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East Lancs MPs rally on passport fear
HOLIDAYMAKERS have been going to their MPs in panic after apparent delays with their passport applications.
The politicians said staff in their offices had been working overtime to make sure travellers could get their documents before their departure dates.
Graham Jones, who represents Hyndburn and Haslingden, said he had seen four desperate cases so far this summer, when usually there would not be any at all.
He said: “Because of the inefficiencies at the passport office and the cuts they are dealing with, they have created a huge backlog. The passport office is in chaos.
“It is a significant problem.”
“My office staff have been working overtime and miraculously managing to get people passports just hours before they are due to fly.”
Andrew Stephenson, MP for Pendle, said he had also had received requests for help from constituents.
He said: “There are some particular issues this summer.
“There was a family from Fence who will fortunately be on holiday now and there was another case in Colne.
“We have been able to resolve them so far, but it is an issue and it is affecting people.”
Burnley’s MP Gordon Birtwistle said he had also been asked for help from three people struggling with delays in recent months.
The politicians said they intended to raise the problem in the House of Commons last night.
Paul Pugh, chief executive of Her Majesty’s Passport Office, said the department had been experiencing ‘exceptional’ early summer demand for passports which he put down to in part the improving economy and a rise in holiday bookings.
He said: “Staff were brought in immediately to respond to the extra demand. We are operating seven days a week and our couriers are delivering passports within 24 hours of being produced.
“We would remind people of our existing advice to customers: Allow plenty of time when applying for a new or renewed passport as a passport will not be issued until the necessary security checks have been done, and do not book travel until you have received your passport.”
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