Whitstable Campaign: Save Whitstable and Herne Bay Delivery Offices
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 They’ve spent billions on out-of-date letters technology and a brand new fleet of vans, while closing down local delivery offices: the exact opposite of what’s needed.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?
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- Save Whitstable and Herne Bay Delivery Offices. CJ Stone's speech: pensions, packets & privatisa
The following is the text of a speech made by CJ Stone to the public meeting about the closure of Whitstable and Herne Bay Mail Delivery offices on Tuesday 23rd November at the Whitstable Labour Club.
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.