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Concerned New Forest residents call for Royal Mail to deliver answers after slowdown in post

POSTAL delays have been hitting New Forest residents, with one couple not having a single card delivered on their birthdays.

They have demanded answers from Royal Mail after the frequency of visits by their postie plummeted.

The postal service told the A&T there have been route and shift changes, and that it was prioritising the “safety and wellbeing” of staff.

Posted birthday cards failed to arrive for both George and Elizabeth Watkins
Posted birthday cards failed to arrive for both George and Elizabeth Watkins

It also pointed to disruption sparked by coronavirus absences and annual leave, and said it was looking to recruit temporary staff.

George Watkins and his wife Elizabeth realised something was amiss when cards they knew had been sent for their recent 78th birthdays failed to arrive at their home in Sway Road, Brockenhurst.

Two weekly magazine subscriptions also disappeared for about three consecutive weeks.

“We haven’t had anything with a stamp on it for a month,” Mr Watkins told the A&T last week.

“My birthday was in August and I didn’t receive a card my son said he had sent. He’s also posted a gift voucher and it’s not arrived.

“My wife’s birthday was last week and we knew of three birthday cards that were sent but didn’t arrive.”

The couple’s neighbours, Derek Bucknall (84) and his wife Pamela (82), also noticed a slowdown in post.

“It’s so unusual as to be slightly nerve-racking,” Mr Bucknall said. “I’m just one of quite a few neighbours we know of who are quite concerned about it.

“We sometimes get letters about hospital appointments and issues like that, so I’m quite conscious that we haven’t had any communication in that context, so we don’t know what we’re missing.”

Pennington resident Helen Dennett (42) told the A&T a dress she bought for a horse riding event failed to arrive two weeks after being sent first class.

Mrs Dennett noticed other mail was not appearing as expected at her Howards Mead home where she and her husband have lived for 22 years.

“Even through all the lockdowns and everything they’ve been brilliant,” she said.

“They do an amazing job, but whatever it is at the moment – whether it’s self-isolation or driver shortages – there’s definitely a blockage in the system somewhere.

“Luckily, anything particularly important we usually have sent to us through email.”

Another resident, Jan Hawksworth (73), had the same issue with birthday cards not arriving at her home in Beresford Road, Lymington, until four days later.

Last Friday she finally received a batch of post, including two parcels posted on 1st September, one of which contained a batch of thank-you cards she planned to send for presents.

Another Lymington resident, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed to have been told the problem was caused by changes at the town’s delivery office.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our colleagues is our number one priority at Royal Mail.

“We are working hard to support our colleagues in the Lymington delivery office as they look to deliver the best service possible and minimise any disruption that may be caused by a mix of Covid-related absences, moving routes for some of its shifts, and annual leave.

“As part of this process, we are working to ensure all colleagues have a fair workload.

“This includes looking to offer overtime to those who want it and recruiting temporary staff if required.”

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