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One visit to a Kent asylum seeker centre turned a refugee’s life around

A refugee who was taken to a Kent asylum seeker centre after arriving in the UK alone is set to open a restaurant in London.

Sohail Ahmad was just 12 when he arrived in Ashford on a lorry which had travelled from Afghanistan.

He was taken by county council social services teams to the Swattenden Centre in Cranbrook, a venue used to house young asylum seekers up until 2012.

Now aged 32, he’s prepared open an egg-based restaurant – Eggoland – in central London this summer.

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He told KentLive: “Kent was my first home when I came to the UK, the first step I took on UK soil was in Ashford.

“Kent social services played an incredible part in my life in terms of settling me into the country and integrating me into the system.”

Sohail described his time at the Swattenden Centre as a crucial period in his life.

He added: “They had incredible programmes and routines for kids like books and libraries, and people who came to educate the kids, teaching them English, and integrating them into society.”

He looks back fondly on his memories of his time in Cranbrook, particularly the day trips to Brighton, Gillingham and Maidstone, where he was given swimming lessons.

Sohail speaks highly of his social worker Gill Martin and the resident translator who the young boys called Uncle Harshim.

In 2008, after leaving the Swattenden Centre and moving to London, Sohail began his career as an amateur boxer.

It started as a way of protecting himself when he was bullied at school but in 2015 he turned professional, dominating the ring and winning all of his fights bar one so far.

But his latest venture is a pet-friendly, Halal restaurant in Fitzrovia.

His love of food arose whilst he was cleaning dishes in restaurants to earn some money shortly after he arrived in the UK, and the egg-based concept comes from his frustration at never being able to order eggs the way he likes them.

Eggoland will serve a variety of egg-based dishes from egg sandwiches through to vegan options and spicy alternatives, at a reasonable price.

Sohail said: “Coming from an under-privileged background you don’t have the money to be in a high-end restaurant.

“I wanted to make something tasty and trendy, but good value for money.

“Money is a big factor in everything.”

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He hopes success of the Fitzrovia branch will bring him international success in the future.

Alongside boxing and opening restaurants Sohail supports the homeless, visiting train stations near his home in West London to provide them with food.

He has also started a foundation in Afghanistan providing families in need with food rations and other necessities.

He said: “If anyone is reading this with the same background I have, I would love to come and share my story with them and inspire them, motivate them, or give them hope that if you work hard and stay disciplined you can achieve anything.”

References

  1. ^ press here (www.kentlive.news)
  2. ^ KentLive newsletter here (www.kentlive.news)
  3. ^ here (www.kentlive.news)

Lorry stopped in Essex hid £8.5m worth of cocaine ‘on washing machines’

Approximately £8.5m worth of cocaine was seized after a lorry carrying the drugs was stopped in Essex.

Officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) stopped the lorry at the port of Harwich, Essex, on Wednesday (May 12).

The lorry had travelled from the Hook of Holland, and officers found approximately 107 kilograms of the Class A drug hidden in the lorry’s trailer.

The cocaine had been sealed in taped packages, which had been placed in sacks on top of a load of washing machines and tumble dryers.

The driver, 28-year-old Lucas Wesolowski, who lives in Poland, was arrested at the scene and later charged with drug smuggling offences.[1]

He appeared at Colchester Magistrates Court yesterday (Thursday, May 13), and has been remanded in custody until his next court appearance.

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Wesolowski’s will appear at Ipswich Crown Court[3] on 10 June.

NCA branch commander Lydia Bloomfield said: “This was a large amount of cocaine, which would have been worth around £8.5 million if cut and sold on the streets of the UK.

“Losing it will be a big blow for the criminal network likely to be behind this attempted importation – profits which they will not be able to invest in other criminality.

“Working with law enforcement partners like Border Force, we are determined to disrupt the organised crime groups involved in drug supply and protect the public.”

References

  1. ^ drug smuggling offences. (www.essexlive.news)
  2. ^ click here (www.essexlive.news)
  3. ^ Ipswich Crown Court (www.essexlive.news)

Live updates as official statement disputing reports a bridge collapsed released

An official statement has been released by Leeds City Council[1] after reports a section of the Regent Street bridge had collapsed from a crane.

The incident was reported to have happened at Regent Street, Leeds[2], last night and an eyewitness had previously said: “120-tonne section of the A64 bridge replacement has just collapsed on the truck from the crane.”

However, workmen at the site told LeedsLive the lorry had simply broken down after the bridge was lifted onto the back of the truck.

To get the latest email updates from LeedsLive, click here.[3]

The authority has also contested the claims and says the concrete section of the demolished bridge was lifted “safely” onto the lorry however there was a “failure of the trailer.”

References

  1. ^ Leeds City Council (www.leeds-live.co.uk)
  2. ^ Leeds (www.leeds-live.co.uk)
  3. ^ click here (www.leeds-live.co.uk)

Leeds council statement on the Regent Street bridge ‘collapse’

Leeds City Council has issued a statement after reports a section of the Regent Street bridge had collapsed from a crane.

The incident was reported to have happened at Regent Street last night and an eyewitness had previously said: “120 tonne section of the A64 bridge replacement has just collapsed on the truck from the crane.”

However, workmen at the site told LeedsLive the lorry had simply broken down after the bridge was lifted onto the back of the truck.

To get the latest email updates from LeedsLive, click here.[1]

The authority[2] has also contested the claims and says the concrete section of the demolished bridge was lifted “safely” onto the lorry however there was a “failure of the trailer”.

A statement from the council reads: “Essential work to demolish and rebuild the northern section of Regent Street Flyover is currently ongoing.

A section of the bridge collapsed in Regent Street
A section of the bridge collapsed in Regent Street (Image: Submitted)

“Last night, a concrete section of the demolished bridge was being lifted onto a specialist trailer to be disposed of and recycled away from site.

“It was safely placed onto the heavy load vehicle however there was failure of the trailer, causing the piece of bridge to shift from its resting position. It is now being broken up for safe removal and will be cleared from the site by lunchtime today.

“There were no accidents or injuries as a consequence of the trailer system failing and work will continue to demolish the bridge over the coming days.”

References

  1. ^ click here (www.leeds-live.co.uk)
  2. ^ authority (www.leeds-live.co.uk)

‘Migrants’ attack lorry at Calais with iron bars and breeze blocks

British lorry driver tells how his truck was attacked by migrants wielding iron bars and breeze blocks in desperate ‘attempt to cross channel’

  • E.M.Rogers Transport has reported that one of its lorries was attacked in Calais
  • Owner Ed Rogers told the MailOnline the road was blocked by migrants in France
  • Windscreen and door windows of the cab were smashed, leaving driver ‘shaken’
  • Rogers is calling for greater protection for hauliers driving to and from continent

A British haulier has accused migrants in Calais of attacking one of his company’s lorries in an alleged desperate attempt to cross the English channel.

Ed Rogers, owner of E.M. Rogers Transport, told the MailOnline that one of his lorries was attacked in France[2] with iron bars and breeze blocks in a road ambush.

The windscreen and door windows of the truck were smashed, and Mr Rogers said the driver was left feeling ‘very shaken and upset’ by the incident.

A British haulier has accused migrants in Calais of attacking one of their lorries in an alleged desperate attempt to cross the English channel

A British haulier has accused migrants in Calais of attacking one of their lorries in an alleged desperate attempt to cross the English channel

Ed Rogers, owner of E.M.Rogers Transport, told the MailOnline that one of his lorries was attacked in France with iron bars and breeze blocks in a road ambush

Ed Rogers, owner of E.M.Rogers Transport, told the MailOnline that one of his lorries was attacked in France with iron bars and breeze blocks in a road ambush

A British haulier has accused migrants in Calais of attacking one of their lorries in an alleged desperate attempt to cross the English channel. Ed Rogers, owner of E.M.Rogers Transport, told the MailOnline that one of his lorries was attacked in France with iron bars and breeze blocks in a road ambush

‘The Road was blocked with barriers erected by refugees trying to stop our lorry’ just outside the Calais port, Mr Rogers told the MailOnline in an email on Saturday. 

‘Our driver tried to proceed by going around the barrier, at which point he was stopped again, with the lorry attacked with metal bars and rocks.’

Pictures of the lorry, shared by the businessman, showed its smashed windows and broken body work from where he claims it was attacked by the migrants.

‘One of our colleagues attacked with iron bars and breeze blocks in Calais last night by illegal immigrants attempting to cross into the UK. Not the first time and probably won’t be the last,’ the company wrote on Instagram, sharing the photographs.

Two large, circular smashes are seen in the windshield with some holes in the glass, while the door windows appear to have been totally destroyed.

‘Fortunately our driver is safe, but he is very shaken and upset. 

‘In what other industry would someone be exposed to this type of assault whilst going about there daily work?’ Mr Rogers questioned.

The windscreen and door windows of the truck were smashed, and Mr Rogers said the driver was left feeling 'very shaken and upset' by the incident

The windscreen and door windows of the truck were smashed, and Mr Rogers said the driver was left feeling 'very shaken and upset' by the incident

Pictures of the lorry, shared by the businessman, shows its smashed windows and broken body work from where he claims it was attacked by migrants

Pictures of the lorry, shared by the businessman, shows its smashed windows and broken body work from where he claims it was attacked by migrants

The windscreen and door windows of the truck were smashed, and Mr Rogers said the driver was left feeling ‘very shaken and upset’ by the incident. Pictures of the lorry, shared by the businessman, shows its smashed windows and broken body work from where he claims it was attacked by migrants

Mr Rogers, whose company transports rare, valuable and classic cars across Europe on its lorries, called for more action to be taken to protect haulage workers driving in and out of mainland Europe.

‘I know the world is in Pandemic mode,’ he said, ‘but please remember 12 months ago, truck drivers were considered key workers.

The government needs ‘to provide safe passage for our truck drivers coming in and out of Europe, while these desperate people trying to get in to our country put them in danger on a daily basis,’ he added.

The alleged attack on Mr Roger’s company’s lorry would not be the first instance of British hauliers being attacked by migrants in Calais.

Pictured: Migrants run across the A 16 motorway in an attempt to climb into the back of lorries bound for Britain while traffic is stopped upon waiting to board shuttles at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel site in Calais, northern France, on December 10, 2020

Pictured: Migrants run across the A 16 motorway in an attempt to climb into the back of lorries bound for Britain while traffic is stopped upon waiting to board shuttles at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel site in Calais, northern France, on December 10, 2020

Pictured: Migrants run across the A 16 motorway in an attempt to climb into the back of lorries bound for Britain while traffic is stopped upon waiting to board shuttles at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel site in Calais, northern France, on December 10, 2020

In December last year, it was reported[3] that a gang of 15 migrants left a British driver bloodied after smashing the window of his cab with a rock as he waited in a queue.

Andy Couper, 57, was left with blood pouring down his face after being attacked by the gang while waiting in his vegetable-filled lorry to board a ferry at the French port.

He told The Telegraph after the incident how some of the migrants tried to get into his lorry before ‘someone hit the truck’ and the ‘whole passenger window’ was smashed, leaving him injured.

References

  1. ^ Chris Jewers For Mailonline (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  2. ^ France (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  3. ^ it was reported (www.dailymail.co.uk)

Bins missed because lorries can’t fit down lanes

A new recycling system in parts of the South Hams has ran into “teething problems” after repeated missed collections in “harder to reach” areas.

Recycling contractor FCC Environment is now “working hard” to collect bins that have been missed, after its lorries were unable to fit down narrow lanes.

Cllr Keith Baldry, South Hams District Council’s[1] lead member for waste and recycling explained that the new routes were driven to test that each vehicle was allocated correctly, but “as with any new service there are some exceptions that are not identified in advance”.

As a result, FCC is now re-allocating these routes to the appropriate sized vehicle “as soon as possible”.

The contractor is prioritising properties which have had repeated missed collections and asked residents “bear with” crews while missed bins are collected.

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The new system, which sees recycling and food waste picked up every week, has been operating in West Devon “successfully” for the last 10 years.

Some residents have praised the “great” new system as you can recycle more items, but others have pointed out problems with it – with some locals collections running a week behind.

One local said: “For what it’s worth, the new system in the South Hams is great in that you can now recycle tonnes more stuff.

“Yoghurt pots, foil, plastic waste etc, and they’ll take your empty glass too.. So it’s a positive change in theory, but obviously the council is having major trouble actually doing it.”

FCC has asked that residents follow council advice to place their new recycling bins and boxes “in the right places” for collection, to ensure that binmen can carry out collections properly.

A spokesperson for FCC said: “We have been questioned about the vehicles being too large for some areas, the vehicles selected to deliver this service are state of the art recycling vehicles and they are sized to maximise the collection of recycling across the District.

“We do [ask] residents to follow council advice to place their recycling bins and boxes in the right places for collection.

“We appreciate for some that this may mean changes to the way their recycling has been collected previously but we ask for your support on this.”

One of the missed collections in the South Hams
One of the missed collections in the South Hams (Image: submitted)

FCC said it remains confident that “once these hurdles have been overcome”, the service will “deliver all of the benefits promised at the outset”

Another South Hams villager said that their recycling was collected today, a week later than scheduled.

“It looks like [binmen] are having to walk to the hard-to-get places in narrow lanes where the lorry won’t fit,” they said.

“[It’s] not that far, 50 yard maybe, but that is a long way to lug two big green boxes, a bag of plastic waste and a waste food caddy, then take the boxes back to the house.”

Cllr Baldry said that all missed grey and brown bin collections aim to be collected within three working days.

“Whilst we complete the change-over to the new service for all residents, we are sorry to say that we cannot return for any missed recycling,” he said.

“We ask that residents keep it until the next collection. In such cases, residents can put additional recycling out in any sturdy container although the recycling still needs to be sorted in the same way as the other containers.

“Where possible, we ask that residents use recycling banks for items such as glass and paper.”

FCC Environment statement in full

On April 1 2019, FCC Environment began providing all waste, recycling collection and street and toilet cleaning services on behalf of South Hams District Council extending the company’s existing contract with West Devon Borough Council to deliver a range of benefits to residents in both communities.

The waste and recycling service in West Devon, which mirrors the system rolled out in South Hams, has been successfully operating for over 10 years and residents have responded well. The recycling vehicles now in use in South Hams have been in use in West Devon since March 2018.

The system, which was specified by South Hams Council and is considered ‘best in class’ by many other local authorities in England, has been carefully designed to maximise the amount of materials collected for recycling, reducing waste in the grey bin, which is what residents wanted to see. The system also delivers quality recyclate which means the materials will go on to be recycled into new products.

But behind the scenes this system has been far from easy to implement in South Hams and we acknowledge there have been teething problems which have resulted in some residents having missed collections and we are truly sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.

It is important to note however that we will be collecting from nearly 46,000 households on this new recycling service on a weekly basis. In addition we are also collecting general waste and green waste from nearly 47,000 properties on a fortnightly basis – so the levels of missed collections reported represent a small proportion of the total.

It should also be noted that the system was designed on the basis of recycling vehicles filling up once a day and being emptied at the end of the working day but due to the home working implications of lock downs through 2020-21 and residents saving recycling for the new system to launch, the vehicles can fill up, up to 2 to 3 times a day, so they need to travel back to the depot and unload each time but we are making our way through the implications of such unprecedented volumes.

We are working hard to collect from residents that have been missed and to collect from the harder to reach properties on our rounds and we are getting there but we would ask residents, particularly those who have had repeated missed collections, to bear with us at this time.

We have been questioned about the vehicles being too large for some areas, the vehicles selected to deliver this service are state of the art recycling vehicles and they are sized to maximise the collection of recycling across the District. We do residents to follow council advice to place their recycling bins and boxes in the right places for collection. We appreciate for some that this may mean changes to the way their recycling has been collected previously but we ask for your support on this

We are asking residents to bear with us in the coming weeks while these issues with this complex recycling scheme are ironed out and we remain confident that, once these hurdles have been overcome, that the service we have been contracted to deliver across South Hams and West Devon will deliver all of the benefits promised at the outset.

You can find more out about the new recycling service in the South Hams, here[2].

References

  1. ^ South Hams District Council’s (www.plymouthlive.com)
  2. ^ here (www.southhams.gov.uk)