New online passport system means faster and cheaper service
5th November 2013
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 on 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."
Mrs Inkson (sitting) is assisted by David Sutherland, Caithness Ward Manager and Elaine Gray, Customer Services Officer, Wick Service Point
Recent outcomes of Redesign work were noted by Members at yesterday's Highland Council meeting. In the first year of the programme, 8 redesign projects were undertaken using a "Lean" approach and 36 staff have been trained as facilitators.
Motorists are being advised that The Highland Council is currently preparing to carry out resurfacing works at the following locations: • B862 Fort Augustus - Whitebridge - Torness - Dores – Inverness Road; specifically at Errogie Village (North Gateway), Errogie Village (South Gateway), and Compass Farm; and • B851 Errogie – Strathnairn – Daviot Bridge – Culloden Moor Road; specifically at Aberarder House. Advanced works notification signage will be provided at various locations from Thursday 15 March 2018.
The Highland Council has agreed a capital programme of £482m over the next 5 years. The Highland Council serves the largest geographical area in Scotland (over 30%) and has just under £2bn of assets on its balance sheet comprising, amongst other things, 203 operational schools, over 6,700km of roads and over 2,000 properties.
The Highland Council's Enforcement Officers have stepped up patrols in Caithness in a move to tackle the problem of littering, fly tipping and dog fouling. A number of fixed penalty notices have been issued recently including an £80 fine for dog fouling in the Stafford Lane and Back Bridge area of Wick, a £200 fine for fly-tipping on Ackergill Street and another £80 fine for dog fouling in Lybster.
Speaking ahead of today's Council meeting to agree the Council's Capital Programme for 2018/19 to 2022/23, Cllr Margaret Davidson, Leader of the Highland Council said:- "This programme delivers significant investment in a range of key projects across the Highlands. We are investing in schools, roads, bridges, harbours and flood prevention schemes that will benefit our communities.
Highland Council is to make a special case for extra capital investment in the road infrastructure after a winter period which has seen the Highlands battered by some 57 days of severe weather. Highland Council area is particularly subject to severe winter weather, which has a significant impact on the roads and other infrastructure.
Maps of the Council's gritting routes by priority and policy are available online at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting. The information provided is a summary of reports from operational staff and is intended to give a general indication of typical conditions in each area at a point in time.
The £48.5m Wick Community Campus built by Morrison Construction has been announced as a finalist at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2018. The project is entered in the category for "Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy" against eight other finalists from across the UK with the winner to be announced during a ceremony at Milton Court Concert Hall on 24 May 2018.
A Partnership for Procurement event was held in Inverness today (Thursday 6 March) to raise awareness and the capability of the third sector to successfully bid, supply and deliver services for the public sector. Partnership for Procurement (P4P) is a new initiative funded through the Scottish Government's 10 Year Social Enterprise Strategy; supporting social enterprises and third sector organisations to better access public contracts and build partnerships.
Across the Northern Alliance local authorities an exciting project has been rolled out to raise attainment in literacy, language and communication. The programme is being delivered in around 50% of primary schools across the Northern Alliance and is aimed at supporting practitioners to take a developmental approach to supporting early literacy development.
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