On Monday, March 8 Royal Mail removed the post box outside the old post office at 7 Market Place, Hedon. This was a priority post box for the town. And we may have to wait 3 or 4 months for a replacement!

Photo of Hedon post box being removed by lorry
Hedon post box being removed 8 March

Royal Mail helpfully describes a priority post box:

“We are a key partner for the government’s coronavirus testing programme… You may be asked to post your sample in one of over 35,000 specially selected Royal Mail priority postboxes. We also have later collection times on a Saturday and new Sunday collections from over 15,000 priority postboxes. You can find your nearest priority postbox on Services Near You or on the Royal Mail app.

Go to the Services Near You hyperlink above and you will see that the nearest priority post boxes to Hedon (Editor’s address) are now in Paull 1.7miles away, Preston 1.4miles, Thorngumbald 1.8miles or Tower House Lane 1.6m. Hedon, therefore, does not have a priority post box since the removal.

In removing the post box, Royal Mail responded promptly to a request from the owner of the old post office. Yet, before removing a post box, as the Royal Mail website reveals, Royal Mail gives certain commitments although they qualify this with the words“where it is possible to do so”.

When a box needs to be taken out of service, either temporarily sealed or permanently removed, a notice will be displayed to tell customers why and give details of the nearest 3 alternative posting facilities.

Where it is possible to do so, we will provide a four week notification to consumers when we plan to remove or relocate a box. However, sometimes a four week period is not possible because a significant proportion of removals and relocations are due to events outside of our control – such as when a box is damaged or stolen.

If we have to remove a posting box

Before we take a decision to remove a postbox, a number of things are taken into consideration:

  • Whether the original issue can be overcome
  • Feasibility of repairing a box
  • Finding a suitable alternative site
  • The distance to and location of the next nearest 3 alternative boxes
  • That the needs of customers in the area will still be met if the box isn’t replaced
  • The number of delivery points which may now be further than half a mile from a box

If a postbox has to be relocated

Where we have to relocate a postbox we will always:

  • Inform customers of the reason why, via a notice on or near the box
  • Consult appropriate parties, such as local councils, land owners and engineering contractors;
  • Complete relocation/repair work within reasonable timescales, usually six months.

Perhaps the removal of our post box on 8 March was urgent? A planning application was pending for the old post office, but this has only just been discussed by Hedon Town Council last night (8 April). This was a full calendar month after the post box was removed, so surely this would have provided ample time for Royal Mail to inform, consult, and engage as outlined above?

We’ve contacted Royal Mail by Online Form three times since 8 March to ask what’s happening regarding the relocation of the post box and asking for a time scale for its replacement. On each occasion, despite latterly asking for more specific information, we have received a standard scripted reply (apparently responding to a request for a post box!):

Thanks for your email regarding your request for a post box to be installed at Market Place. I’d like to take this time to inform you that; as part of our regulatory requirements, we must ensure that there’s a post-box within half a mile of at least 98% of all ‘delivery points’ (usually a customer’s letter-box) nationally.  If the current posting facilities in the above-mentioned area already meet these requirements, your request may be declined.  If the Manager believes the area warrants the installation of a new post-box, we’ll be required to liaise with the Highway Authority to obtain clearance for the proposed site, as well as contacting the utility companies to ensure that the proposed site doesn’t interfere with existing pipes or cables, etc. This process can take up to twelve weeks should your request be approved.  With the above in mind, if a post box hasn’t been installed within 25 weeks from 19/03/2021. it’s likely that the current facilities in the area already meet our requirements and a new post box isn’t warranted.  If you need to contact us again regarding this matter, please remember to quote your reference number

In terms of the lack of information provided and the lack of consultation before removing the post box, the customer service from Royal Mail must be one of the poorest experienced.

If you want to complain about the removal of the post box or ask for further information, you can spend 10 minutes navigating the Royal Mail website. However, this is the link you need to the relevant online form https://personal.help.royalmail.com/app/webforms/contact/c/310

At last night’s meeting of Hedon Town Council, it was reported that we might have to wait 3 or 4 months to get a replacement priority post box! If this is unacceptable to you, then perhaps click the link above and state your case.

You could opt to experience the Royal Mail’s Customer Services via telephone 03457 740 740 open Monday to Friday 8am-6pm and Saturday 8am-1pm. If you’re hard of hearing call 03456 000 606. But read this first: https://personal.help.royalmail.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/307/

Whilst not expecting Royal Mail to suddenly improve on its customer service, perhaps a series of fresh complaints and communications from local residents will compel them to take notice?

Do let us know how you get on!

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