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Constituency Profile: Dover

In tonight's constituency profile, we take a look at Dover.

Its famous port has become a major focus for the immigration debate. Little surprise then that the seat is a key target for UKIP.

Last time - in 2010 - Conservative Charlie Elphicke won it from Labour with a majority of 5,274 and the turnout was 70%.

Sangeeta Bhabra went to have a closer look.


Police question six people over suspected terrorism

Police continue to question six people arrested in Dover on suspicion of Syria-related terrorism offences, West Midlands Police said.

The five men and one woman, who are all in their 20s, were detained around 8am yesterday in the departure zone of the south coast port. They are currently being held at a police station in the West Midlands area.

Six arresated in Dover Credit: Press Association

West Midlands Police said four of the men are from Birmingham, while the fifth man aged 26 and a woman aged 23 are of no fixed address. The force said the suspects, who are not a family group and were not accompanied by children, did not pose any immediate risk to public safety. The arrests are part of an on-going investigation. Police are continuing to search a number of addresses in Birmingham.

Lorry driver jailed for trying to smuggle £3.8m of cocaine

Artur Doda jailed for 12 years Credit: Border Force

A lorry driver has been jailed for 12 years after attempting to smuggle 30 kilos of cocaine into the UK.

Border Force officers stopped an Italian-registered lorry at the freight controls in the Eastern Docks, Dover on 16 January 2015. They questioned the driver, Artur DODA, and searched the vehicle and its load of flowers from the Netherlands.

In a purpose built concealment under the cab floor officers found 29 packages wrapped in brown tape. The packages all contained white powder which tested positive to a field test for cocaine.

Forensic tests later showed the cocaine to have an exceptionally high purity which gave the drugs an estimated potential street value of £3.8 million.

Doda, an Italian national born in Albania, was arrested and the case was passed to the National Crime Agency. He was later charged with the attempted drugs importation.

He pleaded guilty at a hearing at Canterbury Crown Court on 2 February and was sentenced there on Friday,13 March 2015.

Border Force officers use high-tech search equipment to combat immigration crime and detect banned and restricted goods that smugglers attempt to bring into the country.

They use an array of search techniques including sniffer dogs, carbon dioxide detectors, heartbeat monitors and scanners - as well as visual searches - to find well-hidden stowaways, illegal drugs, firearms and tobacco which would otherwise end up causing harm to local people, businesses and communities.

Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to drug smuggling should call the hotline on 0800 59 5000.

£3.8m of cocaine found on lorry Credit: Border Force

“This was an excellent seizure and I would like to pay tribute to the Border Force officers who play a crucial role in protecting the UK from illegal drugs every day. We work closely with law enforcement colleagues, including the NCA, to prevent drug trafficking and do all we can to put those responsible behind bars.”

– Paul Morgan, Director of Border Force South East and Europe

Delay in handover of new hospital

The handover of the new Buckland Hospital in Dover has been put back by a month.

The delay is being blamed on last winter's exceptionally wet weather.

Artists impression of the new Buckland Hospital Credit: East Kent Hospitals Trust

Although the contractor had been confident that they would catch up the time lost due to the exceptionally wet winter last year, this has not proved to be the case.

– Keith Bourn, Assistant Director of Strategic Estates

We want to ensure that the services we provide for patients are to the highest standard and felt we had no alternative but to delay the opening of the new hospital to achieve this. Once the builders have completed their work, there is still a great deal of work to be done to make the hospital ready for patients. We need to undertake a deep clean of the building before moving the medical equipment in and setting up the IT, ready for the first patients to be seen in the new purpose built facilities in May.

– Liz Shutler, Director of Strategic Development and Capital Planning


Missing trawler search called off

The search for a missing Belgian-flagged trawler which vanished in the English Channel have been called off.

The 130ft-long vessel disappeared with its four-strong crew on board amid rough seas in the Dover Strait on Wednesday.

A major Anglo-French air-sea operation was launched involving RNLI lifeboats, an RAF helicopter and a French fixed-wing aircraft. Their efforts led to the discovery on Thursday of two bodies on the French side of the Channel, north-west of Boulogne.

Their two crew-mates remain unaccounted for. None of the four people on board the boat were British.

"The French have responsibility for the search and rescue but they are not carrying out any search, and it's unlikely they will do so unless any evidence comes to light. Dover Coastguard continues to make their usual broadcasts to ships asking them to look out for any wreckage or pollution."

– A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)

Port of Dover: 'Customers remain our priority'

Following today's tribunal ruling, the Port of Dover said its priority was to ensure an effective ferry operation for customers.

Tim Waggott, Chief Executive of the Port of Dover said: "Our immediate thoughts are with those who are directly affected by this decision.

"The ruling comes at a time when Europe’s busiest ferry port has just achieved record freight volumes and so our priority is to ensure that our customers continue to be provided with a great level of service and choice.

"We will also work tirelessly on delivering our ongoing major investment plans to provide extra capacity and significant new job opportunities for local people.

"We will continue to consult regularly with all of our major ferry customers, and community groups, in the days and weeks ahead as we plan our way forward to future success.“

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