Monday, 31 March 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP questions Minister on effectiveness of Badger Cull

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, rose on the floor of the House of Commons today to question the The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson on the effectiveness of the badger cull.

After hearing the Minister’s confirm that he has received the report from the Panel looking at the effectiveness of the badger cull, Stephen Metcalfe proceeded to tell the Secretary of State that it appeared that here in the UK it had been more difficult to achieve the desired results of tackling Bovine TB through a badger cull.

Stephen asked: “Does my right hon. Friend agree that although the badger cull may have played a part in tackling bovine TB in other countries, in the UK it has proved more difficult to achieve our desired result? Will he therefore agree to look at all other options, and accept that if one course of action fails, it is time to look for another?

Mr Paterson responded: “My hon. Friend mentions other badger culls. The most obvious nearby country that has had one is the Republic of Ireland, where the number of cases went down from 44,903 in 1999 to only 15,612 last year. There are clear lessons to be learned from other countries—my hon. Friend is absolutely right—but the circumstances here are not entirely the same. That is why our strategy encompasses a whole range of other activities involving the vaccination of badgers, the vaccination of cattle and a strict cattle movement regime, which has been a key to success in other countries.”

Mr Metcalfe commented: “This is an issue that many people in South Basildon and East Thurrock feel very strongly about and I have received a lot of correspondence questioning the effectiveness of the cull.”

“Bovine TB is undoubtedly an issue that needs tackling but we need a strategy that produces demonstrable results and clear evidence that the problem at hand is being resolved. If culling has failed to produce these results in the pilot areas, then it’s time to rethink the options.”

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP pays a visit to Basildon’s Essex Media Workshop

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, paid a visit to the Basildon based Essex Media Workshop today and has praised their fantastic work.

The Workshop is a registered charity promoting ‘media for all’. This primarily involves offering Level 3 Diplomas in media techniques free of charge to disabled and disadvantaged adults and providing training sessions for schools and colleges in a full broadcast standard studio. They also offer a full range of commercial services including editing, filming, and scripting. A recent project for example involved producing a documentary on the Second World War which was then distributed to schools and libraries throughout Essex.

Mr Richard Gregory, who manages the program, explained to the MP the benefits of studying for the Diploma which include gaining self-esteem and confidence, improving numeracy and literacy, and providing students with transferrable skills that will boost their employment prospects.

Mr Metcalfe met with the Mr Gregory to find out more about their work and to take a tour of the facilities which have recently benefitted from a re-fit.

He commented: “It was fantastic to see the Essex Media Workshop in action. The facilities are brilliant and are put to work in a way that serves the community. I am sure that all those who have utilised the services provide have benefitted enormously and I hope to see it go from strength to strength in the future.” 

To find out more about the charity please visit:

Monday, 24 March 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP gets a grilling from students at Northlands Primary School

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, received a grilling from students at Northlands Primary School when he paid them a visit last week.

As well being given a tour and catching up with the school’s progress, the MP joined the school council for a lively Q & A where he was questioned on a range of topics including education reform, his job as an MP, and what he had done for Basildon.

The students demonstrated a great deal of understanding of current political issues and have been praised by the MP for their depth of knowledge and enthusiasm.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “It was a real pleasure to visit Northlands and to have the opportunity to talk to their school council. They were a real credit to the school and I was extremely impressed by the questions they asked, by their attitude, and by their knowledge of current affairs. It is very clear that they all have bright futures ahead of them!” 

“It was also great to be able to explain a bit about my role as an MP and how I have been working for Basildon.  I hope that the students enjoyed the visit as much as I did and I look forward to welcoming them to Parliament next month for a tour and another grilling!”

Stephen Metcalfe MP lends support to national Fuel Poverty Awareness Day

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, is supporting a national day to raise awareness of the plight of those struggling to heat their homes affordably.

Fuel Poverty Awareness Day takes place on 28 March and is run by the charity National Energy Action. Around 4.4 million households in the UK are estimated to be living in fuel poverty, unable to heat their homes to the level needed to stay warm and comfortable.

Mr Metcalfe said: ‘’Fuel poverty is a serious problem affecting around 10,000 households in Basildon, and Thurrock but there are a range of actions that people can take to make their energy bills more affordable. This includes making your home more energy efficient and checking to see if you are eligible for any discounts on your electricity bills or financial assistance with heating or insulation improvements.”

“I would urge anyone worried about meeting their energy costs to contact the independent Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99.’’

The Government have also taken steps to get energy bills down. As a result the regulator, Ofgem, is now bringing in measures to make energy bills clearer and simpler to ensure that everyone is on the cheapest tariff to suit their needs; green levies have been rolled back from consumers’ energy bills; and from 2014 an annual competition test will be introduced which will look at price, profits, competition, barriers to entry and how easy it is for consumers to get the best deal. These changes will save an average of £50 on household bills and all the major energy companies have confirmed that these savings will be passed onto their customers.

Alongside this, the Government’s Warm Home Discount Scheme will provide over 2 million households, including over 600,000 vulnerable pensioners, with a £135 discount on their electricity bills. 

Maria Wardrobe, Director of External Affairs at NEA said "We welcome the support of Stephen Metcalfe MP to help tackle this problem in South Basildon and East Thurrock. It is vital that anyone working with vulnerable and low-income householders is able to identify and assist those who may be in fuel poverty, and we have launched a new version of our popular Fuel Poverty Action Guide to support them through this process and ensure that help reaches those most in need." 

For further information on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day and to order copies of the Fuel Poverty Action Guide visit For energy efficiency advice and information contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99.

Stephen Metcalfe MP: Apprentices give a £1.8m boost to businesses in South Basildon and East Thurrock

Stephen with apprentices from Selex ES

Local MP Stephen Metcalfe is calling for more local businesses in South Basildon and East Thurrock to take on an apprentice after new research reveals the many benefits of doing so.

The research shows that every time a local company hires an apprentice, their bottom line gets an average boost of £2,009. This happens immediately, while the apprentice is being trained, and represents the benefit after typical wage and training costs for the East of England are deducted.

Last year, 890 people started an apprenticeship in South Basildon and East Thurrock. This means that new apprentices alone provided a local boost of around £1,788,000 in 2012/13.

The number of apprentices has been increasing rapidly. Despite this, surveys show that 60% of small businesses are missing out because they don’t know enough about how apprenticeships work. Many assume that they are difficult to administer and will involve a short-term cost.

The new research was commissioned by AAT, which has pioneered apprenticeships in accounting. Non-traditional areas like accounting now make up the majority of apprenticeships, demonstrating the huge expansion in the range and types available.   

The Chief Executive of AAT, Jane Scott Paul, welcomed the news: “I am delighted that Stephen Metcalfe MP is encouraging more companies to employ an apprentice. Far from being a cost, apprentices bring benefits straight away.

“It’s really important that employers know there are apprenticeships for all shapes and sizes, including those in non-traditional sectors like accounting and law. That’s how apprentices boosted UK firms by £1.8 billion last year.”

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said: “Delivering the best skills is a crucial part of our long-term economic plan for Britain. More apprenticeships mean more opportunities for young people, giving them financial security and Britain a better future.”

Commenting, Stephen Metcalfe MP said: “If they don’t have one already, every local business in South Basildon and East Thurrock should consider employing an apprentice.

“By giving young people a chance, they will also be boosting their bottom line. The benefit here of £1.8m has made a real difference to the local economy, and that’s just from apprentices who began last year. 

“Apprenticeship numbers have now doubled, with the Government making it a key priority. It’s great news for each local apprentice, great for our businesses and great for growth.”

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes a budget for makers, doers, and savers

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has welcomed a budget ‘for makers, doers, and savers’ delivered by the Chancellor today.

The budget contained good news for people up and down country. Key announcements that will help keep money in the pockets of people and businesses in South Basildon and East Thurrock included:

  • An increase in the personal allowance to £10,500 in 2015/16. This will be a tax cut for 25.4 million people.
  • 750,000 children in working families will benefit from Tax-Free Childcare from Autumn 2015
  • 10p rate on savings income has been abolished. 1.5 million low income savers will benefit.
  • Cutting the cost of manufacturing by cutting the cost of energy bills for manufacturers, with targeted support for energy intensive industries.
  • Delivering the most competitive export finance in Europe by doubling the government lending available to exporters to £3 billion and cutting the typical interest rate on it by a third.

There was more good news in the forecasts for the coming years. Growth this year is forecast to be 2.7%, meaning that the economy will be £16 billion bigger than forecast 4 months ago. It is estimated that 1.5 million more jobs will be created in the next five years bringing unemployment down to just 5% and, by next year the deficit will be reduced by a half. This means that by 2018/19 there will be a small surplus in the economy of almost £5.5billon.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “The budget is great news for savers, for families, and also for business and manufacturing. The Government have shown time and time again that they can deliver on the economy and that they are committed to putting money back into the pockets of people up and down the country.” 

“As a result of this budget my constituents will be paying less tax and businesses will have an even better environment in which to thrive. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this budget unfold throughout South Basildon and East Thurrock in the months and years to come.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes local students to Parliament for Voice of the Future 2014

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, welcomed students from Basildon Upper Academy and Woodlands school to Parliament today for the Voice of the Future 2014 science event.

Organised by The Society of Biology, Voice of the Future provides young people with a unique opportunity to quiz MPs from the Science and Technology Committee, ministers, and distinguished scientists on science policy.

Mr Metcalfe wrote to local secondary schools inviting students with an interest in science to represent South Basildon and East Thurrock at the event. Ramy El-Khodary was chosen from the Basildon Upper Academy while Lucy Grunwell proved to be a great ambassador for Woodlands School.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP, opened the proceedings, before questions were posed to a panel of MPs including Mr Metcalfe who championed engineering as a career choice. The Minister for Science and Universities, David Willets MP, also answered questions including one from Basildon’s Lucy Grunwell.

Lucy, showing a great awareness of current debates in science, asked whether the UK is in a position to capitalise on the space revolution. Mr Willets informed the Woodlands student that the UK is among the world leaders in satellite technology and instrument creation, and that space is an industry that the Government are hoping to grow to £30bn in the next decade.

The local MP commented: “This was a fantastic event and I am delighted that both Ramy and Lucy were able to attend. It is so important to get young people excited about science and technology and I hope that they, and all the young people in attendance, came away with a sense that this is an extremely exciting and innovative industry to be involved in.” 

“Both Ramy and Lucy were brilliant representatives of South Basildon and East Thurrock and a great credit to their respective schools. I hope that they enjoyed the experience and that it might have inspired them to consider a career in science.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP sows seeds for War Commemoration Project

Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined artists at the Laboratory and two local primary schools to start work on a memorial that will mark the 100 year anniversary of the First World War.

The memorial will feature a mosaic, designed by Laboratory artist Lisa Smith, depicting the silhouette of soldiers against the backdrop of the Union Jack, which will be surrounded by poppies. The local MP joined children from Vange and Pitsea Primary School’s to start planting the seeds, which once in flower, will provide a very fitting frame for the mosaic.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “This is a wonderful way to commemorate this big anniversary of the Great War. It will provide a poignant reminder to anyone visiting the park of the great sacrifices that were made 100 years ago so that we can enjoy freedom today.”

“It is also vitally important that we communicate this to the children in our community and I was delighted that Vange Primary School and Pitsea Primary School were able to take part.”

The mosaic forms part of a much wider commemorative project being organised by the local MP which currently involves initiatives here in the UK, Germany, and France. 

Mr Metcalfe championed the project in the House of Commons last week saying that it will “see schools, veterans, organisations, sports bodies, clubs and societies in Basildon and its twin towns in France and Germany  come together to create a unique trilingual exhibition.” The exhibition, entitled Never Forget, aims to explore social attitudes both then and now and provide an opportunity to “remember that however dark the hour, there is always hope to be found."

He added: “I am really pleased to be involved with such a fantastic international initiative to mark this important anniversary. I look forward to seeing it unfold in the local area and hope that it will provide people with an opportunity to pause and remember those who gave their lives for our country.”

Monday, 17 March 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP pays a visit to Vange Primary School

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, paid a visit to Vange Primary School last week to catch up with both staff and pupils and to see what the school council had been up to.

The local MP was given a tour by the Headteacher, Mr Rodgers, where he was able to see for himself some of the fantastic work produced by students. He then met with the school council for a question and answer session and to learn about their ongoing work.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “It was fantastic to visit the school and to meet with the school council. I was extremely impressed by their enthusiasm and commitment and also by the standard of work on display as I walked around with Mr Rodgers. Although a relatively small school I can see Vange Primary has big ambitions for both the school and its students.”  

"The school is going from strength to strength and I look forward to seeing how the students progress in the years to come.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP: Clear now that only Conservatives can deliver a referendum on Europe

Ed Miliband has today effectively confirmed that if Labour are in government after the next election they will not give the British people a say on our membership of the European Union.

This admission shows that the only way to get an in-out referendum on Britain’s EU membership is by electing a Conservative government. Only the Conservatives can deliver real change in Europe.

Stephen said: “Our relationship with Europe isn’t working and it needs to change. David Cameron has set out a plan to seek a new settlement for Britain in Europe, and will then let the British people decide in an in-out referendum by the end of 2017.”

“But today Ed Miliband has said that there won’t be a referendum under Labour. The Liberal Democrats won’t have one either and UKIP can’t deliver on their promises.”

“There’s now no doubt that the only way people in South Basildon & East Thurrock can get a say on Britain’s membership of the EU is by voting Conservative.” 

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Today Ed Miliband has made his position crystal clear – there will be no referendum under Labour. Only the Conservatives will guarantee and deliver that referendum. It will only happen if I am Prime Minister.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP meets local winner at the We Made It! awards ceremony

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, met with Gable Hall student Samuel Partridge at the We Made It! awards ceremony in Parliament to congratulate him on winning the local round of the manufacturing competition.

The We Made It! competition encouraged school students up and down the country to submit designs for a new manufactured product to be built. The awards celebrated the innovative spirit of the students who entered from across the country and also saw the introduction of a report which provides guidance on securing a successful future in outstanding innovation in Britain.

Samuel was chosen for his idea and design of a set of headphones that folded and converted into portable speakers. He was awarded with a certificate signed by the local MP and had the opportunity to meet other young participants.  He also saw the unveiling of the prototypes of the products of the 7 overall national winners.

Mr Metcalfe commented: “It was fantastic to finally meet Samuel and to congratulate him on his brilliant design. I hope that he, and every young person in attendance, was inspired and encouraged to pursue their interest in manufacturing and engineering.” 

“I hope that next year’s competition will be even bigger and better in South Basildon and East Thurrock and I look forward to welcoming another budding young designer to Parliament next year.”

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP supports the Great British Switch

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has signed Early Day Motion (EDM) 1113 in support of the Great British Switch campaign.

The Mirror has teamed up with price comparison website to call on the energy giants to scrap pricey penalty fees. Millions of families on fixed price deals are prevented from switching to a new supplier by hefty exit charges.

The Great British Switch is calling on firms to waive the charges for one weekend, on March 15 and 16, freeing customers to shop around find the best deal for them. The EDM signed by Mr Metcalfe recognises that this is an extremely concenring issue for the public, commends the campaign and calls on the public to show their support on 15 and 16 March by taking advantage of the offer to switch energy supplier without penalty. 
Currently, the campaign is being supported by EDF Energy and npower and it is hoped that other suppliers will follow suit. 
Mr Metcalfe commented: “It’s time for all the Big Six to start opening up this dysfunctional market and free consumers by supporting the Great British Switch. I hope that other suppliers will join the campaign and offer the people in South Basildon and East Thurrock a real choice.”

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP: Freedom of movement shouldn’t mean freedom to claim

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, called on the Home Secretary to make a statement about the levels of EU and non-EU migration yesterday in the House of Commons.
The question came soon after the latest release of statistics which show that Government measures have, since 2010, reduced net migration from outside the EU by more than third; cut the number of family visas granted by 37%; and cut the number of student visas granted to non-EU students by almost a third. In addition, more than three quarters of the growth in employment has been accounted for by British citizens.
The Minister for Security and Immigration said: “Our reforms have cut non-EU migration to its lowest level since 1998 and there are now 82,000 fewer non-EU nationals arriving annually than when this Government came to power. Net migration of EU nationals and their family members, who are not subject to formal immigration controls, has doubled over the last year. Across Government, we are working hard to address the factors that draw people to Britain for the wrong reasons."
Whilst non-EU migration has fallen, there is still much concern about EU migration. Mr Metcalfe therefore asked the Minister to comment on remarks made by the German Chancellor Angel Merkel that ‘freedom of movement’ shouldn’t mean ‘freedom to claim’ and that the only the Prime Minister’s plan to reform the EU can deliver this.
The Minister agreed, saying: “Freedom of movement is not and cannot be a freedom to claim benefits. The Government have introduced a series of domestic measures to restrict access to benefits and we are committed to working with our partners to reform the rules on access to benefits, which were designed for a different era and are no longer fit for purpose outlining the importance of the Prime Ministers negotiations and also highlighting measures the Government have already taken to curb the number of EU migrants claiming benefits.”
These measures include the introduction of new powers to limit access to benefits for new jobseekers, some of tightest controls on access to the NHS and social housing in Europe, and new powers to tackle fraud and abuse.
Mr Metcalfe commented: “I am pleased to see non-EU migration falling. The Government’s reforms are clearly paying off and anticipate that these figures will continue to fall.”
“The Government currently has less control over EU migration but are working hard to ensure that once in the country migrants cannot abuse our welfare system. The Prime Minister is the only party leader with a clear plan for tackling this issue even further and I trust that he will go to EU and fight to give Britain more control over its borders.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP flies the flag for Commonwealth Day

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined Basildon Council today to raise the Commonwealth Flag in celebration of Commonwealth Day.

The flag raising was one of many events taking place throughout the Commonwealth to celebrate unity and diversity, and to highlight the work and achievements of the Commonwealth in modern society. The day also serves to promote understanding of global issues, international co-operation, and the work of the Commonwealth’s organisations.

The theme for 2014 is Team Commonwealth which is intended to stress the importance of teamwork and collaboration both within and between Commonwealth countries. It also sets the tone for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later in the year.

The local MP commented: “It was great to join Basildon Council for their Commonwealth flag raising ceremony. It served as a fantastic reminder of the wider global community that Britain are part of and provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate the spirit of teamwork and togetherness that is so important to the work of the Commonwealth.” 

For further information about Commonwealth Day and to find out more about events that might be taking place near you please see:

Monday, 10 March 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP welcomes Basildon student to Parliament for International Women’s Day

Local MP, Stephen Metcalfe, welcomed 17 year old Lea Musisi from the Basildon Upper Academy to Parliament for International Women’s Day (IWD) today.

IWD falls on 8th March and Parliamentarians marked the occasion by inviting young women from their constituencies to shadow them for the day. As well as seeing a House of Commons debate, Lea was treated to a tour of Downing Street and afternoon tea with the Speaker, John Bercow MP.

Lea is currently in year 12 and is studying English, Law, History and Psychology. She commented: “I was fascinated to learn that a lot of the work Stephen does can be from things as national as looking at situations abroad, to trying to get funding to build memorials in our local area of Basildon. It was an inspiring and insightful day and one which I shall remember for a long time to come.”

IWD aims to celebrate the positive contribution women have made and are making to society and to highlight the achievements of women from around the world. Annually, thousands of events are held to serve this purpose and a global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities through to local women's craft markets.

Mr Metcalfe invited a student from the Basildon Upper Academy after the recent ‘Inspiring futures’ event at the school which aimed to inspire women and demonstrate that there is no cap on their potential.

Mr Metcalfe said: “I was delighted to be able to welcome Lea to Parliament for International Women’s Day and it was a very fitting way to build on the Inspiring women event at the Academy. There was a fantastic itinerary and it was a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women both today and throughout history.” 

“I have no doubt that Lea has an incredibly bright future ahead of her and I look forward to seeing what she and other young women in South Basildon and East Thurrock go on to achieve.”

Monday, 3 March 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP takes fight for Little Chalvedon to Planning Inspectorate at public enquiry

Stephen speaking against the proposals at a public meeting last year

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, took the fight for Green Belt land in Little Chalvedon Hall to the Planning Inspectorate last weekend.

The local MP and Basildon Council strongly oppose proposals that would see 750 homes built on Green Belt land and are committed to ensuring that the views of residents, who are vehemently against the proposed development, are heard.

Mr Metcalfe was joined by other concerned community members at a public enquiry to express their views and appeal against any action that would lead to the destruction of much loved green space.

The local MP took to the floor to put forward the arguments against the development and asked the inspectorate to respect and listen to the views of local people and their democratically elected representatives.

He commented: “These proposals fly in the face of localism and are an assault on the democratic processes that are supposed to underpin such decisions. I sincerely hope that the inspectorate will listen and appreciate the strength of feeling against the plans.”

The Inspectorate will now consider all submissions before forwarding their decision to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles. 

Mr Metcalfe added: “In light of the public enquiry I will be writing to the Secretary of State to once again ensure that the views of my constituents are heard. I will also be monitoring any developments very closely and hope that the interests of South Basildon and East Thurrock are protected.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP supports Fairtrade Fortnight in Basildon

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, joined Basildon Borough’s Fairtrade Group last week in the Eastgate Centre to pledge his support for Fairtrade Fortnight.

Fairtrade Fortnight saw the Basildon Fairtrade Steering Group come together to raise awareness of their cause and promote the consumption of ethically sourced goods. This year’s focus was on the fair trade of bananas which, as it currently stands is anything but fair.  Mr Metcalfe signed a petition to change this and is encouraging his constituents to do likewise.

He said: “In an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, it has never been so important to ensure that the things we consume in the UK are produced ethically and sustainably. I would encourage anyone interested in achieving this aim to take a small step and sign the petition to make bananas fair.”

Basildon Borough was granted Fairtrade status in 2011 when enough shops and businesses in the local area expressed their support and joined the Council in promoting the importance of ethical trading.

The status is due for review in April and the local MP is keen to see it renewed. He joined the Fairtrade Group at their promotional stand last Sunday to help champion their message and encourage local passersby to do the same.

Mr Metcalfe added: “It is fantastic to have a group of people in the Borough who are committed to seeing Fairtrade flourish in the area. I fully support the work they are doing and have no doubt that it will pay off when Basildon’s Fairtrade status is reviewed next month.” 

To sign the petition to make bananas fair, please visit: