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First pasta post election

PUBLISHED: 22:04 28 May 2004 | UPDATED: 04:55 02 March 2010

ENGLISH tea will be replaced by the aroma of frothy cappuccinos as Ipswich pensioners stand aside for the European election's first pasta-post voting system.

ENGLISH tea will be replaced by the aroma of frothy cappuccinos as Ipswich pensioners stand aside for the European election's first pasta-post voting system.

The Age Concern tearoom in Ipswich town hall will go continental for two days next month, when it will be transformed into an Italian polling station.

In a show of European union the OAPs who usually frequent it have agreed to vacate their tearoom, while the ex-pat Italian community have the chance to take part in their homeland voting.

More than 1,000 Italians in Suffolk are entitled be involved in the ballot which will be held on June 11 and 12.

Under EU laws they are able to choose whether they vote for someone standing as a British Member of the European Parliament or a prospective Italian MEP.

The continental co-operation began when the Italian Vice Consulate in Bedford asked Ipswich Borough Council if it could provide a polling station for the elections.

Dr Maria Lucia Corneli, the Italian vice consul who is based in Bedford, said: "Italian nationals can vote from this station in Ipswich. We are very pleased with the location. It is fantastic.

"They can choose whether to vote for an British MEP or an Italian one. It's a law in the European Union which allows those who live in other countries to vote for their member of parliament.

"Italians in Ipswich will have the chance to vote on June 11 from 5pm to 10pm or on June 12 from 8.30am to 8.30pm."

So the polling station can be set up, the Italian Vice Consulate will borrow some of the equipment used for the British EU elections on June 10. However it will be staffing the operation itself on the day .

Dr Corneli said: "We will use the same booths as were used for the local elections. We asked for assistance in the places where we want to place our polling stations and many of them have been very helpful.

"We estimate around 1,100 Italians will have the right to vote, but do not expect all of them to show up because some people who live here will prefer to vote for a British MEP. However we are expecting a few hundred to come along."

Dr Corneli added that prospective voters will have to be registered to vote abroad and should have received electoral certificates from the Italian authorities.

In total 10 stations will be set up across Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. The Age Concern tea room, and the Corn Exchange booking office next to it, will be used as the only polling station in Suffolk.

Dr Corneli stressed Italian nationals who have not received their certificates by June 7 should contact the Vice Consulate in Bedford on 01234 356647 or 326648.

What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

Coming soon in The Evening Star don't miss political editor Paul Geater's analysis of our European elections.

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