Following complaints from Linslade residents about a very disrupted Christmas postal service I wrote to the Chief Executive of Royal Mail before Christmas and received a reply on the 30th of December.
I am a great admirer of our postmen and postwomen who generally give us a superb service throughout the year. Other than this year because of the pandemic, I have visited the delivery offices in Leighton Buzzard and Dunstable every year before Christmas for the last 19 years to thank the staff for the service they give us.
Royal Mail have told me that there was a 44% absence rate because of Covid and for other reasons on the 24th of December at the Leighton Buzzard delivery office. I have asked how this compares with other delivery offices and whether further steps can be taken to make it a more Covid secure workplace. Contrary to some recent allegations, Royal Mail have taken on 33,000 extra temporary staff over Christmas and I have asked how many of these were working in the Leighton Buzzard delivery office and whether any steps were taken to increase this number because of the very high level of staff absence.
What concerns me most about Royal Mail’s reply is that they claimed that on Christmas Eve deliveries were taking place in Linslade at least every other day. One Linslade resident has reported however that his last three postal deliveries were on the 11th of December, the 22nd of December and the 30th of December. On the 30th of December he received 43 items of post. One of the letters was postmarked with a posting date of the 9th of December. Some letters posted within the town or from Heath and Reach had taken 16 days to arrive.
It does not appear that senior Royal Mail management are aware of the very severe deterioration in the service which has caused upset and disappointment to a lot of local people. I have therefore gone back to Royal Mail to ask for further explanations and for assurances that urgent improvements will be put in place straight away, including the retention of extra temporary staff beyond the Christmas and New Year period if necessary.