Thursday, 27 February 2014

MPs meet with Prime Minister to express opposition to current Lower Thames Crossing proposals

Stephen Metcalfe and Jackie Doyle Price, local Members of Parliament for South Basildon & East Thurrock, and Thurrock respectively, together with other colleagues today met with the Prime Minister to discuss options for a Lower Thames Crossing.

The meeting, set up following a recent Prime Minister Question asked by Stephen Metcalfe, was an opportunity for colleagues with an interest in the Lower Thames Crossing to explain to the PM their concerns about the impact of the current proposed options.

Stephen, who continues to oppose both options, said after the meeting: “It was a constructive meeting, during which the Prime Minister listened carefully to the arguments and agreed to talk to both the Chancellor and the Minister responsible about our various points.”

“While the five of us do not necessarily agree about the problems with Options A and C, we do agree that there are wider considerations such as pushing the problem of congestion elsewhere and promoting  growth that need to be looked at.”

The group told the PM that the current options were designed to address a question posed a decade ago to relieve congestion at the existing crossing. What neither option does is to maximise the huge growth potential that exists in South Essex or Kent.

Jackie Doyle Price said: “I emphasised that the current options would  simply put more traffic on the A13 and the M25.  The Prime Minister is fully aware of the problems caused by gridlock at the Dartford crossing and the need for a new Lower Thames crossing must alleviate that congestion.  We were able to make the case for looking again at options D and E which would facilitate the construction of a new outer ring to complement the M25." 

Also in attendance were the three Members of Parliament from Kent, Tracey Crouch, Adam Holloway and Gareth Johnson.

Stephen Metcalfe MP: Make a difference to young people and apply for National Express Foundation grant

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, is encouraging local charities and eligible educational institutions to apply for a slice of £100,000 being made available by the National Express Foundation.

Following the riots in 2011, the Foundation have worked to identify key community issues and now work to tackle them in two ways these by providing funding to those who may benefit from it.

The first funding stream is available to support students with challenging personal and financial circumstances to enable them to access and reap the benefits of further and higher education. The Foundation plans to offer funding to educational institutions which they can be use to help students most in need.

The second stream offers grants to charitable and community groups for projects which support children and young people and promote cross-community cohesion and understanding.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I know there are lots of groups in South Basildon and East Thurrock making a real difference to the lives of young people in the community. This is a great opportunity to develop and build on this work and I would encourage anyone who is interested to apply!” 

You can find out more about the foundation, and how to apply for a grant here:

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

MP delighted with adjudicators decision to save the Deanes school

Stephen Metcalfe, local Member of Parliament for South Basildon & East Thurrock, has today expressed his delight that the adjudicator David Lennard Jones has overturned Essex County Councils decision to discontinue the Deanes School and has backed the school and its Governing body.

Stephen said: “This is great news for the school, for the staff, for the parents, but above all for the students. I want to congratulate all those who fought to save this good school from closure and I want to thank the adjudicator for his wise examination of the evidence.”

“I hope now, parents can have confidence that the school is not going to close and will start to choose it again as one of their options.” 

Finally Stephen said: “I wish everyone at the Deanes School all the very best for the future and hope it will continue to provide a good education and will flourish for years to come.”

Monday, 24 February 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP supports Frost Estate residents referendum call

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock together with representative of the Frost Estate Resident Association, met with Thurrock Council Chief Executive, Graham Farrant, last week to discuss the ongoing issues around the Frost Estate.

The conditions of the roads on the estate have long been a concern for local residents who fear that they will continue to deteriorate further if action is not taken. Mr Metcalfe, who organised a packed public meeting on the issue last year, has been working with residents and supported the establishment of the Frost Estate residents Association (FERA).

During the meeting the local MP expressed his support for FERA’s new 380 strong petition which calls on the Council to hold a referendum on creating a community council. It is now expected that Thurrock Council will start the statutory consultation process required before any vote can take place.

Community Councils, otherwise known as parish council’s, are the first tier of local Government and allow elected representatives to make the voices of local people heard. It is hoped that this would be a vital step forward in securing much needed repairs on roads in the Frost Estate.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “This is a fantastic step forward for Frost Estate residents. The Residents Association have worked tirelessly on this issue and I am delighted that they are one step closer to achieving their objectives.” 

“This has been a problem for decades and I am delighted that we may finally be on a path that will see a sustainable solution achieved. I will continue to work with both Thurrock Council and FERA as this progresses and I look forward to seeing the results of the referendum in the near future.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP praises Pitsea Foodbank

Stephen Metcalfe MP with Basildon Foodbank manager, Victor Oladele, and local volunteers.

After visiting Pitsea foodbank last week, Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has praised the many volunteers who make their work possible.

Run by The Trussell Trust foodbanks helped to feed 346,992 people nationwide in 2012-13 by providing food parcels to those most in need. The Trust partner with local churches and communities to open distribution centres and their goals is to have one in every town.

A complex array of circumstances has led to the need for foodbanks including the rising cost of food and unemployment. The local MP hopes believes one of the solutions lies in increasing employment and hopes that falling unemployment will help get people back on their feet and less reliant on the services provided by foodbanks.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Whilst I am extremely thankful for the work of foodbanks, I want to see a country that has no need for them. One of the keys to this is getting those that can work back into employment. There are already 1.25million more people in jobs since we took office thanks to schemes such as the Work Programme but there is still more to be done.”

“I am pleased that the government is committed to tackling unemployment and I hope that in the long term it may ease some of the burden placed on foodbanks.”

Pitsea foodbank is run largely by volunteers who give up their time to help others whilst also gaining invaluable skills.

The local MP added: “Without volunteers giving out food and working hard to sort and collect it, foodbanks couldn’t function. I would like to thank all those who involved in this process at Pitsea and would like to encourage anyone who is interested in getting involved to do so! They are always on the lookout for new recruits and you could help make an invaluable contribution to those in need.” 

For further information about how you can get involved or to find out more about the foodbank please see:

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP shows support for local Mental Health providers

Stephen Metcalfe MP recently met with local mental health providers to find out more about their work in South Basildon and East Thurrock and to lend his support to their ongoing fight for better provision of mental health services.

Mr Metcalfe met with Essex Mental Health and the Papworth Trust to discuss the current challenges facing practitioners and to strengthen his links with the services.

Across the UK approximately 23% of the adult population and 10% of children and adolescents have a mental health condition each year. Without the right care and support conditions ranging from depression to ADHD can have a devastating impact on people’s lives.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “It is so important that people suffering from a mental health condition can access appropriate care. We all probably know someone with a mental illness and more must be done to ensure that they are treated quickly and in line with physical illnesses.”

“I will continue to work with Essex Mental health and other local organisations to champion this cause and would encourage anyone in South Basildon and East Thurrock who fears they may have a mental illness to seek help from their GPs".

For more information and details of where you can seek assistance, please see:

Monday, 17 February 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP pays a visit to the Lighthouse Furniture Project

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and Thurrock, paid a visit to the Lighthouse Furniture Project (LFP) last week to show his support for their fantastic work.

The LFP prevent reusable items of furniture from going to landfill and instead re-use them to help those in need. Furniture is given at significantly reduced prices and in some instances for free. Any profits made are ploughed straight back into the charity.

The Project also provides volunteering opportunities and work with a range of local agencies to provide support for individuals who have been marginalised through ill health, long-term unemployment, or other life experiences, or anyone who wants to give back to their community.

The Department for Work and Pension’s Wage Incentive Schemes significantly help this process and the charity works hard to link up with training providers so that volunteers can leave with nationally recognised qualifications.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “It was fantastic to visit the Lighthouse furniture project and see the great work they do first hand. They manage to combine the invaluable task of providing furniture to those in need whilst simultaneously giving the volunteers the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to thrive and get back into the workplace.”

“I would like to thank all those involved in the project and I look forward to working with them to build on their work in South Basildon and East Thurrock”. 

For further information about the Lighthouse Furniture Project or to donate unwanted furniture or electrical goods, please see:

Stephen Metcalfe MP and Secretary of State for Health visit improved Basildon Hospital

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, and Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, visited Basildon Hospital last week to ensure improvements are being made and to announce further plans to keep the Hospital on the right track.

The Secretary of State announced that Sir Stuart Rose, former head of Marks & Spencer, will lead a review into how to improve management in the NHS across England, with a particular focus on hospitals that were identified as underperforming in the Keogh report.

Sir Stuart turned round the fortunes of Marks and Spencer and it is hoped he will do the same for the NHS. He will focus on making managers more visible, improving performance, and on attracting and retaining the best leaders.

Mr Hunt took a tour of the hospital with the local MP and spoke to both patients and staff about their experiences at the Hospital.

The Secretary of State praised staff for the improvements made after the Keogh inspection. He commented:  “I had a fantastic afternoon on the paediatric ward and was really impressed by how committed the staff are.”

“The hospital has clearly turned a big corner and is on the road to recovery, and people in Basildon can be really proud of the progress made.”
Mr Metcalfe said: “I was delighted that the Secretary of State had the opportunity to see the great improvements that have made at the Hospital. I am very grateful to all the staff for their tireless hard work and I am confident that it will keep on improving.”

“I am also extremely pleased to see Sir Stuart stepping in to help transform all underperforming hospitals and management across the NHS. He has had great experience at transforming large, complex organisations like Marks & Spencer and will bring a fresh pair of eyes to the situation.”

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP calls on Government to get young people voting

Yesterday Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, asked the Deputy Prime Minister what action he is taking to engage young people with politics and get them voting.

Having championed Bite the Ballot’s National Voter Registration Day last week, Mr Metcalfe is keen to engage with the 4 million young people who under represented and missing from the voting register.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, announced last week that five national organisations and every local authority in Britain will share £4.2 million worth of new resources to maximise registration. In the House of Commons he also told Mr Metcalfe that a new citizenship programme will launch next September which stipulates that pupils in schools should learn about parliamentary democracy and citizenship more widely. 

Mr Metcalfe commented: “This new citizenship programme will provide young people with another opportunity to learn of the importance of politics and of the importance of making their voice heard! Voting is one means of doing this and I would encourage young people who are eligible to register and ensure that they and their peers are represented at the next general election.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP speaks in support of local businesses

Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, recently joined the Essex Chamber of Commerce and local businesses for a breakfast meeting to discuss the economy and challenges facing the business community.

Sponsored by Essex & Suffolk Water, the event saw over 30 businesses come together and hear from a number of speakers including the local MP.

In his speech Mr Metcalfe spoke about his role, highlighting his three key interests in Parliament: jobs, businesses and the economy, science and technology, and education. He went on to speak of the importance of equipping people with the skills they need to harness the potential in South Essex.

He later commented: “It was brilliant to see so many businesses come together and even better to hear of their optimism now that the economy is growing and back on the right track after the mess it was left in by Labour.” 

“We have a lot more work to do but we are definitely heading in the right direction. Small and medium size businesses have been instrumental to this process and I would like to thank all those businesses in South Basildon and East Thurrock, and in South Essex, who have played their part in driving the economy forward.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP has eye opening visit to local opticians

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, visited Goldsmith Webb Opticians in Stanford-Le-Hope last week to find out why regular eye tests are so important in preventing blindness.

1.8 million people in the UK are living with sight loss and this figure is set to increase by 115% to nearly 4 million people by 2050, largely due to the ageing population.

Much of this is preventable through the early detection and treatment of eye problems. Regular eye tests are a simple and practical way to maintain good eye health and look after your eyes.

Commenting on his visit, Mr Metcalfe said: “It was great to visit Goldsmith Webb to find out more about the importance of eye tests. The test is not just a check to see whether you need glasses or not, but is also a means of ensuring your eyes are healthy. It would be a tragedy for anyone to lose their eyesight when it could have been prevented so I would encourage everyone in South Basildon and East Thurrock to get their eyes tested.”

Many groups of people are entitled to free NHS sight tests. These include those aged 60 and over, all children under 16 and those on low incomes. Optical practices are convenient and offer easy access in the local community. You can visit any practice that is either near where you live or where you work. Optical practices can also see NHS patients at times that suit them. 

The Chairman of Essex Local Optical Committee, Kevin Lewis, added: “An eye test can pick up other health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes so they are an important health check for everyone. Many eye conditions such as glaucoma are treatable and in many cases sight loss can be prevented if they are detected early enough.”

Monday, 10 February 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP champions the work of Youth Offending Service

Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has championed the work of the local Youth Offending Service after visiting their new centre last week.

Local Councillor, James Halden, joined Mr Metcalfe to show their support for the Service which has recently moved into the old Corringham Police Station.

The Youth Offending Service is part of the local council and run separately from the police and the courts. They aim to prevent offending and stop reoffending by working with each young person to help them steer clear of criminality.

They also run local crime prevention programmes, help young people at police stations if they are arrested or in court, supervise young people serving a community sentence, and stay in touch with young people if they receive a custodial sentence.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “The Youth Offending Service do fantastic work here in Corringham and up and down country. They offer young people a lifeline and have been very successful if both crime prevention and in cutting reoffending. I would like to thank all those involved for their continued hard work in making this possible.”

The local MP has recently raised the national issue of young offenders with the Government, asking what plans they have to ensure that young offenders leave custody better equipped to avoid a life of crime.

He has been informed by the Ministry of Justice that the Government will be introducing a new pathfinder Secure College in 2017 which will equip young offenders with the skills and qualifications they need to live a life free of crime. The Government are also enhancing education provision in Young Offender Institutions and taking steps to improve the resettlement of young people upon release. 

Mr Metcalfe added: “I am delighted that the Government are taking the necessary measures to cut reoffending among young people nationally as well as locally. Education and training are vital to this and I look forward to seeing youth offending and reoffending fall in the coming years as a result of these measures.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP joins fight against heart disease at Parliament pop-up shop

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, recently showed his support for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) when they revealed their first ever pop up shop in the Palace of Westminster.

Mr Metcalfe met shop staff and volunteers to hear how BHF shops raise vital funds for life-saving research and added his voice to the call for people to ‘Ramp up the Red’ this February.

The BHF are urging the public to Ramp up the Red by wearing something red, hosting a red-themed party, or baking some red-coloured treats. After his trip to the pop-up shop, the local MP has been inspired to join in too.

Mr Metcalfe said: “I am delighted to help raise awareness of heart disease by taking part in Ramp up the Red. I hope the public join me and help to beat a devastating disease which can affect anyone, from babies to grandparents.”

“By popping up in Parliament, the BHF has reminded us of the vital role their shops play in raising funds for life-saving research. I would thank all those involved for making this happen.”

Coronary heart disease is the UK’s single biggest killer, responsible for almost 74,000 deaths in the UK each year, an average of 200 people each day. There are currently 2.3 million people in the UK living with coronary heart disease. 

Mike Taylor, Retail Director at the BHF, said “We wanted to show MPs just how important our shops are – without our shop staff, including 23,000 volunteers across the UK, we simply couldn’t continue our life-saving work.

“It is fantastic to see Stephen Metcalfe MP showing his support and ramping up the red. All the money raised on 7 February will help us truly fight for every heartbeat.” 

For more information about Ramp up the Red or to donate please visit

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP secures meeting with Prime Minister over Option C

Stephen Metcalfe MP responding
 to the Lower Thames Crossing consultation

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has secured a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron after calling on the Government to reject Option A and Option C for a lower Thames crossing today in Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mr Metcalfe told the Prime Minister that the current options on the table limit the ambition of South Essex and the country and do not maximise the potential of Thames Gateway.

David Cameron responded saying that he is of course interested in seeing maximum economic growth and understands the importance of considering all of the issues at stake with the current proposals. He then agreed to meet with Mr Metcalfe and other interested MPs to discuss the crossing in more depth.

The local MP said: “I am pleased that the Prime Minister has agreed to meet with me to discuss this extremely important local issue. An additional crossing in Thurrock would be detrimental to the local area, and I strongly believe that it would not be the best way to serve the country.” 

“Other options must be considered and I will continue to fight for this on behalf of my constituents in South Basildon and East Thurrock.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP encourages young people to Bite the Ballot and register to vote

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, is encouraging young people to register to vote as part of Bite the Ballot’s National Voter Registration Day which falls on 5th February.

Bite the Ballot is a politically-neutral social enterprise on a mission to empower young voters and focuses on encouraging engagement in politics starting with increasing voter registration amongst 16-25 year olds.

Their primary aim is to register and engage the 4,000,000 young people who are currently not registered or represented before the next general election; those who are furthest away from politics. Once engaged, young people will have the power to vote - or abstain - at the next general election in 2015.

From 2014, it will be an annual day of action in which Bite the Ballot’s partners, which include the NUS, Teach First, ASDA, US partners Rock the Vote and hundreds of smaller youth groups, will be involved in activities in schools, universities and local communities. On the day, each partner will have a Bite the Ballot station set up and volunteers will be on hand to get as many people registered and talking about politics as possible.

With the advent of individual electoral registration in 2014, heads of households will no longer register young people to vote which means the UK’s democratic deficit is at risk of increasing. Bite the Ballot is doing something about this on a large scale.

Stephen Metcalfe MP commented: “I am delighted to be supporting Bite the Ballot’s National Voter Registration Day. Young people have the power to make a real difference to politics and we as politicians should do all we can to engage them in this process.” 

“Change isn’t going to happen overnight but I hope that initiatives such as this will inspire people in South Basildon and East Thurrock to register to vote and make their voice heard at the next general election.” 

Stephen Metcalfe MP hails help for high streets

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed measures introduced by this Government to help high streets adapt to changing consumer spending habits.

As part of the Conservatives’ long-term economic plan, the Government are cutting taxes for small businesses to help them create more jobs, as well as introducing a raft of measures to help local firms with their business rate bills including:

  • Small shops, pubs and businesses with a Rateable Value of less than £50,000 will receive £1,000 off their rates bill for the next two years;
  • The annual indexation increase in 2014-15 bills is being capped at 2%;
  • Businesses will be allowed to pay over 12 instalments instead of 10, helping all businesses with their cash flow;
  • To help get empty shops back into use, the Government are introducing a new reoccupation relief that halves rates for 18 months for businesses taking on a long-term empty shop.
  • Businesses such as payday lenders and betting shops will not be eligible for this tax relief.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Having recently visited a number of local independent retailers for Small Business Saturday, I am acutely aware of the challenges facing the high street at the moment. I am delighted that the Government are taking assertive action and know that these measures will make a huge difference to many of the invaluable small shops and local traders we find in our town centres across the country.”

Additionally, the Government have announced that they will be stop over-zealous parking enforcement and unreasonable parking practices; hold consultations on new development rights to help get empty and redundant buildings back in use; and they have called for evidence on cutting red tape in retail.

Stephen added: “I also want constituents to know about the Future High Streets Forum which brings together businesses, academics, and local leaders to look at the challenges facing our town centres and to work with councils to build on what Government has started. These measures show that the Government is backing the high street and I look forward to seeing South and Basildon and East Thurrock reap the rewards of this.”