Those living in the Novotel should be given "fair and fast hearings" amid government plans to move those seeking asylum from hotels into new locations, says Suffolk Refugee Support.

Yesterday, October 24, the minister for immigration, Robert Jenrick, announced the government's plans to "exit" the first asylum hotels.  

This will include Ipswich's Novotel, which was taken over by the Home Office in October last year to house asylum seekers. 

Ipswich MP, Tom Hunt, who has been strongly against the use of the hotel for asylum seekers, said yesterday that he is “very pleased” the Novotel is going back to being a hotel for the benefit of the town. 

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

Mr Hunt addressed the chamber on Tuesday around the impact on workers "forced to resign" should be offered their jobs again on better terms. 

He also said: “I hope that very soon the planes will be ready to transport many of those at the Novotel to Rwanda.” 

The Suffolk Refugee Support representative, Martin Simmonds, responded to those words by saying that the government’s plan to remove people to Rwanda would cause fear among them and said that this idea “unlawful”. 

He added: “We think it is wrong to directly hold the threat of something unlawful over vulnerable people.”

Ipswich Star: An asylum seeker who was accommodated in Novotel, NewsquestAn asylum seeker who was accommodated in Novotel, Newsquest (Image: Newsquest)

The Suffolk Refugee Support representative said that the organisation would always prefer to see asylum seekers housed in the community, where they can have more independence and a better chance to integrate, rather than being stuck in hotels. 

He added: “They are not allowed to work and receive just £9.58 per week, which is not healthy for anyone. But the use of hotels only came about because of the failure to process people’s asylum claims, leaving them in limbo for months or years on end.” 

Mr Simmonds said that people who were accommodated at the Novotel last year have been through some “horrendous experiences”.  

“We see people arrive in a state of shock, struggling to process what has happened.  

“People come to our office in the cold in flip-flops and the only clothes they own. We’ve heard their stories, we’ve given them underwear and warm clothes, we’ve put on English classes, helped orientate people to UK life, organised training and volunteering opportunities. 

“These are people from Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Eritrea – all countries with very high asylum success rates. The great majority of them will ultimately be granted protection in the UK.” 

The Suffolk refugee organisation hopes that the asylum seekers will be given “fair and fast hearings” on their claims so they can move on with their lives and start contributing fully to UK society. 

READ MORE: Novotel asylum seekers still waiting for claims

Mr Simmonds added:  “However, shunting them into temporary accommodation elsewhere just as many have started to settle, make community connections and get involved in volunteering here will only cause further harm." 

READ MORE: Everything we know so far about government's plans for Ipswich Novotel

Minister for immigration, Robert Jenrick, said in the House of Commons that the first 50 hotel around the country will begin the “exit” process in the coming days, and the transition is set to be completed by the end of January, with more to follow shortly. 

Ipswich Star: Robert Jenrick, Minister for Immigration, PARobert Jenrick, Minister for Immigration, PA (Image: PA)

Labour candidate Jack Abbott said the announcement was "headline-grabbing gimmicks". 

Mr Abbott said: “The Conservatives have broken our asylum system and continue to waste taxpayers' money on hotels and keep people in limbo because they’ve failed to take responsibility and get a grip of the situation. 

“Returning the Novotel to public use will be welcome news to many, but it doesn’t change the fact that Tom Hunt and the Conservatives have consistently broken their promises and still do not have a plan to clear the backlog.

"Their obsession with headline-grabbing gimmicks, which then fail to deliver, has given criminal gangs a licence to operate, undermining border security and putting lives at risk."

Ipswich Star: Jack Abbott, Labour candidate for Ipswich, NewsquestJack Abbott, Labour candidate for Ipswich, Newsquest (Image: Newsquest)

On Tuesday, the Refugee Council warned that cutting the number of hotels could be a factor in what it described as a developing “homelessness crisis” among migrants.

Chief executive Enver Solomon said: “The cost and chaos of an asylum backlog that has spiralled out of control is a result of gross Government failure leaving people in limbo for years on end.

“In closing hotels we are now seeing a homelessness crisis developing with newly recognised refugees being given as little as seven days before they are evicted from accommodation.”