Tom Brake Sorts the Post

January 19, 2011 11:31 AM

Tom Brake, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, has spoken out on behalf of constituents who failed to get any mail for up to two weeks over the Christmas period.

Since Christmas and New Year, Royal Mail has been running with a lengthy backlog, with reports of local residents waiting on important letters including bills, credit cards, and confirmation of hospital appointments. The problem has been exacerbated by the fact that, unlike the case with undelivered items where a red card is pushed through the recipient's door, when residents have discovered their post has arrived at the sorting office they have not been allowed to claim it before Royal Mail has attempted delivery of the item.

The issue was still ongoing as of the 11th January, with those living in the SM6 8H area of Wallington seemingly worst affected.

Andy Read, who was one of the local residents to be affected said, 'The situation went beyond inconvenient. Even though we weren't receiving our post, what was particularly infuriating was the complete inability to collect it from the sorting office, or get Royal Mail to do anything about the problem.'

Tom has been in contact with Royal Mail in an attempt to resolve the issue and has written to the Chairman to demand an explanation. Royal Mail have said that Wallington are employing an additional 11 temporary staff to clear the backlog and that the issue should be resolved shortly, if not already. Anyone in Carshalton and Wallington concerned they have not been receiving their post is urged to contact Tom so he can take up their case with the Royal Mail.

Last week, Tom took an opportunity to question the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Ed Davey, who is responsible for overseeing the Post Office, on the matter. The Minister reassured him that the Royal Mail is duty bound to ensure the correct post ends up with the correct addressees and that, 'It seems common sense that in exceptional circumstances, when Royal Mail cannot deliver, an individual should be able to go to their local delivery office.' He also pledged to meet Tom so as to investigate the matter further.

Later Tom said, 'I understand the problems Royal Mail must have to contend with during periods of bad weather or staff sickness, but they must be better equipped to deal with these conditions. That is why I will continue to press for people to be able to provide valid identification and claim their post at a sorting office when there has been a backlog.'

ENDS

Hansard

13 Jan 2011 : Column 425

T2. [33252] Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): Over the Christmas and new year period, some of my constituents received no post for up to a fortnight. Does the Minister agree that this is not acceptable, and could he talk to the Royal Mail about whether residents should be allowed to present themselves at a sorting office, providing they have identification, to collect mail that has been stockpiled there?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Mr Edward Davey): I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this matter with me; it was the first time I had heard about it. Although it is an operational matter for Royal Mail, there are certain procedures it must adhere to. For one, it must ensure that the right letters and parcels get to the right people. Of course, in normal circumstances, a "sorry you were out" card is left for the person, if they are out, after which they go and show their identification. However, it seems common sense that in exceptional circumstances, when Royal Mail cannot deliver, an individual should be able to go to their local delivery office. I know that my hon. Friend has contacted Royal Mail to raise this issue. I have looked into it overnight, and it appears that that particular office has experienced high levels of sickness in recent weeks. However, I will liaise with him on the matter.

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