'I can go on holiday for our wedding anniversary but my husband can't because his passport hasn't arrived'
A couple who should be celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in Turkey now fear their holiday won't go ahead because of a passport hold up. Gillian and Mark Davies, from Swansea, have not been abroad for 10 years so applied at the same time for passports in March.
While Gillian's turned up three weeks later, more than seven weeks on they are still waiting for Mark's passport and are due to go on holiday on Monday. After repeated calls to the Passport Service, the frustrated pair travelled to the Newport Passport Office on Wednesday where they have been told that everything will be done to get it sorted in time.
Gillian said: "It has been so stressful. We both sent off applications on March 24. Mine came back quite quickly, but Mark's has never appeared. When I phoned I was told that the applications had been sent to different offices. Then I was told that his was being processed, but when I phoned back again was told it was still being examined. I seemed to get a different answer every time I called. It was been very stressful. We are going with all our family to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. I was so worried that we went to Newport to speak to someone in person, and they were very helpful."
Gillian and Mark also enlisted the help of their local MP Carolyn Harris, who is setting up a passport surgery this week because so many constituents have been in touch with concerns. Her constituency office says they have received an influx of concerns from her regarding delays to passport applications threatening holiday plans. They say constituents have spent hours on the phone to HM Passport Office only to be told they need to wait, before turning to the MP.
The MP for Swansea East says: “I am disappointed that my constituents are facing the stress and worry of delayed passport applications especially with the holiday season almost upon us. The government needs to get its act together and properly staff the HM Passport office to allow a seamless and fast application process. The last few years have been difficult for everyone, and my constituents should not be prevented from taking a break abroad, or missing out on weddings or funerals, or job opportunities because of the Government’s ineptitude”.
The HM Passport Office says they have increased staff numbers to deal with the increase in applications. A spokeswoman said: "Since April 2021, we have been advising people to allow up to 10 weeks when applying for their British passport as more than five million people delayed applying due to the pandemic. We urge people who need a new passport to apply for one as soon as possible, with the vast majority of all passports applications are being dealt with well within 10 weeks.
“To deal with this demand, we have increased staff numbers by 500 since April 2021. This has helped us to handle more applications than ever before, with more than one million passport applications processed in March 2022.”
They are advising all customers not to book travel until they have a valid passport as any new passport will not have the same passport number as your old one, and say that the "vast majority" of applications are dealt with within 10 weeks. Carolyn Harris' ‘Passport Surgery’ is being held on Friday, May 13, between noon and 2pm. Appointments will be available on request by emailing Carolyn.Harris.MP@parliament.uk.
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