Visiting Royal Mail

Visting Royal Mail's Hornsey delivery officeWhen I looked at my diary yesterday and discovered I had a 6.30am visit to Hornsey N8 Royal Mail delivery office I did ponder for a moment as to whether this was just cruelty or revenge by my diary secretary. However, having done the event, it was well worth it.

I conducted a huge survey of postal services in the constituency during the year. It had a huge response and whilst many people did say how good the service was and how pleased they were with their own postman, – there certainly were a lot of complaints – late delivery, mis-delivery, no delivery and wrong delivery – amongst others. All of which I had agreed with Royal Mail that they would address and answer individually. They have been very cooperative on this front.

I am setting up a Hornsey & Wood Green MailWatch group to work at local level with local offices to deal with these sorts of issues and form good local relationships – so that when and as things happen, there is method of dealing with them directly and locally. Human relationships rather than amorphous gargantuan organisations are much better – and the more local the better too.

So, I arrive at the Horsney Delivery Office – which whilst the rest of the world is just stirring, is in full swing. Keith Headland (the local manager) and John Bull (area manager) both greet me and take me into the warehouse. Here there are different functions performed along the long alleyways formed by sorting shelves, or grids (that hold runs) and so on.

When I arrive the post team (lots of staff) are working on the initial sort. All N8 mail comes here from the North and East London sorting office. When the N8 mail gets here it is first sorted into packages, parcels, letters, etc and then into its street areas. Then the staff move to the grids – which are like extended letter racks in rows where the letters are then not only sorted into the delivery runs but put in order. So you can imagine how annoying it would be to get to the end of a long road and then find the last letter you have actually should have been delivered at the other end of the road.

And so on and so on. This isn’t meant to be a blow by blow account of the system – but it is only fair to try and give some idea of the major logistics operation that delivering the post is – and, given the issues I’ve raised, only appropriate to actually come and see the reality myself.

One of the key problems at Hornsey is the lack of space. It really is not easy to do what they do in that little space – but the commercial realities of their existence these days against a competitive market means they cannot (or their central office cannot) accommodate them in better premises.

And that is the real battle – the Royal Mail has to deliver the Universal Post and their competitors do not. And whilst MailWatch will hopefully work together with local offices so that we can together improve local postal services for local people – the bigger question is how they can survive against this playing field and against the backdrop of a Government which seems to be hell bent on destroying our local social fabric by destroying and closing our local post offices.

There is going to be a statement today about further closures. It is lunacy!

Meanwhile, the staff I met this morning seemed really pleased that I had come to see them as previous politicians who had criticised the service had refused all invitations to do so.

Overall, I was much encouraged both by the attitude of the local office (and this is just one of the ones I need to involve) and by the response to my call for people who want to be involved in setting up and running MailWatch West Haringey. If you are interested – please contact me.