Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Passport office closures proposed

The offices are used to interview first-time passport applicants

Consultation has started on plans to close 10 passport interview offices located throughout the UK.

They are part of a network of more than 60 offices which were set up over the past three years.

Sites in Andover, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Bury St Edmonds, Dover, Dumfries, Oban, Scarborough, Sleaford, South Molton and Stirling could be closed.

An Identity and Passport Service (IPS) spokesman said it needed to seek value for money in "tough economic times".

The new network of offices was unveiled in May 2006 in order to allow all first-time passport applicants to be interviewed.

Our fear is that this announcement will be a prelude to further closures which will further undermine services that the public receive
Mark Serwotka
PCS general secretary

However, the IPS said it was now considering closing some of the sites.

A spokesman said: "During these tough economic times it's even more important that IPS provides best value for money.

"With this in mind, we are consulting on proposals to close 10 regional interview offices across the UK which are currently under used.

"No final decision has been made but if we do move towards closure then IPS has an excellent track record in redeploying its staff."

He added that they would do everything possible to prevent any redundancies.

"We are confident that our excellent customer service will not be affected as alternative offices are available within easy reach," he said.

'Crude cost-cutting'

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has criticised the move which it said would cost 44 jobs.

It said the decision would services to the public suffer.

General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: "This is another example of crude cost-cutting measures hitting services in communities already badly affected by job losses and office closures in other areas of the civil service.

"Our fear is that this announcement will be a prelude to further closures which will further undermine services that the public receive."

He added that the move would "disproportionately hit rural communities".

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