Royal Mail deliveries across the constituency
I have been receiving a lot of complaints from constituents recently about problems with delivery of their post especially in parts of northern Worthing and Southwick. The former is served by the main sorting office in the centre of Worthing whilst Southwick’s mail comes from the Portslade depot in Boundary Road. I have not been made aware of a similar level of problems across the Lancing or Shoreham delivery areas. Having taken up various enquiries with Royal Mail I have just visited the Portslade sorting office where I met the manager and staff as well as the area manager who covers Sussex from Arundel to Newhaven. Some constituents reported that they had been told that Royal Mail were actively only delivering 3 days a week in certain areas. I found no evidence of this and as the manager confirmed that would be against their contractual obligations.
It is clear that all the sorting offices have been experiencing recruitment problems and continue to do so. They are currently looking to fill 4 vacancies at Portslade and are actively looking for new employees including working with local homeless charities for candidates. They were also not able to recruit during the recent industrial action which again disrupted deliveries significantly. That is now behind them in addition to which they have a new Chief Executive in place with a new business plan and financing in place to address the problems they have been experiencing
The staff shortages are therefore exacerbated more when there are sickness problems and local sorting offices have been experiencing high levels of sickness absence in part due to a resurgence of Covid cases. At one stage almost half the Portslade staff were affected by sickness which meant substantial strain on deliveries in the short term. Currently the figure is back to normal levels though they remain vulnerable. As regards lateness of deliveries I had a good look around the Portslade depot and most shelves were pretty bare. I was told that there is virtually no mail at their depot which is more than 24 hours old and that is the usual case. Where there were uncovered delivery rounds today they would be out tomorrow and contrary to my experience Saturday is actually one of their busiest delivery days for residential addresses.
Another shocking revelation is that on average one postie a week is injured by dogs when delivering mail, some seriously. So this is also a call to keep dogs under better control - I can second that having delivered a lot of constituency newspapers recently!
Clearly there will still be some constituents who have been missing post on a more serious basis but overall there is no evidence of any systemic failure of the system and when there is a backlog it becomes very evident and very unmanageable quickly. I have suggested that Royal Mail provide local MPs with regular updates so that we can forewarn constituents if there are particular problems in certain areas and I have spoken with their communications department about this, and the staff at Portslade thought this would be a helpful idea to prevent customers venting their anger on them. I was concerned to hear about the amount of abuse that staff have been subjected to at Portslade.
The situation will be helped by more people coming forward for a career with Royal Mail and they are very keen to hear from you. They have also been recruiting casual staff to cover shortfalls locally so again there are opportunities here.
Please do let me know of any further problems over a protracted period and I will be happy to take them up with the area manager who covers my constituency and if there are any changes in the future I will post news on my social media and newsletter.