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05-Nov-13, 19:16
New system means faster and cheaper service

CUSTOMERS in North East Scotland applying for their first passport no longer face a journey of around 200 miles to Inverness to be interviewed, thanks to a new service which has opened in Wick.
The new service , located at the Council's Service Point in Girnigoe Street, Wick, offers first-time passport customers a video-link interview with the main passport office in Glasgow. Previously customers faced the cost and inconvenience of traveling all the way to Inverness for an interview.
The service was launched today (Monday) and the first customer was Wendy Inkson, a resident of John O'Groats which is the mainland's most northerly location.
Ms Inkson said: "I am delighted that this service is available in Caithness. It saves a significant amount of time and expense in traveling to the nearest passport interview office in Inverness. The service I received was first class."
Wick is one of 29 locations in the UK where Her Majesty's Passport Office has entered into partnership with local authorities and other trusted organisations to help deliver local interview services to customers. The majority of locations are in the Highlands and Islands - where secure video link interviews are making a real difference to customers.
The partnership was marked by a visit to the Archive Centre in Inverness last year, by Her Majesty's Passport Office Area Operations Manager for Scotland, Danny Wilhare.
Mr Wilhare said: "Her Majesty's Passport Office would like to thank the staff at The Highland Council for helping us deliver a truly first class local service.
"Adult customers in the seven Highlands Council areas, applying for a passport for the first time, have benefited from having their interview locally and not having the hassle of travelling long distances.
"This has established strong links between the Her Majesty's Passport Office and customers in the Highlands Council areas. We look forward to continuing to deliver this service to our customers in partnership with the Archive Centre in Wick."
The partnership between The Highland Council and Her Majesty's Passport Office has seen a similar service provided at Inverness, Fort William and Ullapool.
Councillor Deirdre Mackay, Leader of the Council's Caithness and Sutherland Area Committee, said: "We are delighted to extend the number of services that the public can conduct at our Service Point. Saving local people long and expensive journeys to apply for a passport is a real bonus."