Ipswich: Town is good at ‘absorbing new people’ says former council leader as latest migration figures revealed

Mike Page aerial photo of Ipswich

Mike Page aerial photo of Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Ipswich has seen a considerable number of migrants arriving in the town since the turn of the century – with changes being seen in particular areas.

The town centre end of Norwich Road and part of Foxhall Road have seen a number of shops and cafes catering for the new communities opening over the last few years.

In Norwich Road there are now Portuguese cafes, supermarkets specialising in eastern European brands, Halal butchers and grocery stores selling middle eastern food.

All are rubbing shoulders with Indian restaurants that have been a feature of the road for decades.

During the period with the highest levels of net immigration – between 2005 and 2008 – Liz Harsant was leader of the borough council. She has lived in Ipswich most of her life.

She said: “The town is very good at absorbing new people. It has done it many times over the years.

“There have been some challenges over the last few years and I know some people have been a bit apprehensive – but I think people recognise that most of the new migrants are hard-working and contributing to society.”

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Ipswich has a history of providing homes for new arrivals over the centuries – starting with Huguenot refugees like the Fonnereau family who arrived in the 17th Century. After the Second World War a significant West Indian community settled in the town – and has integrated well into Ipswich life.

Canon Paul Daltry manages the town pastors and is responsible for the Church of England’s community work in the heart of Ipswich.

He said he felt there had been two major effects of the wave of immigration since the early years of the century.

“There have been changes in the town, but many people feel these have been for the good.

“However there has also been a feeling of anxiety about the changes among some people, and I feel that as a community we have to work to ease any concerns.”

He welcomed the growth of new businesses reflecting different communities along Norwich Road – and felt the economic problems in the EU had contributed to the number of immigrants, especially from countries like Portugal, Spain and Greece.

Borough council leader David Ellesmere felt the town had retained its reputation as somewhere prepared to welcome new residents.

He said: “Ipswich has always been known as a very tolerant town and I think overall people value that side of our community.”

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