Government must address passport uncertainty – Lockhart

Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has written to the Home Secretary Suella Bravermen to urge Government intervention to mitigate against the impact of Passport Office worker strikes. The DUP representative said the passport debacle of last year must not be repeated for travellers this summer.

By Carla Lockhart MP

Upper Bann

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Carla Lockhart said:

“The Government continues to state that travellers must allow up to ten weeks from the receipt of all documentation, to delivery of a new passport.

However what is unknown is how long it is taking to process receipt of supporting documentation when it arrives at Passport Offices. That is causing anxiety amongst people who have applied in recent days, and are awaiting confirmation that documentation has been processed and the clock has started to tick towards ten weeks.

Last year we had a debacle around passports, whereby I had constituents who missed holidays due to delays in the process. That was with a full compliment of staff, yet now we have 1000 workers engaged in a five week period of industrial action. It is causing a great deal of concern for anyone with plans made to get away this summer.

This is not helped by the lack of appointments available for the Fast Track service. This option, albeit more expensive, must be available to ensure people can get their passport if absolutely necessary for urgent travel. Yet these appointments are like hens teeth right now. It is not good enough.

We must see the Government act to mitigate against this strike. Productive engagement with the unions is necessary if further disruption is to be avoided. A better flow of information is also necessary to ensure the public are fully aware of timescales and processes.

These are the points I have made to the Home Secretary, and I trust it will prompt action.”

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