The owner of one of Suffolk's oldest and best-known seaside hotels has provided assurances that the business is not about to close and that staff have been paid.

Zishan Zaman, who co-owns the Orwell Hotel in Felixstowe, said five former members of staff at the Hamilton Road hotel had now been paid the money they had been owed, while also revealing that the hotel - opened in 1898 - was going to become a franchise of Choice Hotels International under its Quality Inns brand.

A further employee is still awaiting payment.

A storm erupted on social media site Facebook over the weekend, with former employees posting on Felixstowe community pages that they had not been paid since before Christmas.

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One former staff member, who did not wish to be named, said: "I gave up Christmas with my family to get them through a tough time. I worked myself sick and all for nothing."

Another said: "Many had to leave because wages were not being paid or delayed. I am devastated this is what has happened."

Mr Zaman said the ex-staff 'would have received notifications' that they would be paid on Thursday (February 15) and the delay had been caused by the time needed to process the payments.

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He dismissed the Facebook claims as 'total rubbish,' although he did accept one allegation that staff had used bedsheets as table cloths, though he said it was a 'one off' and that the bed linen had been washed.

He said: "What is better, to have a table cloth on the table or to have nothing at all? At least there is something there."

He added that as a franchisee of Quality Inns, staff will receive revenue management training, as well as name badges, while improvements would be made to the hotel to bring it up to 'three or four-star' standard.

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Mr Zaman, who has run the hotel since April, said the Quality Inns franchise would not affect the ownership of the hotel.

"These people are not even employed (by us). We still employ 60 people and it was all fully booked last night. They don't care that our business is getting damaged," he said.

He added: "We still have 60 people working there. We are the largest hotel in that area and we are in the process of signing up a franchise agreement."

READ MORE: Suffolk news