Royal Mail confirms reduced service in Coulsdon – via email

The inbox at Inside Croydon Towers has been inundated with an email from the Royal Fail following our report on Friday about the axing of postal collections in Coulsdon, where in future there will be but a single collection from post boxes each weekday.

Royal FailSomeone describing herself as “senior external relations manager” – which in plain English would probably be better known as a professional dissembler – Sally Hopkins, has written to us.

It is significant that Hopkins opted to use email, rather than the much-reduced “service” now provided by her employers. We have not had a mail delivery since Friday lunchtime, and we don’t expect any post being delivered to our business premises before midday on Tuesday. If we are lucky. We are not located in anything which someone might describe as a “rural” or “remote” location.

“I am writing to challenge some of the claims in this current posting,” Hopkins dissembles, before going on to regurgitate Royal Fail Group’s latest press release. Not once does she mention Coulsdon or the reduced levels of postal collection services being provided there by her privatised employers.

Hopkins’s email makes a number of assertions about Royal Fail’s reduced levels of service. Included in Hopkins’s email is, “Royal Mail is reaffirming our commitment to maintain our provision of post boxes under the universal service”. This ignores the issue here: a post box that has the mail collected from it less frequently, as is happening in Coulsdon, does not maintain the same service level.

Hopkins says that “around 2,000 new post boxes” are to be provided across the country. She does not mention any new post boxes being provided in Coulsdon. We leave it to our loyal reader to decide whether that may be because there are no such plans.

Email-writer Hopkins notes: “Letter volumes have been declining for some time. Some post boxes have very few items or none at all when we collect from them.  This leaves many post boxes no longer covering their costs.”

This is dissembling at its worst. A post box, once manufactured and installed, has no on-costs, beyond the occasional lick of paint. Servicing that mail box, by making collections from it, using staff, does have a cost. It is this cost which the Royal Fail is cutting in Coulsdon and elsewhere. Hopkins fails to mention this at all.

She continues: “Royal Mail is currently reviewing the collection arrangements for some low-volume post boxes.  We will be moving between 45,000 – 50,000 of our 115,300 postboxes to an earlier collection time, with mail picked up by the postman or woman as part of their delivery round.  This will typically be between 9am and 3pm in urban and suburban areas.  The indicator tab on the post box will show if the collection has been made.”

So there you have it, officially from a Royal Fail spokeswoman: nearly half of all the country’s post boxes will be moved to just a single collection each weekday – a massive reduction in service by the now privatised Royal Fail, in Coulsdon and elsewhere.

Postman Pat: to be made jobless under new Royal Fail proposals. Jess, his black and white cat, will be thrown into the canal as part of the efficiency drive

Postman Pat: to be made jobless under new Royal Fail proposals. Jess, his black and white cat, will be thrown into the canal as part of the efficiency drive

“Changing our final collection times to reflect user needs and volumes will unlock the opportunity for efficiency savings,” she says.

For “efficiency savings”, read cost-cutting. This from a business which has undergone widespread changes in recent years, preparing it for privatisation by already reducing staff numbers and costs.

“No post boxes will be removed as a result of this initiative,” she says; what is the use of a post box when it has the mail collected from it only once a day, rather than two or three times each day?

“The majority of post boxes will retain a 4pm or later final collection as they have now,” she says. This is contradicted by the information from our Coulsdon loyal reader. “We will ensure that there is a late posting box within half a mile of each post box that moves to earlier collections.”

Coulsdon residents and businesses reacted to our report on Friday with dismay at yet further reductions in the postal service that they receive.

“Stupid privatisation will mess up small businesses like mine,” said one.

Another commented: “To think in living memory you could post something that was delivered the same day. Some places had three or more collections/deliveries.”

There is a realism about the rise in use of email and other communication methods. But there remains a demand for a service that can deliver physical documents, payment cheques and other packages. “There’s nothing like looking at an old card someone sent you say for your 21st – it just brings a memory back, unlike an email,” said one.

“Sending email cards is not very personal for special occasions. Just lazy, too, and shows you perhaps forgot.”

The hard practicalities of Royal Fail’s proposals were summed up by another reader. “One collection a day wouldn’t be too bad, but my nearest post box has a collection time of between 7am and 9am. We’d have to be pretty organised if we want anything to arrive the next day!

“I have an online business. I can’t post my orders by email. I don’t sell enough to use a courier company and they are usually Large Letter size, so if I get an order after I’ve been to the post office, I can usually pop it in the box before 4.30 and it will go that evening. Now my customers will have to wait another day.”

We raised some of these points with Sally Hopkins, Royal Fail’s “senior external relations manager”.

We also asked how many jobs Royal Fail is cutting in London over the next 12 months as a consequence of their reduction in collections service.

We asked for a comment on the situation with the former sorting office at East Croydon, which Royal Fail has closed in an effort to profit on its property value for its new private owners, while diminishing the service provided in Croydon. We also asked them to comment on the illegal rave held in the property earlier this summer, where a teenager lost their life.

And as we “challenged” some of the “claims” she was making to disguise the cuts in the service being provided, we invited her to comment on how the collection office at East Croydon has been closed, despite widespread public complaint, and how moving this service from the centre of town has, in any way, enhanced or improved the service to the public.

We have yet to receive a response from Ms Hopkins to any of these questions.

Perhaps it’s in the post.

  • A first-class stamp now costs 62p
  • A second-class stamp costs 53p

The British public is estimated to have lost at least £1 billion through the undervaluation of the Royal Mail by the Tory-led government which pushed through the privatisation last year. Looks like a lose-lose, as usual.

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2 Responses to Royal Mail confirms reduced service in Coulsdon – via email

  1. mraemiller says:

    “What is the use of a post box when it has the mail collected from it only once a day, rather than two or three times each day?”

    I don’t know but this has become increasingly the case in parts of Surrey and I suspect most outlying regions for years. If my mum posts me a letter 1st class on Tuesday I am unlikely to receive it till at least Thursday. They are just bringing Coulsdon in line with Caterham and beyond. Gradually they will move inwards. Basically the more remote your location and need or an expeditious postal service the slower the system.

  2. arnorab says:

    There seems to be some misunderstanding of the meaning of words in the newly privatised Royal Fail. The words “reorganised’ and “worse” are synonymous to them.

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