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Whitstable Campaign: Save Whitstable and Herne Bay Delivery Offices

Updated on September 17, 2016
Whitstable Views profile image

CJ Stone is a writer and a postal worker. He has lived in Whitstable for over thirty years.

Whitstable Delivery Office: needs expanding not closing
Whitstable Delivery Office: needs expanding not closing

Whitstable and Herne Bay Delivery Offices are going to close.

The ostensible reason is that the offices are too small to take the new walk-sequencing machines that are being introduced in the name of “modernisation”. So rather than bringing the letters to the offices, the offices will have to be moved to the letters.

Where’s the logic in this? There are about fifty workers in the Whitstable office. Every one of them will have to do four car journeys a day: into and out of work, and to and from their round. That’s two hundred car journeys every day in place of one lorry-load of letters.

You can double that figure to account for Herne Bay. So much for sustainability.

Meanwhile, according to the Royal Mail’s own figures, the number of letters is dropping. This is because of new technology, such as email and text. At the same time, as every postal worker knows, the number of packages are increasing.

The same technology which has cut into the letters business also allows customers to buy books and other large items over the internet. Ebay and Amazon have replaced utility bills and personal letters as the Royal Mail’s main business.

The point about packages is that they won’t fit through letter boxes, which means that, if a customer is out, the postal worker will have to leave a card and the customer will have to pick up their packets from the delivery office.

So what have the Royal Mail done? They’ve spent billions on out-of-date letters technology and a brand new fleet of vans, while closing down local delivery offices: the exact opposite of what’s needed.

This is a clear case of short-term thinking. The delivery office sites are prime real estate. They are being sold off now, in advance of privatisation, in order to temporarily boost profits while permanently undermining the service.

A saner option would have the company investing in delivery offices, opening up the facilities, and employing more staff to serve the increasing numbers of customers.

But since when did sanity get in the way of profitability?


1. The environment. It’s around seven miles to Military Road from either of the towns. That’s a fourteen mile round trip for postal workers, firstly to get into work, and then to start their rounds, where currently they either walk or cycle. There are fifty workers in each office. That’s up to 200,000 extra miles of travel each year.
2. Pollution. Up to 100 Royal Mail vans leaving Military Road office just after the rush hour, in an area which has already been flagged for air quality.
3. Parking. At least 40 workers will be looking for parking spaces around the delivery office, causing further congestion and annoyance to people either living in the area or wanting to park there.
4. Inconvenience. Again, a fourteen mile round trip or two buses each way. Not everyone will want their parcels left with their neighbour, and not everyone will be able to have their parcels redelivered.
5. Cost to the Royal Mail. Currently it takes minutes for postal workers to start their round. From Canterbury it will up to an hour’s travelling there and back during work hours, which will cost in the region of £200,000 a year in wages alone, not to speak of petrol costs and wear and tear on the vehicles.
6. Loss of competitive advantage. The Royal Mail’s main advantage over its rivals is its network of local delivery offices. Shut the delivery offices down and there’s no difference between the Royal Mail and the rest of the private mail companies.
7. Unfair to old age pensioners and disabled people. The journey to Canterbury will be particularly hard for older people and disabled people. The company should be trying to make life easier for the less able, not more difficult.
8. Jobs. With work starting and ending in Canterbury the jobs will shift to Canterbury too, thus severing the link between postal workers and the communities they serve.


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    • Whitstable Views profile image

      Whitstable Views 7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Amanda, Chris is partially right and partially wrong. It's true that as postal workers we are carrying more weight now than we ever did, but it's also true that the volume of letters is down, despite Downstream Access. This is because there are less postal workers than there used to be. Junk mail, catalogues charity stuff and door to door take just as long to sort as they ever did, and the bags are even heavier.

      Kate, I don't know what will happen with PO box stuff. You'll need to speak to someone at the office to find that out. Don't know what will happen to the staff either, though the relentless pressure is for less people to do more work, so I expect there will be redundancies.

    • profile image

      Kate 7 years ago

      Do you know what will happen to PO Box facilities, currently we collect our mail for the charity we run for refugees from the Whitstable sorting office.We do get a regular mail concerning letters from our funders, solicitors' letters, letters from our detained clients, letters containing donations. Email is not confidential and hard copies are essential. I will support the fight to keep these offices open? What happens to the staff? Redundancies?

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

      Hmm, from a postman's point of view, things probably haven't changed too much. The bags are still as heavy. The trudge is just as long. The difference of course, is at the sorting office end. I'm assuming that junk mail, catalogues, charity stuff, and Door 2 Door leaflets, don't require too much in the way of actual sorting?

    • profile image

      Chris 7 years ago

      Amanda I've been a delivery postman for 7 years and the whole mail is dropping thing is complete rubbish. I'm delivering more letters now than I was 5 years ago. RM is cooking the figures, sure items posted through RM is down but the amount that comes via our competitors has rocketed up! This is called Down Stream Access and I wonder if RM chooses to ignore that when collecting it's "figures" Sure some people have switched to paperless billing but the amount of junk mail, catalogues and charity stuff (not counting the Door 2 Door leaflets) has quite frankly exploded. Letter post will soon be limited to greetings What planet are you from?

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      As Amanda says, this really makes no sense. Short-term-ism at its worst.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

      Chris, this is madness! Makes you wonder who takes these decisions. Shopping on the net is set to increase year on year, whilst letter post will soon be limited to greetings cards and not much else.

    • profile image

      diogenes 7 years ago

      Haven't you given up on this dump yet? I believe Cameron (or the royal pirate) is taking violin lessons.

      Good to see your name in lights...Bob