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Passport backlog forces Weymouth woman to cancel south of France trip
A WEYMOUTH woman has slammed the Home Office after delays in receiving her new passport meant she was forced to cancel a trip to see her partner's ill father.
Meggie Crane, from Hardwick Street, was due to fly with her partner Giles Heaman to the south of France on Sunday to see his father Roger, who is suffering from declining eye sight and will soon be blind.
Miss Crane applied to renew her passport on May 28 using the online renewal system, five weeks before she was due to fly out, and she has still not received her passport despite contacting the Passport Office every day during the last week.
Now, Miss Crane has lost £240 after having to cancel her flights and has stayed at home as Mr Heaman carried on to visit his father.
Her Majesty's Passport Office is currently facing a huge backlog of 508,000 passport applications that have not been processed, and new measures have been introduced to try and deal with the problem.
Home Secretary Theresa May was forced to make an apology in the House of Commons over the backlog and said that extra staff had been introduced to deal with the problem, after the Passport Office was dealing with its highest demand for over 12 years.
Theresa May also added those who had not received their passports after three weeks would receive travel documents free of charge if they had to travel within a week, but this was not applied to Miss Crane.
Miss Crane told the Echo she had rang the passport office every day since June 27 to try and sort the issue out.
She offered to travel to the Newport or Liverpool branches of the Home Office, where passport applications are dealt with, to get her passport but was told her application was being dealt with in the Belfast Office.
She was then told there was an issue with her photograph so sent the office a new one by recorded delivery, and she phoned them again after they had received the new photo.
After facing another delay and being told by customer services that they would phone her back, she asked to speak to the manager and was told her problem was “irrelevant” and the customer service operator refused to put her through to a manager.
Miss Crane said: “The whole situation is ridiculous. The announcement from Theresa May, the home secretary, doesn't mean anything if they are not actually going to sort it out.
“I rang the office every day for the past week trying to get this sorted. When I phoned them again on the Friday and was told the issue was irrelevant. I knew I wasn't going to be able to fly, so cancelled my tickets.”
Miss Crane has now lodged two complaints following the delays and for how she was treated by the customer service line.
Miss Crane added: “I have been left in limbo. I don't know when I'm going to get my passport, I can't make any plans to go and see Giles' father, there has been no communication at all from them.
“It's more than a holiday, it means more than that and they did not appreciate it. I am so disappointed.
“I feel massively let down.”
A spokesman for the Home Office said: “We will be contacting the customer regarding the urgent processing of their application.
“It can take longer to process a passport if more information is required, or if the application has been filled out incorrectly.”