MP Helen Hayes has slammed the Royal Mail over delivery office closures during a lengthy Westminster Hall debate.

The Dulwich and West Norwood Labour MP said she was prompted to seek the debate because her constituency is threatened with the closure of two delivery offices.

“And I understand the impact that those closures will have on my constituents if they go ahead.

She also wanted to highlight the wider pattern of delivery office closures, which affected not only her constituents but communities across the country.

“Earlier this year, Royal Mail announced plans to close the West Norwood and East Dulwich delivery offices in my constituency.

“Since then, more than 1,000 local residents have contacted me to express their opposition to the closures, and many have also written to Royal Mail’s chief executive, Moya Greene.

“People from all walks of life have attended three public protests on the issue, among them wheelchair users, small business owners, home workers and many families and elderly residents who are keen to speak out on the impact that the loss of their local delivery office will have on them.

“Royal Mail delivery offices are where the final stage in the mail sorting process takes place, the depots from which postal workers collect their rounds, and the front counter facilities where customers can collect parcels, recorded delivery mail and mail sent to a PO box address.

“Royal Mail argues that because a parcel can be left with a neighbour or have its delivery rescheduled, communities can manage without delivery offices.

“But there are many people for whom those options simply do not work, including those who work long hours;
the many small business owners and sole traders who prefer to collect their mail from their local delivery office precisely because they can pick it up at a time of their choosing, allowing them to get on with other important meetings and errands rather than being tied inflexibly to a particular location;
and people who simply do not have the time to be tied to their home just to wait for a delivery.”

Responding to questions from fellow Labour MPs Helen Hayes said it is a problem across the country that where delivery offices are being closed, the receipts from the sale of that land are recouped entirely for the benefit of shareholders and not reinvested in alternative facilities for customers;

that extended delivery hours at a location very far from where residents live is no substitute for having a facility directly in their community; and

that the Royal Mail needs to compete on quality, not simply seek to reduce its costs to survive in the competitive environment it finds itself in.

“The closures Royal Mail are proposing in my constituency would severely restrict the accessibility of services for my constituents.

“Under the proposals, residents in the SE27 postcode area, who currently use the West Norwood delivery office, would be required to travel not to the next nearest delivery office, which is too small to accommodate the work from West Norwood, but to a delivery office three miles away, which requires them to take two different buses on congested roads: a journey that can easily take an hour each way, not accounting for the queuing time that will inevitably result from more mail being delivered at that delivery office.

“The impact is similar in East Dulwich, where residents will have to travel to Peckham to collect their post, to a delivery office that is not easy to find and which has no dedicated parking.

“In East Dulwich, it is accepted by staff that the current delivery office building is not fit for purpose, but that is only because of the immense growth in parcel deliveries at that location, which means that the workload has outgrown the site.

“That is only an argument for finding new premises in the SE22 postcode area, not an argument for forcing residents to travel longer distances to collect their mail.”

Question put and agreed to. Resolved: That this House has considered Royal Mail delivery office closures.

(Source: TheyWorkForYou Royal Mail Delivery Office Closures Westminster Hall 11th October 2017.)

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