North Essex 'has worst postal service'

THE standard of the postal service in the Colchester area has been branded “completely unacceptable” after it was revealed to have the poorest first-class delivery rate in England.

Elliot Furniss

THE standard of the postal service in the Colchester area has been branded “completely unacceptable” after it was revealed to have the poorest first-class delivery rate in England.

Figures released by Royal Mail have revealed the CO postcode, which covers most of north east Essex including Colchester and Tendring, is second only to the remote Shetland Islands for having the worst delivery record in the UK for the first three-quarters of 2007-8.

North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin said he was “outraged” by the news that the delivery rate was 17% below the minimum target and that he would be contacting the Government immediately to ensure the poor performance was investigated.

He said: “Everybody knows the postal service is getting worse and worse but it's an outrage that Colchester is quite worse than most other areas.

“It's completely unacceptable and I will be writing to the minister responsible for postal services to ask them what action will be taken.

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“Whether it is trains, roads, the NHS or dentists, the public services in this country are getting worse under this Government - despite all the extra tax we pay.”

Only 75.8% of first class letters were delivered on time in Colchester and the news was not much better for customers in Chelmsford after the CM postcode area was ranked third worst for its poor performance.

Representatives from Postwatch, the postal service watchdog, are set to meet senior figures from Royal Mail next week to discuss the matter.

Linda McCord, Postwatch East's regional manager, accepted that the figures were affected by the industrial action that took place last autumn but said there were still serious concerns about standards in the region.

She said: “Chelmsford and Colchester have failed for a few quarters now. We were planning to meet with them (Royal Mail) before and these figures have made us even more concerned.

“Customers pay to have their mail delivered the next day and therefore they expect that it will be. They should be able to rely on that.”

Against a target of 93%, across the UK only 83% of first-class stamped mail was delivered next day on average and Royal Mail is likely to miss 10 of its 12 annual licence targets when the year ends - the worst annual performance since 2003-4 when it missed all of its licence targets.

Royal Mail said the national figures reflected the impact of last year's strike action, which ended in October, and said it was now looking at ways to deliver a “consistent” service.

Ninian Wilson, Royal Mail's operations director, said the new figures contrasted with the target-beating performance delivered across “almost every aspect” of the service before last year's strike.

She said: “With the strike behind us and a wide-ranging agreement on modernisation in place, we are now focused on delivering once again consistent, high quality of service to all our customers.”

TOP 5

(% of first-class mail delivered the next day)

1 TW Twickenham 88.2

2 KT Kingston upon Thames 87.5

3 LU Luton 87.4

4 AL St Albans 87.0

= WC London West Central 87.0

BOTTOM 5

1 CO Colchester 75.8

2 SW London SW 76.2

3 CM Chelmsford 77.2

4 OX Oxford 77.3

5 ST Stoke-on-Trent 77.9

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