Sunshine and Showers

Sunshine and Showers

max temp: 3°C

min temp: 2°C


Watchdog boss blasts Royal Mail

PUBLISHED: 05:25 20 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:12 24 February 2010

THE region's new chief of the postal industry watchdog has branded the Royal Mail a 'Victorian structure' and warned that post offices in East Anglia face a bleak future.

THE region's new chief of the postal industry watchdog has branded the Royal Mail a 'Victorian structure' and warned that post offices in East Anglia face a bleak future.

Dr Charles Winstanley, chairman of Postwatch East of England, believes the outlook for tens of thousands of staff is bleak as the Royal Mail Group falls behind competitors from leaner firms.

He wants to see other firms move in and offer postal services, and argues that Royal Mail services are shrinking.

He said: "In 2006 the market is being liberalized, opened up to all-comers. We are quite alarmed by the shrinkage of services, the collapse of the Royal Mail group. We want other operators to move in to postal services.

"The Post Office is essentially a Victorian structure - and working practices, it is very overmanned. A single postman at the moment only covers 500 houses, that has not changed since Victorian times. There is a degree of complacency which has not helped.

"Some very modern companies that are light on their feet already and using IT to distribute their parcels and packages will apply that to the postal service in a way that will employ far less people and do it more cheaply.

"The Post Office is not reinventing itself fast enough, new players will come in and bypass the Royal Mail Group. The consumers will benefit, but the tens of thousands of people who work for the Royal Mail Group may not fair so well."

Dr Winstanley, a former management consultant from North Norfolk, believes the viability of rural post offices is not good and in Norfolk's urban areas 150 post offices are due to close this year, one of the highest rates of closure in the country.

He said: "A major concern is the closure of post offices. What often drives this is a sub-postmaster wants to retire and they give him or her very attractive terms, they can easily earn twice as much by early retirement than selling the business.

"So in East Anglia they are persuading postmasters in urban and rural areas to retire and the post office is then closing. The worry is that a lot of postmasters are nearing retirement age."

Dr Winstanley raised concerns about late mail deliveries and pensioners' ability to receive their benefits over the counter when the new universal banking system of paying many people's money direct in to their bank accounts starts.

He fears this will harm post office viability - as they get paid per transaction - and they could also lose passing trade in the shops that are often part of the post office for those pensioners who accept having benefits paid in to bank accounts.

Patrick Breen, head of external relations for the south east and east of England for the Royal Mail, said they are committed to keeping post office branches open where possible in rural areas and have a team of 30 rural advisers.

Mr Breen said in urban areas the reality was that there were too many post offices chasing too few customers and sub-postmasters who are unable to make a living are closing down. He said the Post Office is losing £3 million a week and making no changes is not an option.

Mr Breen said it was unfair to say the business was operating in a Victorian way, with many jobs going in the Royal Mail and a new chairman and chief executive committed to getting the business into shape.

Postwatch deals with complaints about the postal service and according to the latest quarterly figures published by Royal Mail Group, Chelmsford was named the 7th worst performing in the UK for next day first class mail delivery and Colchester the 19th worst.

Dr Winstanley, who was appointed last month launches the new Postwatch office in Ely, Cambridgeshire on Tuesday.

A fire alarm temporarily stopped the show going on at the New Wolsey Theatre.

A prisoner from Hollesley Bay has been found after an appeal was launched to locate him.

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis tries out tapas sized dishes at the new Arlingtons in Ipswich.

Council chiefs in Essex say they will be faced with tough choices next year after a disappointing cash grant from central government.

A woman in her 40s was racially abused and pelted with eggs in a ‘cowardly attack’ in Colchester.

Policing along the Suffolk/Essex border has come under fire at a farmers’ meeting in Lavenham.

A garden centre that runs a popular Christmas Wonderland attraction has been criticised for making life a ‘nightmare’ for its neighbours in the run-up to Christmas.

Most read

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24