NEWS » Bradford Italians Betrayed By Rome?

Bradford Italians Betrayed By Rome?

Has Rome abandoned and betrayed Bedford’s Italians?

According to the hundreds of Anglo-Italians who were expected to join the protest on Sunday the 9th of September, the closure of the Sportello consolare in Bedford, announced by the end of the month, is an unfair and unreasonable solution (as the main newspapers reported in England and in Italy).

The protest on the 9th in Bedford is the latest attempt of the community to prevent the closure of the mini consulate, the “sportello consolare”.

Bedford's Italians account for a fifth of the town’s population. The consulate service provided bureaucratic and diplomatic support for decades.

The vice-consulate closed already four years ago and was replaced by a mini-consulate to handle the community's paperwork needs. 

The sportello consolare served not only the local Italians but also those who come from all over eastern England to use it.

The only option available now will be to use the internet or post office or go to London for all the bureaucratic procedures, such as to renew passports or clarify wills.

The problem is that many of the first generation of Bedford’s Italians are too old to travel to the capital or to be able to use the internet. Some of the oldest generation might also have combined pensions because they worked in Italy and in the UK.

The reason for the closure is the intention of the Italian government to ration on its British operations for logistic and economical reasons. Though, this explanation dissatisfies the community who sustains that the sportello consolare brings in more money in passport renewals and other services than it costs to be run.

Moreover, the new Consulate in London, which cost millions of Euros hasn’t been opened yet. It is not even clear where the old archive of Bedford’s consulate (which stores thousands of documents and paperwork of more than 20 thousand families) will be momentarily set up.
MAIE (movimento associativo italiani all’estero) has shown its support to the protest and underlined that moving the consulate to London will cost more than what it will save, considering a loss, for the Italian government of about 800 thousand Euros.

Giulia Lombardo

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