Royal Mail slammed for post failures

MAIL bosses were strongly criticised last night after it emerged the region's first class postal service failed to meet its target for next day delivery.

Craig Robinson

MAIL bosses were strongly criticised last night after it emerged the region's first class postal service failed to meet its target for next day delivery.

According to figures released yesterday by the Royal Mail, only 85.2% of first class mail was delivered the following working day in 2007/08 - some way behind the target of 93%.

The CO postcode, for Colchester and the surrounding area - which includes parts of Suffolk - was the second worst performing in the country with a next day delivery rate of just 79.6%.

Meanwhile 85.6% of first class mail was delivered the next day in the IP postcode, for Ipswich and the surrounding area.

Last night Royal Mail said the reason for the poor performance - down on the 94% achieved in 2006/07 - was because of the recent postal strikes over pay.

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But MPs and the postal watchdog criticised the company for failing to meet its responsibilities.

Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for north Essex, said: “I am glad about one thing. The figures reflect what people tell me and what I experience myself.

“People say they have written to me and ask why I haven't replied or why the letters come very late.

“I am going to seek a meeting with Royal Mail management to ask what is wrong and what they can do about it. It is very unacceptable.”

Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Harwich, added: “It is appalling but it does not come as a huge surprise to me.

“I probably have about 200 letters a day arriving in my office from local people and I have noticed that the service is well below what it should be.

“The management has got to take responsibility and they cannot blame the workforce. It must be to do with poor management.”

Dr Charles Winstanley, chairman of Postwatch East, said the company's recovery following the industrial action had not been quick enough.

“Royal Mail's recovery was severely blown off course by last summer's strikes,” he said. “Figures confirm that customers received poor levels of service. Furthermore, the fourth quarter results show that Royal Mail's recovery from the industrial action was in some respects disappointingly slow.

“What the figures do not reveal is what effect the strikes have had on the posting habits of social and business customers. Many of these customers had to find other ways to communicate.

“It looks like the start of a downward trend partly caused by customers being forced to find other ways to pay bills, receive statements, order goods or respond to enquiries.”

A spokesman for Royal Mail said the industrial action last year “damaged” services for postal customers.

He said that 92.2% of first class letters were delivered the working day after posting in the final quarter of 2007/08 - compared to 79.3% in the third quarter and 78.4% in the second quarter.

Ninian Wilson, Royal Mail's operations director, said, “The immediate objective for everyone working in the business is to deliver further improvements in quality of service to customers and restore the record levels seen before last year's dispute.”

Postcode areas and next day delivery

Postcode area % 2007/08

CM Chelmsford 80.9

CO Colchester 79.6

IP Ipswich 85.6

NR Norwich 86.3

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