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Royal Mail have “not enough boots on the ground” in Newbury and Thatcham

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Royal Mail has explained why some residents of Newbury and Thatcham may be experiencing delivery disturbances since New Year's Day.

In addition to limited deliveries over the Christmas and New Year period, the past few weeks saw continued delivery delays as members of Royal Mail staff fell ill.

After receiving no mail over Christmas, due to postponed deliveries between December 25 and December 28, letters came through the door for some residents for three days but then expected deliveries fell back to zero.

Many residents in the Newbury and Thatcham areas have not received any mail over the Christmas period.
Many residents in the Newbury and Thatcham areas have not received any mail over the Christmas period.

Wash Common resident Jeremy Gildersleeves didn’t receive his post for two weeks over the Christmas and New Year period.

From December 22 Mr Gildersleeves and his neighbours reported having no mail come through their letterbox – and they received their first bit of post yesterday (Wednesday).

He said that even before this period, his deliveries had become “very sporadic” and called the issue “bad management”.

Mr Gildersleeves and his wife had a delay in receiving Christmas cards and were late in finding out they had received a wedding invitation but he said he felt “really sorry” for the businesses that may have been waiting for important documentation.

He said: “I tried to get hold of Royal Mail and contact them and they are not answering the phone. My view is there should be a contingency in place.

“We tried to go and collect our mail from the local office, in the published opening hours, and it was closed.”

He added: “I don’t mind if they really haven’t got any people, I don’t mind going down there and collecting my mail if I have to. I don’t want to but if I have to I will.

“I just don’t understand why there is nothing in place, they just closed up shop.”

Mr Gildersleeves said that although Royal Mail staff were hit by sudden illness, after reaching the third year of the pandemic, this “shouldn’t be taking anybody by surprise”.

“What happens if the NHS closed or the binmen closed and just stopped collecting? They have to make contingency plans.”

Royal Mail's customer service staff have said however there simply are not “enough boots on the ground” at the moment.

After returning to work on December 29, staff operated for three days and the service is now “back to some resemblance of normality”.

However, Newbury’s delivery office, on Cheap Street, reported sickness absences on January 4 and was therefore “unable to cope with, and manage, all the walks”.

On December 30 and 31, Thatcham’s delivery office reported “the same issues as Newbury”.

“That’s potentially why there is delay in that area. They have sick absences," the company's customer services found.

“We can’t cover all the walks I am afraid.

“We are trying to get through but there is just not enough boots on the ground at the moment.”

A resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, has raised concerns over the impact this has had on an older family member.

He said: “They have stopped delivering. Then it resumed for a day and then stopped it for a day.”

After visiting the Royal Mail's Thatcham delivery office, on Station Road, he found that this was the result of a staff shortage.

He expressed concern for older members of the public who may be unable to visit delivery offices to collect their mail in this way.

“There’s older people worrying about bills and falling behind.

“They [Royal Mail] should have at least put a leaflet round to let people know that this was happening.”

A statement issued by Royal Mail said: “The vast majority of mail is delivered safely and on time.

“We aim to deliver to all addresses we have mail for, six days a week.”

However, the postal service also said: “In the local area, we have been experiencing some delays to service due to high levels of sickness absence.

“We would like to apologise to this customer for any inconvenience he may have experienced.

“We have been working hard to get our levels of service back to normal as soon as possible and the situation is improving.”

For any further delivery concerns, contact the Royal Mail customer service team on 03457 740740 or visit www.royalmail.com

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