screening to Bedford.

A local newspaper have for some time been campaigning against the move which would see routine blood tests processed at a central laboratory at Bedford Hospital.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I can understand that it is worrying to hear of potential changes to this service but I would like to reassure residents that they are highly unlikely to notice any change in the service they receive.”

“I have discussed the issue at length with Basildon Hospital and can confirm that the in-house pathology lab will still be conducting all in-patient blood tests, accounting for 60% of their work. In- patients will receive exactly the same service as they do now.”

Routine blood tests commissioned by GPs will be collected locally and processed in a central, automated lab in Bedford, which according to Mr Metcalfe should cause no disruption to the service. In urgent or emergency cases, the hospital will still have full facilities and be able to provide any test needed.

Mr Metcalfe added: “For the vast majority of people, there will be no difference in the time taken to get the results back. They will be sent electronically every evening as they are now and the state of the art equipment at Bedford enables more tests to be conducted in a shorter time.”

“This is not a change that will put people’s health at risk. It is a change that will both save money which can be diverted back into front line services and which will provide patients with the best possible service, in the shortest possible time.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP: Helping Households with their Council Tax Bill

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed Government action to help households bring down their monthly bills by spreading council tax payments over 12 months, rather than 10.

Whilst you can already pay over 12 months by direct debit in Basildon and Thurrock, this move will open up other payment methods to local residents.

The changes will lower average band D council tax instalments by an average of £24 per month for 10 months, particularly helping those on fixed incomes, like pensioners.

The new right to choose to pay in 12 monthly instalments comes into effect from April. Local taxpayers just need to contact their council (the local billing authority) to request the change.  Households can continue to pay in 10 instalments over the year, if they wish - there is no obligation to change.

This latest move shows that Conservatives in Government are doing all they can to keep council tax bills down for people who work hard and want to get on in life.

It comes on top of central Government funding to freeze council tax for the third consecutive year, the introduction of local referendums to veto high council tax hikes and the scrapping of Labour’s expensive council tax revaluation.

Commenting Mr Metcalfe said: “Here in Basildon and Thurrock council tax more than doubled under Labour. Conservatives in Government have shown that they will do all they can to keep council tax bills down for families and pensioners. For the third year running the Government are offering to freeze council tax, which would benefit local people if taken up by both Basildon and Thurrock Council”

“Residents in Basildon and Thurrock have already saved £154 and £132 respectively on a Band D bill thanks to the Government’s Council Tax freeze. By making it possible for taxpayers to pay over 12 months rather than 10, households will be able to bring down their monthly outgoings and have more control over when they pay their bills. I urge any household who would benefit from this change to exercise their new right.”

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP stands up for hard working people in Basildon and Thurrock

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, rose on the floor in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s question to stand up for hard working people in Basildon and Thurrock.

During a lively debate, Mr Metcalfe asked the Prime Minister: “Does my right hon. Friend agree that we should be cutting taxes for hard-working people in Basildon and Thurrock, rather than taking money away from them only to then return their own money through tax credits?”

To which David Cameron responded: “My hon. Friend is entirely right. Of course, he will know that in April every working family will see a £220 tax cut as we lift the tax threshold yet further—everyone will benefit from that.”

“In our view, what we should be doing is cutting people’s taxes, rather than taking more in taxes and recycling them through the massive tax credits business. That is what we believe on the Government Benches, and that is what will work for working families.”

Stephen added later: “The last Government made ordinary, hard working people dependent on the state. They taxed them too much only to give them their own money back. This Government believes we should try and avoid taking it in the first place and is committed to spending people’s money responsibly.”

“We have already raised the tax threshold to over £9,000, lifting millions out of tax altogether and are aiming for £10,000 by the next election. I know that this is a difficult time for many people in South Basildon and East Thurrock so I want to see this go even further.” 

Stephen Metcalfe MP encourages schools to ‘Rock the House’

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has written to all secondary schools in his constituency to encourage talented musicians to get involved with this year’s ‘Rock the House’ competition.

Founded by Mike Weatherley MP, Rock the House is a music competition open to all ages celebrating the very best of up-and-coming unsigned British artists and the live music venues that support them. As well as giving a springboard for young talent, the competition aims to raise awareness of intellectual property rights and live music issues amongst Parliamentarians of every political persuasion.

Stephen Metcalfe MP commented: “This really is a fantastic opportunity for talented musicians in South Basildon and East Thurrock whether they are under or over 19 years old. The prize fund includes equipment, master-classes and seminars from industry specialists that money just can’t buy”.

Last year’s winners not only made the most of the prizes but also found themselves performing at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, The infamous Cavern Club in Liverpool and on the Terrace of the House of Commons and Speaker’s State Rooms.

The competition categories include best solo act and band under 19, best band and solo act, best music video and best small venue. Mr Metcalfe will be invited to nominate his favourite act from each category in the constituency who will then be judged by a panel of industry experts and musicians to win a place in the live battle of the bands final.

With patrons including rock legends Alice Cooper, Mark Hoppus, Matt Tuck and Charlie Simpson, MPs are hoping that this year’s competition will be the best yet.

Mr Metcalfe added: “The UK music industry is hugely important to our economy and to the creative culture of our country.  I would encourage all budding musicians to get involved. It would be fantastic to have South Basildon and East Thurrock represented at the final!”

If you would like to find out more, please visit: or follow @RockTheHouseHOC on Twitter.

Stephen Metcalfe MP presents awards to Karate Kids

Stephen Metcalfe MP with Marc Grayston and all the award winners

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, recently had the privilege of presenting the awards at Maru Karate Kai’s end of year awards ceremony.

2012 overall was a fantastic year for Maru Karate Kai. Not only was lead instructor Marc Grayston-kyoshi a London 2012 Olympic torch bearer but the club secured funding from Basildon Council, the Ford Britain Trust and Sportivate in order to continue their great work. The focus of the evening however was entirely on the students and children who have worked hard throughout the year to improve their Karate.

Stephen Metcalfe, who is a proud patron of the club, commented: “I was delighted to be asked to present the awards at the ceremony. Having visited a number of times, I am familiar with their fantastic work and I would like to congratulate all students who were in attendance, and particularly those who won awards for their efforts and achievements.”

Mr Metcalfe presented awards to the student of the year, the best new comer and to the most improved fighter.

He added: “This was a great way to round up an extremely successful year and I would like to thank all those involved in the running of the club. Their hard work, dedication and skill are second to none and they provide an enthusiastic, safe and fun environment in which the students can learn and compete.”

“I very much look forward to seeing how Maru Karate Kai progress and would like to wish them every success for what I am sure will be a great 2013!”

Monday, 7 January 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP urges people to call home heat helpline

Local MP, Stephen Metcalfe, is encouraging people to call a free home heat helpline after new research suggests that around 5700 households in South Basildon and East Thurrock are entitled to help with their energy costs. Nationally, more than one in ten UK households are eligible for help.

The Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99) is a free, impartial and confidential service that connects people and families on low incomes and those in poor health with support which is worth an average of £160. The help available includes grants for insulation, new boilers, discount and rebate schemes.

Stephen Metcalfe MP said: "Many people don’t realise what support is available. Anyone in South Basildon and East Thurrock who is concerned about staying warm should call the Home Heat Helpline and seek advice. I would also ask people to look out for neighbours, friends or relatives who may be in difficulty and make sure that they are aware of the Home Heat Helpline."

People can call the Home Heat Helpline and speak to one of the friendly advisers who will provide advice on reducing energy bills. You can also access the service online by visiting where a new Energy Checker will help to show if you are entitled to help.

Christine McGourty from the Home Heat Helpline also advises people to think about what they can do around the home to reduce their energy consumption: "As the weather gets colder and households turn on their heating, now is the ideal time to remind people that lots of help is available to keep warm, and that the Home Heat Helpline is there to assist them. We're urging anyone on a low income, older people, families with young children and those with long-term health conditions to call the Home Heat Helpline to claim the free help they are entitled to in reducing their bills."
There are also some other simple steps people can take in reducing their energy. For example:
  • Turning your thermostat down by 1 degrees could cut your heating bills by up to 10%, saving you around £100 a year
  • Turn radiators down in rooms which you only use occasionally
  • Switch your lights off when you're not using them
  • Turn appliances like TVs and phone chargers off at the wall rather than leaving them on standby when not in use
  • Replace normal light bulbs with energy efficient ones
  • Regularly defrost your freezer to make sure it's operating at full efficiency
  • Draw curtains over windows at night to provide insulation for the room
  • Move furniture away from radiators and heaters to allow heat to circulate around the room.
If you would like to find out whether you may be entitled to assistance, call the Home Heat Helpline on : 0800 33 66 99 or alternatively, visit:

Stephen Metcalfe MP urges constituents to pack peace of mind when booking overseas trips this January

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock is urging local residents to pack peace of mind when purchasing their holidays this year, by making sure they book an ATOL-protected trip.

The ATOL scheme is there to protect people against the risk of their travel company going bust: ensuring they can continue their holiday and return home safely if the company collapses whilst they are away; or providing refunds if they’re yet to travel.

With over two million ATOL-protected air holidays expected to be sold in the UK during January - the scheme will give holidaymakers in South Basildon and East Thurrock peace of mind that their hard earned holiday will not be lost.

During 2012, Parliament agreed two key changes to the scheme to widen protection and help people understand when they are protected. Holidays known by the industry as ‘Flight-Plus’ are now included in the scheme, as well as traditional package holidays. A ‘Flight-Plus’ booking is one that includes a flight plus accommodation and/or car hire, so long as these separate parts of the holiday are booked with the same company and within a day of each other.

The second change agreed by Parliament in 2012 saw the introduction of the ATOL certificate; offering consumers greater clarity on how their holiday is protected. Anyone who books an ATOL-protected trip will now receive an ATOL certificate from their travel company as soon as they make any payment. The certificate tells them what is protected, who is protecting it and what to do if something goes wrong.

Stephen Metcalfe said: In these difficult economic times, holidays are more valuable than ever and I am pleased that this has been recognised in Parliament through changes to the ATOL scheme. I would hate to think of people losing their money, and their holiday when there are ways in which the risk can be avoided. I would to thank the Peace of Mind campaign for drawing my attention to this issue and hope that people will act on the message.”

Anyone wishing to book an ATOL-protected air holiday can check if a company provides protection by looking for the ATOL logo on their promotional material, or searching the company’s name at More information about what’s covered by the scheme and how the ATOL certificate works is also available from this site.

Mr Metcalfe added: “If you are not booking trips covered by the ATOL scheme such as those without flights or holidays booked directly with airlines, I would also urge you to seek alternative methods of protection. This may be getting insurance, or paying with a credit card. Whatever you do, protect your hard earned holiday!”