Royal Mail’s beleaguered East Dulwich service has seen death certificates go missing, one resident in court over an unpaid speeding fine, and others unable to buy food online during lockdown as replacement bank cards failed to arrive.
As the News has reported, local MP Helen Hayes has long called on Royal Mail to improve its service, saying the closure of its former sorting office coupled with sickness and increased workload from the pandemic had been disastrous for residents.
She has now taken her campaign to the government, demanding a regulatory review and that the problems facing the service in SE22 are taken to the ‘highest level’, saying the issues are a result of privatisation.
“Residents across East Dulwich have been inconvenienced, but many individual constituents have suffered consequences that are far more serious than being inconvenienced,” she told MPs.
“Among the constituents suffering the most serious outcomes of this collapse in service are those who have missed important hospital appointments for critical health conditions, those whose relatives’ death certificates went missing, and those required to shield who did not receive the government’s advice on how to keep themselves safe.
“In addition, dozens of replacement bank cards went missing, leaving some constituents unable to buy food online at a time when they were unable to leave their homes. Cheques went missing, including one for £4,000.
“One constituent now has to attend court for no other reason than that the letter informing her of a speeding fine arrived after the deadline for paying the fine had passed.
“Parcels for students leaving home for university have not been delivered before the start of term, and there are many cases of legal documents relating to power of attorney, care arrangements or conveyancing being lost or greatly delayed.”
She added: “While postal workers across the country have been serving on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic, Royal Mail’s chief operating officer and outgoing chief executive were both working from home, in Germany and Switzerland respectively.
“The outgoing chief executive, whose abrupt departure was announced in May, had received a golden hello of £5.8 million, a sum that could have been used to hire 252 postmen and postwomen, just a few of whom would have been able to sustain reliable services for my constituents in SE22.
“The SE22 Royal Mail delivery office on Silvester Road in East Dulwich was sold for £7.5 million and is currently being developed for luxury flats, carefully designed to fall just below the threshold requiring any affordable housing.”
Responding to her calls for action, including bringing Royal Mail back into public ownership, government business minister Paul Scully said the problems with services in East Dulwich had improved since the worst of the pandemic.
“As to privatisation, there are some fundamental changes, not necessarily on ownership, that Royal Mail recognises and must address.
“It has a universal service obligation to keep six-day delivery right across the UK at a single price, but it also faces a challenge with the reduction in the number of letters being sent and the increase in the number of parcels, which as yet it has been unable to capitalise on as much as some of its competitors. A lot of functions need to be changed.”