No surprise people want passports at holiday time

I HEARD some really heartrending tales this week, in relation to delays that people had experienced in obtaining or renewing their passports.

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There was the cancellation of a family's, once-in-a-lifetime trip to Disney World and the tale of bridesmaids and parents being unable to attend their daughters wedding in the Caribbean.

These family occasions cannot be repeated and it is important that the passport agency properly explain the unanticipated delays.

Applications for new passports, or to renew passports, appear to have hit a 12-year high.

There are currently over 465,000 requests at the passport agency.

It would seem that the surge in applications was predicted as far back as March this year.

Why then were the agency unable to respond?

This mystery doesn't require too much investigation to solve.

The passport agency now employs some 3400 staff.

That figure is down 600 in the last few years.

This 20% reduction in staff means that passports cannot be processed at the same rate.

It's quite simple really. The UK Government, of course deny that the delays are due to a lack of staff.

This point may well have been worth investigating further, were it not for the fact that extra staff are now being drafted in from other areas of the Home Office, to address the problem.

Thousands of people are still waiting for passports, two months after making their applications.

The target turnaround time for processing a passport application is set at three weeks by the passport agency.

The chief executive of the passport agency, Paul Pugh, denies that the agency are failing to cope. With a name like Pugh, and with me being a former fireman, it is clear that Mr Pugh and I have something in common.

Neither of us can run a passport agency.

THE latest independence polls have revealed that the Yes campaign still lag some 10% behind those who wish to stay part of the UK. With the clock ticking, it will be intriguing to see if the Yes campaign can make up sufficient ground, to win the referendum.

A large number of voters remain undecided and I would include myself among them.

Another report this week indicated that the key issue which was trending on Twitter, was in relation to Scotland being able to retain Sterling, after a vote for Independence.

Like many others, this issue remains one that I am concerned about, if I am to be persuaded to vote for Independence.

I also have real concerns as to how much Independence might cost to set up. Hundreds of agencies, thousands upon thousands of new civil servants, hundreds of millions?

Thousands of millions?

It would appear that the answer to these questions will remain unclear.

As the end of the campaign draws nearer, Scotland's future remains uncertain.

As both sides engage in campaigns to win arguments, hearts, heads and minds, I do hope that some of these issues may be brought into greater clarity.

Scotland's future will be one that we will all reach at the same rate, if not for the same reasons.

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