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Royal Mail slows service in many areas to cope with pressure from Covid-19

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Royal Mail has listed 28 areas of the UK that will not receive post on time due to a combination of staff sickness, the need for extra precautions to protect from the virus, and higher than usual volumes of post.

The service said that 27 areas in England would be affected, including 13 in or near London alongside Leeds in West Yorkshire, Chelmsford in Essex, Widnes in Cheshire and Margate in Kent. An additional zone, Magherafelt, a small town in Northern Ireland, will also suffer a restricted service.

Some residents in the areas have already complained that they have not received any post for more than a month, with fears that this could disproportionately affect elderly residents who are typically more reliant on the service.

Valerie Wallbank from Hainault in north-east London told the Ilford Recorder she had not received any mail since December 12.

“It’s quite serious,” she told the paper. “Some people are not bothered because they do everything online, but for some of us it’s quite important.”

Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford, has expressed concern that letters sent to residents advising them of when to attend appointments to get vaccinated could be delayed. He has asked business minister Nadhim Zahawi if this post could be prioritised.

The Communication Workers Union has said postal workers should be added to the priority list of people receiving coronavirus vaccinations in order to keep the vital service running efficiently.

In a statement published with the list on its website, Royal Mail says it is “working hard to deliver the most comprehensive and high-quality service we can to all our customers” despite the pandemic and the associated rise in pressure on delivery resources due to increased online shopping.

“The combination of greatly increased uptake of online shopping, and the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, mean that all delivery companies are experiencing exceptionally high volumes,” the statement says.

“Every single parcel and letter is important to us. Despite our best efforts and significant investment in extra resource, some customers may experience slightly longer delivery timescales than our usual service standards.

“This is due to the exceptionally high volumes we are seeing, exacerbated by the coronavirus-related measures we have put in place in local mail centres and delivery offices to keep our people and customers safe. In such cases, we always work hard to get back to providing our usual level of service as quickly as we can.”

The full list of affected areas is:

  • Ashford (TN23-TN27)
  • Barnsley (S70, S71, S72 and S75)
  • Basildon (SS13-SS16)
  • Bow (E3)
  • Bury St Edmunds (IP28-IP33)
  • Chelmsford (CM1-CM3)
  • Christchurch (BH23)
  • Daventry (NN11)
  • Debden (IG7-IG10)
  • Enfield (EN1-EN3)
  • Grays (RM16-RM20)
  • Hampton (TW12)
  • Highbury (N5)
  • Hornsey (N8)
  • Horsham (RH12, RH13)
  • Ilford (IG1-IG6)
  • Leeds City (LS1-LS5)
  • Lewisham (SE13)
  • Magherafelt (BT45, BT46)
  • Margate (CT7-CT9)
  • Rugeley (WS15)
  • Somerton (TA11)
  • South Ockendon (RM15)
  • South Woodford (E18)
  • Upper Holloway (N7)
  • Wandsworth (SW18)
  • Wellington (TA21)
  • Widnes (WA8)

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