'No change' for public if Newport passport office shuts

Image caption,
The Newport office is one of seven passport offices around the UK

There will be "no change" to services offered to the public if the Newport passport office closes, its head has said.

The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) is consulting on the closure which would mean 300 jobs going.

Chief executive Sarah Rapson said if the proposed closure goes ahead a same day passport service will be retained.

"There will be no change other than they may have to go to a different building," she added.

"We will still offer a same day service for those people in Wales who find their passport is out of date and they're about to go on holiday and we will still offer the Welsh language provision.

"There is no change to the level of service customers will receive," Ms Rapson added.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan, who has said the closure of the passport office is not inevitable, is due to meet the head of the passport service on Tuesday to discuss the proposals.

First Minister Carwyn Jones has said the government "has lost the plot" and promised to write to the prime minister about the closure.

Earlier on Monday, staff and union officials met in the ballroom of the city's King's Hotel.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has said it will fight "24 hours a day" to stop the cuts.

The PCS said the move would have a "devastating" impact on the local economy.

The proposed closure would leave Wales as the only UK region without a passport office.

Workers at Monday's meeting said they were shocked and angry when the consultation was announced.

Rosie Knight said: "I'm a little scared about the future.

"We were all very shocked and there were some tears and some anger.

"It's just so unfortunate and frightening."

PCS representative Peter Harris said: "The support has been fantastic.

"The local MPs have been here today, the AMs... Peter Hain has come out in favour of us.

"We couldn't ask for more.

"We will take it all the way. We will fight it 24 hours a day."

There are also fears passport interview offices in Swansea, Wrexham, Newport and Aberystwyth could close.

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