Thursday, 30 January 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP: Students studying core subjects in South Basildon and East Thurrock rises by 50%

Local MP Stephen Metcalfe has welcomed the news that the number of students in South Basildon and East Thurrock studying core academic subjects has risen by 50% since 2010 thanks to the Government’s English Baccalaureate (EBacc).

In 2010 only 23% of pupils in the local area studied for the EBacc, but this rose to 35% in 2013, an increase of 50%. The number of students achieving the qualification has risen accordingly and currently stands at 21%, a rise of 80%.

Pupils achieve the EBacc if they get a C or better in the core subjects of English, maths, history or geography, the sciences, and a language. These are the subjects most valued by universities and employers. This is the first year that the effects of the EBacc are fully reflected in the tables.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Under the last Labour Government the number of students sitting exams in these crucial academic subjects halved. Thanks to this Government’s reforms, the number of young people in South Basildon and East Thurrock studying the core subjects has soared.”  

“This is part of our long-term plan to create an education system that gives young people who want to work hard the skills they need to prosper and fulfill their potential.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP supports Big Energy Saving Week

 Kathy Peach, Manager - CAB Basildon and Stephen Metcalfe MP

Local MP Stephen Metcalfe recently lent his support to Big Energy Saving Week, which will help people in South Basildon and East Thurrock cut hundreds of pounds from their energy bills.

The campaign, which runs from 27 -31 Jan 2013, gives practical advice on how to save money by checking, switching and insulating your home. The Citizens Advice Bureau are running over 500 events to help consumers get advice on how to cut their bills during this week.

Run by Citizens Advice, Big Energy Saving Week is also supported by charities, the Government, and the energy industry who have come together to provide advice to consumers which could save:

  •    An average of £100 by paying by direct debit rather than cash or cheque
  •    Up to £200 for switching tariff or supplier if you have never switched before
  •    An average of £320 from insulation and other energy saving measures

The local MP commented:  “Big Energy Saving Week is a great opportunity to take action and cut your energy costs. I encourage everyone to see what they could do to reduce their bills and make sure they aren’t paying more than they need to.”

“I am pleased with the measures taken by this Government to aid this process. Among other measures we have delivered a £50 saving on energy bills, cut over 400 tariffs to just 4 per supplier, and secured £135 off bills for two million vulnerable households under the Warm Homes Discount.”

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national charity Citizens Advice added: “We know that people are finding it hard to make ends meet. This week we’re helping as many people as possible make sure they are not paying a penny more than they have to for a warm home or to keep the lights on.”

“Through Big Energy Saving Week Citizens Advice is helping consumers to check, switch and insulate.  Citizens Advice Bureaux up and down the country will be out and about to help consumers find better deals, make the most of extra help available and vote with their feet if they can get a better deal.”

To help people take control of their bills Citizens Advice has released ten top tips to help you check, switch and insulate.
  1. Check your bills carefully and read your meter regularly. This will allow you to check how much energy you use and make sure you’re paying the right amount
  2. Talk to your supplier if you think your bill is wrong or if you have problems paying. They’ll be able to give you advice about available support or talk you through repayment options.
  3. If money is tight, contact your local CAB. They can check to see if you are getting the benefits you are entitled to, or if you can get help paying your bills.
  4. Make sure that you’re on the cheapest tariff.  Check with your supplier and use an accredited switching website to see who’s offering the best deal. Tariffs are changing in 2014 so it is important that you are aware of your current deal and any changes your supplier is planning.
  5. Most energy suppliers offer fixed price tariffs, where the price of a unit of energy will stay the same for the length of the deal. These can work out cheaper in the long term and make it easier to budget – although you might need to pay by direct debit and your bills will still go up if you use more energy. 
  6. If you use a pre-payment meter, remember that standing charges will be added daily - even when you aren’t using energy. Check how much they are and keep your meter topped up even during warm weather to avoid unexpected charges
  7. If you use heating oil as your main fuel, buy before winter and see if there are any local oil buying clubs you can join. If not, you might want to start your own.
  8. Make your home energy efficient – insulate lofts and walls, double glaze or use thick curtains to keep the heat in, and get your boiler serviced or replaced to ensure it is energy efficient. There are schemes to help with this.
  9. Save money and energy – don’t leave appliances on standby or leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily. Fix leaking taps and always turn off the light when you leave a room.
  10. Do a home energy check to find out about savings of up to £250 a year on household energy bills. Visit the Energy Saving Trust home energy check at Use this check to get a full report with details of your home’s energy use and the savings you could make. 
Consumers can also get help and advice online at or from their local CAB. You can see a full list of events at

Stephen Metcalfe MP is hopeful for Woodlands School after visiting new state of the art building

Last week Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, visited the new building for Woodlands School and met with the Executive Headteacher, Mrs Karen Kerridge.

Students are due to move in to the new site on 10th February and the local MP hopes that the move will signal a new start for the school.  Mrs Kerridge, will oversee the transition to the new site and is committed to driving up standards at the school which was put into special measures last year.

Mr Metcalfe discussed an action plan with the Executive Head and also spoke to students to get their perspective and to find out about their hopes for the future.

He commented: “I was extremely impressed by the pupils and their desire to succeed. Both students and staff are pressing forward and I am confident that under this new leadership we see improvements in the near future. The new building can only help this process.”

As it currently stands, Woodlands is divided into a cluster of buildings leaving staff and students with lengthy and time consuming walks between lessons. The new building will unite the school, alleviating this problem whilst also providing staff and students with an impressive array of facilities including fantastic science labs, a spectacular gym, and new creative arts facilities that can house the 1500 pupils.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “This £25 million investment is brilliant news for Woodlands. I was extremely impressed by the new site and I very much look forward to visiting it again when it if full of students. The importance of a positive learning environment cannot be underestimated and I hope that Woodlands pupils and staff will be enthused and excited by their new facilities and all that they offer.” 

“Woodlands is going through a difficult time but I am confident that it can emerge as a stronger and better school with the new facility signalling a fresh start.”

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP: huge local investment shows long term plan is working

Stephen Metcalfe MP rose on the floor of the House of Commons yesterday to highlight the billions of pounds worth of investment flowing into South Basildon and East Thurrock and to ask the Chancellor if he agreed that this shows that the Government’s long term economic plan is working.

In the local area alone, £1.5billion is being invested in London Gateway, £500 million is on the table for a new power station, £180 million is being ploughed into Lakeside, and the regeneration of Basildon town centre is about to begin. All bring jobs and growth to South Basildon, East Thurrock and the wider area and are clear signs that the economy is heading in the right direction.

The Chancellor, George Osborne, congratulated the local MP on the work he has done to bring the investment to his constituency, and to create jobs and opportunities for his constituents. 

Mr Osborne stated: “It is important for us to send a message to the world that we are open for business and open to investment, and because we are doing that, we are now a go-to destination for world investment. Can my hon. Friend imagine the impact on jobs and investment in his constituency if we adopted the Labour party’s approach?”

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I am delighted that so many investors are choosing South Basildon and East Thurrock and the wider South Essex area. It will bring more jobs and growth to the local area and this can only be a good thing.”

Recent statistics show that unemployment has already fallen by 20% in South Basildon and East Thurrock since December 2012. Nationwide, growth forecasts have been raised by the IMF which now expects the UK economy to grow 2.4% this year – faster than any other major European economy. 

“Our economy is on the up, growth is rising, and unemployment is falling – clear signs that our long-term economic plan is working. It is vital that we stick to this plan to ensure that this growth is sustained for the benefit of all those living and working in South Basildon and East Thurrock.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP takes a step against prejudice by signing Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment

Last week Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, marked Holocaust Memorial Day by signing the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons.

The book honours those who died during the Holocaust as well as honouring the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people about what they endured.

Holocaust Memorial Day, which fell on Monday 27th January marked the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

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.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau – and is an important opportunity to remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. It’s not too late to mark the day and join members of your community in the fight against prejudice and intolerance.” 

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

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP visits Basildon Academy to see Clare Balding, Samantha Cameron, and others inspire the next generation of women

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, visited the Basildon Upper Academy today to see a host of inspiring women imparting their knowledge and wisdom to girls at the school.

Among those in attendance were Samantha Cameron, writer and broadcaster Clare Balding, former Royal Air Force fast jet pilot, Mandy Hickson, and Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, partner of Dechert law firm.

The event, organised by the charity ‘Inspiring the Future’ aims to break down pervasive gender stereotypes in the job market and to provide girls all over the country with the chance to meet women from all backgrounds and gain first-hand experience into different jobs and routes into them.

The first part of the event saw sixth formers ‘speed networking’ as their guests moved around from table to table. In a next door hall, employers from all walks of life gathered for a careers fair, providing girls at the school with an opportunity to meet women from science, engineering, hospitality, and Government backgrounds to name just a few.

The local MP commented: “75% if women still work in the five Cs of employment: Cleaning, catering, caring, cashiering, and clerical. There is of course nothing wrong with these professions but if girls want to choose maths, science, engineering, or any other career path, they should not be put off from doing so by stereotypes and misconceptions.” 

“As was shown today, women can excel and are excelling in a whole range of careers, from fighter jet pilots to broadcasters. This event was about making this known to the girls, to inspire them, and to encourage them to broaden their horizons. I hope that it did this and that they were encouraged to go on and fulfil their huge potential.”

Monday, 20 January 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP highlights plight of Syrian refugees in Parliament

Stephen Metcalfe MP at the Nizip 2 refugee camp on the Turkey/Syria border
 presenting warm winter clothes to those displaced by the conflict.

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, rose on the floor of the House of Commons today to highlight the plight of Syrian refugees and to call upon the Government to work tirelessly to help resolve the conflict so that Syrians can return home.

The local MP saw firsthand the tragic impact of the civil war after recently visiting a refugee camp in Turkey which offers shelter and accommodation to some of the 2.4million Syrian men, women, and children who have been externally displaced by the conflict.

Well over 150,000 people have been killed in Syria as a result of the fighting with 9 million people having lost their homes. With a population of 22 million, the civil war is one of the worst humanitarian disasters in modern times.

In the debate, the opposition called upon the Government to allow Syrian refugees into the UK. Drawing on his experiences in Turkish refugee camps, Mr Metcalfe suggested to the Minister for Immigration, Mark Harper MP,  that many refugees don’t want to come to the UK they want to return home if only it were safe to do so. He therefore called upon the Government to work tirelessly to bring all sides involved in the conflict together to try and find a resolution that would allow displaced refugees to return to their home country and suggested that support for the most vulnerable refugees was best delivered on the ground; in the region and close to their own community.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “My recent trip to Turkey to visit Syrian refugee camps was a deeply moving one. These people have been forced from their homes through no fault of their own and many who I spoke to want nothing more than to return to their friends and families in Syria. Whilst it is unsafe for them to do so at this time, I am pleased that the Government are committed to helping this process.”

In addition to £600 million pledged in humanitarian aid, the UK Government is working through the UN to secure unfettered humanitarian access inside Syria. This includes securing priority humanitarian routes to ensure convoys can get through safely, humanitarian pauses to ensure aid reaches most war-torn areas and that the sick and wounded can be evacuated safely, and lifting bureaucratic obstacles like customs rules which make it hard for aid workers to deliver swift relief on the ground. 

Mr Metcalfe added: “I would also like to highlight the fantastic work taking place in Turkey. They are working tirelessly to provide a safe haven for refugees coming from across the border and I know the international community are grateful for their efforts.”

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP slams UKIP for Thames Estuary Airport support

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has criticised UKIP for trying to re-write history after they deleted their 2010 manifesto which expressed their commitment to building a major new Thames Estuary airport.

The manifesto, which has now gone missing from the UKIP website, stated their opposition to the expansion of Heathrow, Stansted, and Gatwick “in favour of a major new Hong Kong-style Thames Estuary airport with motorway connections and a high-speed rail service to London, the UK and the Continent.

The manifesto also stressed their support for a high speed railway linking the south and the north – a position they now oppose since the announcement of HS2.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “As I have stressed on numerous occasions, the Thames Estuary is not the place for a new airport and the fact that UKIP support this idea just demonstrates that they do not understand the wider views of the people in South Basildon and East Thurrock.” 

“UKIP have shown that they are inconsistent and opportunistic this is just more evidence that they do not have a set of cohesive policies to deal with the challenges facing the country.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP urges Minister to help bring forward £500m investment in Thurrock

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, today called upon the Minister of State for Energy to help bring forward £500m worth of investment to Thurrock.

Global power generation firm, InterGen, are keen to build a new super efficient, gas fired power station in Coryton. Contracted by Siemens, the new station would bring half a billion pounds worth of investment into the local economy in Thurrock.

InterGen’s Chinese owners and the pension fund operators are however delaying the investment until InterGen has won a ‘contract to supply’ at the capacity auction which is due to take place in December.

The local MP called on the Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP to meet with him and InterGen to try and bring this investment forward, to which the Minster agreed. 

Mr Metcalfe commented: “The sooner Thurrock can benefit from this £500m investment the better. The delay is an unnecessary one and I am delighted that the Minister will meet with me and other interested parties to discuss bringing this forward. I hope that InterGen will reconsider their current position and I look forward to seeing work start on this plant as soon as is feasibly possible.” 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP disappointed at Government response to Lower Thames Crossing Debate

In yesterday’s debate on the lower Thames crossing led by Thurrock MP, Jackie Doyle-Price, Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, made a strong stand against Option C, stressing the damaging impact it would have on the local environment and community.

After congratulating Ms Doyle-Price on securing such an important debate, Mr Metcalfe emphasised the incredible environmental effect of Option C which would divide an established rural community and wreck one of the most significant remaining rural parts of South Essex. He also stated that Option C would not address or help to deliver the full economic potential of South Essex.

Both MPs called upon the Government to scrap the remaining Options and reconsider options D and E which did not form part of the consultation. Whilst the Minister acknowledged that a number of consultation respondents had suggested a similar approach, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Mr Robert Goodwill, stated that the Government will not reconsider previously rejected options.

Mr Goodwill continued to say that the Government are currently considering what further improvements may be needed on the M25, A282, and A13 to ensure that congestion is not pushed to other parts of the M25 when the bottleneck at the crossing is addressed.
Stephen Metcalfe MP commented: “I am disappointed by the Ministers response and maintain my staunch opposition to Option C and its variant. The consequences of this proposal to my constituents are extremely serious and it would not be the right decision for South Basildon and East Thurrock, for South Essex, or for the country as a whole.”
“I am therefore writing to the Minister to make a more comprehensive case for widening of the scope of the proposals to re-include options D and E. I believe the Government needs to look at potential crossings taking into account the wider opportunities for growth in the Thames corridor, not just the impact it would have on the current crossing. If that were to happen I am sure the outcome would be different.” 

“Jackie Doyle-Price MP and I will continue to make our views known to Government and we will not falter in ensuring that our concerns and the concerns of our constituents are heard.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP encourages schools to enter School Council awards

Stephen with last year's winners Lee Chapel Primary School

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

After the resounding success of Lee Chapel Primary School last year, Mr Metcalfe is keen for schools in South Basildon and East Thurrock to be represented in competition.

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. Lee Chapel Primary School won the 7-11 age category last year with their TV news project which saw students come together to write, edit, and present a fortnightly news broadcast to the school.

Stephen Metcalfe MP commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the great work that takes place on our school councils as Lee Chapel Primary School demonstrated last year!”

The awards cover four age categories ranging from Infants (4-7) to young adults (16-19) with every entry receiving 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: “Council’s provide students with a voice and make a real difference to the life of the school. Whatever the size of your school project, the Speaker wants to hear about it and it would be brilliant to have council’s from Basildon and Thurrock represented again in the awards. I have written to all schools in my constituency and hope that they will get involved.” 

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

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes £millions of extra support for pupils in South Basildon and East Thurrock

Local MP, Stephen Metcalfe, has welcomed the news that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in South Basildon and East Thurrock have been allocated £4,853,000 for 2014/15 to help them achieve their full potential. This is good news for pupils and good news for their families.

The Pupil Premium is additional funding given to schools so that they can support their disadvantaged pupils and close the attainment gap between them and their peers. The Government has increased Pupil Premium funding to £1.875 billion in 2013-14, with schools attracting £900 per disadvantaged child, with an additional payment of £53 for primary-aged pupils. In 2014-15, the funding will rise to £2.5 billion, with £1,300 for primary-aged pupils, £935 for secondary-aged pupils and £1,900 for all looked-after children, adopted children and children with guardians.

In total, pupils in South Basildon and East Thurrock will have received £12,443,000. Mr Metcalfe commented: “This is excellent news for disadvantaged pupils and their families in the local area and will give local schools the support they need to ensure that every child, regardless of their background, can fulfil their potential.” 

“This is further confirmation that, despite the economic mess that we inherited from Labour, this Government has found the funds to give support to those who need it most need it.”

Monday, 6 January 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP shows schools that business is good for young people

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, recently welcomed representatives from three local schools to Parliament for a reception organised by the British Chambers of Commerce to show that ‘Business is Good for Young People’.

Held in association with the Industry and Parliament Trust, the reception on the House of Commons Terrace saw people from all over the country come together to celebrate business and discuss solutions to the barriers preventing some young people from finding employment.

South and Basildon and East were well represented with students and staff from Gable Hall School, Basildon Upper Academy, and South Essex College joining with industry leaders to learn more about the links between business and the Chambers of Commerce and young people.

They also had the opportunity to hear from Jo Swinson MP, Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Women and Equalities Minister in the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport, who delivered an inspiring keynote speech.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I was delighted to be able invite every secondary school in South Basildon and East Thurrock to the event and extremely encouraged that the interest was so high. The reception was a perfect opportunity to demonstrate how important business is to young people, to schools, and in training and to discuss practical solutions to youth unemployment.” 

“I would like to thank all those who attended and hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. I would also like to thank the Essex Chamber of Commerce for their generous allocation of tickets.”

East Tilbury level crossings make BBC headlines

At a recent rail summit Stephen Metcalfe produced a report to highlight to stakeholders and the media the problems caused by the level crossings in East Tilbury. 

The BBC followed up on the story with a report which can be viewed by clicking here

Mr Metcalfe commented: "I would like to thank all those who responded to my survey on level crossings in East Tilbury and those who let me know their views by email or letter. I appreciate the strength of feeling that this issue engenders and I am committed to keeping the pressure on to find a solution."