There is plenty of support from within the Ipswich community say those who work with asylum seekers after a speech made in Parliament there is "anger" in the town over the Novotel's takeover a year ago. 

The hotel on Greyfriars Road was taken over by the Home Office in October last year. 

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt spoke in Parliament following the summer recess as it nears the anniversary as he called for a timeline of when the Novotel would be returned to original use.

Mr Hunt said: "Anger in Ipswich has not abated."

Ipswich Star: MP Tom Hunt, House of CommonsMP Tom Hunt, House of Commons (Image: House of Commons)

The MP was told the government was "at a point" where it can move forward exiting hotels and will be brought back to the house. 

But, Martin Simmonds, of Suffolk Refugee Support, said there has been many shows of support from the community - from places of worship and sports clubs to community groups and individuals stepping up with "countless acts of kindness".

Mr Simmonds added it was preference that refugees are housed in the community rather than long term in hotels. 

He said: "Those arriving in Ipswich over the past year are fleeing brutal conflicts and human rights abuses in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Eritrea and Sudan.

"They have no safe routes to find protection. Many have endured horrendous experiences and arrive disorientated and with few possessions. We work with these people every day and we hear their stories.

"The local community have been fantastic. Places of worship, sports clubs, community groups and individuals have really stepped up and welcomed people, with countless acts of kindness and support. In return, some of those placed at the Novotel have begun volunteering locally to give something back.

"But people can be forced to wait years for a decision on their asylum claim. Given the majority of those arriving in Ipswich are from countries with very high asylum grant rates, we call for faster decision-making so people can move on with their lives. This is by far the best way to reduce the need for unsuitable accommodation like hotels."

In March this year, more than 100 people attended an event outside the hotel to show their support for refugees in response to 20 anti-refugee demonstrators outside Novotel.

Those living in the hotel have previously told this paper their stories of how they came to Ipswich. 

Asylum seekers are not permitted to work until they have had their substantive asylum interview with the Home Office - without this, no decision can be made on their asylum claim.  

Mr Hunt also told the chamber: "Looking at that hotel, a blaze of life, knowing there are people who broke immigration laws were getting three meals a day at during the cost-of-living crisis causes immense anger." 

At the end of October last year, Novotel's management issued a letter to its staff explaining it had been contracted for use by the Home Office to house asylum seekers, which caused redundancies. 

Ipswich Star: The Novotel hotel in Ipswich, NewsquestThe Novotel hotel in Ipswich, Newsquest (Image: Newsquest)

Ipswich Borough Council had challenged the Home Office for the takeover of the town centre hotel. 

In December 2022, the council boss called for "more clarity" over the government's plans to tackle the asylum backlog and whether an Ipswich hotel would continue to be used to house asylum seekers.