Update: Monday 18 January
Last Friday I met with Royal Mail to discuss the ongoing problems residents have been experiencing with mail services particularly in the N8, N4 and N10 areas. Councillors Adam Jogee, Elin Weston and Dana Carlin were also in attendance to raise the specific problems Hornsey residents have been experiencing in recent weeks.
I’m extremely grateful to everyone who’s shared their own experiences with me. It’s important to note than many of you have also been in touch to praise your own posties, who’ve been essential frontline workers throughout the pandemic but have been dealing with a higher volume of mail than ever before with fewer people. They need more support and I’ve been calling for a clear Royal Mail action plan including recruiting more temporary staff to resolve the serious local problems.
During the meeting a number of issues were raised including:
- Prioritisation of vaccine letters: I am pleased that Royal Mail recognise this issue and all postal workers have been instructed to prioritise vaccination letters which can be identified by a distinct NHS logo. They have also confirmed that such invitation letters do not contain details of a prearranged appointment for recipients to attend to receive the vaccine. Instead, the letter directs the recipient to the telephone number that must be contacted to arrange a vaccination appointment. As such, it is hoped that any fears that appointments might be missed as a result of postal delays can be alleviated.
- The need for a sorting office to be reinstated in Hornsey: the ongoing problems with local mail and the growing number of homes in these postcodes evidences that such a sorting office is required, to help alleviate the pressure at the North London Delivery Centre, and to ensure the prompt, safe and stable resumption of postal services in the long-term. As many of you know, I’ve been campaigning for this for some time and I was assured that this request would be passed on for consideration by the relevant parties in Royal Mail. I will continue to raise the issue with the new CEO of Royal Mail.
- Action plan to resolve the ongoing issues: the representatives for Royal Mail provided assurances that the North London Delivery Centre (NLDC) is now recovering from the peak in staff absence levels, and the increase in resource capacity will mean that the backlog of post generated during the November-December period is aimed to be cleared by the end of this week. Drop-off points for parcel collection have also been reinstated in the area, after a brief period in which the collection service was suspended due to resourcing issues. With the backlog to be cleared imminently, staff will resume the service standard that has been implemented to last for the duration of the pandemic: constituents can expect alternate day delivery services to resume shortly.
I’m still seeking answers on a number of further issues including details of how many of the newly recruited temporary staff will be allocated to the North London Delivery Centre, written confirmation that the backlog will be cleared and no mail will be disposed of and clarification of what residents should do if they are still waiting for outstanding items. I have written again to Royal Mail on these issues and also want to see a longer-term plan so these problems don’t reoccur.
I hope this update has been helpful and you will start to see a noticeable improvement in the coming weeks. Do keep me updated should that not be the case and I will continue to post any updates here.
Update: Friday 4 January
I’ve recently received many emails from constituents in N8 and N4 who are having problems with their post, with parcels either not arriving or being severely delayed. The postal service is a key part of our national infrastructure, especially in the current circumstances. Deliveries have been crucial to supporting people’s ability to isolate; to ensure the vulnerable are able to receive food and essentials whilst shielding; and, in the festive period, to get Christmas presents to loved ones. I appreciate how frustrating it has been for people who have been experiencing these difficulties.
I have been raising this with Royal Mail for some time and their latest response to my correspondence is below. I have also arranged an emergency meeting with them in the coming week.
Update: December 2020
I have now received an update on disruption to local services. Royal Mail have advised that there has been a significant increase in parcel deliveries at the North London Delivery Centre, while employee absence levels are currently at 16% – higher than normally expected at this time of year. Other measures to ensure COVID-safety has resulted in reductions in the number of staff able to work in an enclosed space at any one time.
Royal Mail have explained that several steps have been taken to remedy these challenges to North London Delivery Centre’s capacity. I was very pleased to hear that 10 extra workers have been recruited to expand services during this peak period, and more vehicles and trollies have been obtained to support postal delivery while maintaining social distancing guidelines. I was assured that, where COVID-19 absence rates impact the completion of post-delivery on any specific day, the affected delivery round is prioritised the following working day.
I understand that these changes have seen an improvement in service levels, including a six-day-a-week service operating across N4. This week, I’ve started to receive welcome feedback from constituents informing me that long-awaited deliveries have started to arrive. I am so glad to hear this, and hope that the measures the North London Delivery Centre have introduced continues to see an improvement in constituents’ experience of postal services.
This update is the latest in a continued line of communication with Royal Mail, following issues during the first lockdown back in March. At the time I raised this matter with the local area manager for Royal Mail, the Cabinet Office, and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. I will continue to monitor this situation closely and am determined to support both local residents and Royal Mail during this time, so that the crucial postal services can be delivered both efficiently and safely.
Read the response I have received from Royal Mail here: