Concern over disabled access arrangements at the Royal Mail Edward Street Collection Office

I have today expressed concern about the poor arrangements for people with mobility difficulties at the Royal Mail Edward Street Collection Office what serves Dundee people with DD1 postcodes and covers the east part of the West End.
 
A constituent recently wrote to me to advise :
 
“I had occasion to collect an envelope from here this afternoon.  I was somewhat surprised to see that not only have they removed the disabled parking space that was adjacent to the office door. They have positioned it at the entrance gate and put railings around the perimeter fence meaning that disabled people (and everyone else) now have to walk a distance to get to the office door.  They have blocked all access to the door other than via this walkway which caused me a deal of inconvenience and pain.
 
Apparently this was done because someone crossing the car park was hit by a van.”
 
I contacted Royal Mail about this and the reply is below :
 
A 44 metre walk from the access point is not acceptable in my view.   It seems Royal Mail is expecting people with mobility difficulties are having to walk far longer than is expected to receive a Blue Badge, which is simply not acceptable.   They should review their parking arrangements to make it far easier for people with mobility difficulties to get easy access to the collection depot entrance.
 
Scottish Government planning guidelines state that “car parking should be allocated convenient to the entrance of the premises”.     The Royal Mail arrangements breach that condition.
 
My constituent added :
 
“I understand the point they make regarding  need to ensure the safety of the public, but that is true of all commercial properties.    I am mobile but walking impaired and I struggled to walk from the front gate to the door of the office, never mind back again.    
It is also a very long way for someone in a wheelchair to have to push themselves, plus it involves negotiating 3 corners that have been created by the barriers and for people who use walking aids. The problem will also get worse when we come into the winter with ice or snow on the ground.  
 
The disabled spaces used to be at the front door and I did think it would still be perfectly feasible to maintain at least one space and leave the access ramp with no barrier around it at that point.  
 
It’s all very well to say that parcels can be redelivered but it’s not always possible to get someone to answer the telephone in the office and things may be required sooner than they can be sent out again.”
 
There is a clear need for Royal Mail to look again at this.   They have got the arrangements for people with mobility difficulties wrong and they really must review this urgently.     I have requested a site visit with senior Royal Mail representatives to meet to discuss possible solutions.

Great War memorial shrine time capsule ceremony

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending the Great War memorial shrine time capsule ceremony at the City Chambers.
 
This hugely well-attended event marked the opening of the time capsule which contained the records and services of Dundee postal workers during the First World War.
 
The time capsule, designed to commemorate the 240 Dundee postal workers who served in the Great War – and in particular the 36 who did not return.   
 
The inscription on the shrine is : “To be opened on 4th August 2014 by the Postmaster in the presence of the then Lord Provost” and, so, fittingly, on the centenary of the day Great Britain entered the First World War, the capsule was so opened.
 
Here are a couple of photographs from today’s moving event :

 

Royal Mail still not listening on mail re-delivery

Back in 2011, Royal Mail closed the well-used and convenient Crichton Street Collection Office, something local residents and I campaigned against, as it means that if residents wish to collect undelivered mail in person at a Royal Mail collection centre, those living in the DD2 area are now covered by the Baird Avenue facility, which is nowhere near the West End and is not well-served by public transport.
 
At the time, I asked Royal Mail if it would allow West End DD2 residents to collect their items at the far more convenient Edward Street facility, but Royal Mail’s position is – and remains – that this facility will deal with DD1 mail only.
 
I have continued to press Royal Mail to consider a minor concession.   For a fee, residents can have mail redelivered to a local Post Office.   For many DD2 residents, the Perth Road Post Office is an obvious centre given its convenient location in the Perth Road shopping area.      However, by about 50 yards, the Perth Road Post Office is in DD1 and Royal Mail’s official position is that it will not to redeliver DD2 mail there (despite the fact that DD2 starts almost across the road at Step Row).   Equally, the Blackness Road Post Office would be a useful redelivery office for many DD2 residents, but again, by the skin of its teeth, it is situated in DD1 (nearby streeets like Abbotsford Place are in DD2).
 
At the time of the Crichton Street Collection Office closure, Royal Mail’s then Scottish Affairs Manager agreed at a West End Community Council meeting to look into the viability of this concession, but Royal Mail has not officially introduced this.
 
As I continue to get regular complaints from residents about the ridiculously unhelpful approach on mail redeliveries on the part of Royal Mail, I wrote again recently to Royal Mail’s Director of External Relations about a review of redirection facilities.   She has now replied as follows:

I am sorry to hear that this matter continues to cause concern.   However, we have no plans to change the current arrangements.  I note your suggestion relating to alternative collection points.

As Perth Road Post Office is outside the DD2 delivery catchment area it is not operationally possible for customers from the DD2 delivery area to collect their items from Perth Road Post Office, which is in the DD1 delivery area.

Customers do not need to pick up parcels if they don’t want to.   Royal Mail offers for items to be redelivered free to their address on a preferred day including Saturdays or to another address n the same post code area.   Royal Mail also uses Delivery to Neighbour where the postman can leave customers items (excluding special delivery items) with a neighbour if this is feasible, unless customer wish to opt out of this service.   Full details of the options are available on our website www.royalmail.com.

Customers in the DD2 postcode have the option of having their item redelivered, for a small fee, to the following Post Office branches for collection:

PO 29 Craigowan Road DD2  4NN
PO Muirhead of Liff DD2  5QN
PO 55 Main Street Invergowrie DD2  5BE
PO Lochee Methven Street DD2  3DD
PO 156 Lochee Road DD2  2LD
PO Longforgan DD2  5EW
Leaving aside the sheer unhelpfulness of Royal Mail’s position in not officially allowing DD2 mail to be redirected to convenient Post Offices like Blackness Road and Perth Road, it is rather ironic that the “alternatives” listed above include the Lochee Road Post Office that Post Office Limited closed back in 2008!     Other Post Offices listed above – at Liff, Charleston and Longforgan – are clearly totally inconvenient for West End residents.
 
Royal Mail really does have to consider a more customer-friendly approach to mail redeliveries – the present situation is highly unsatisfactory and will inevitably continue to result in complaints from residents of the West End.

Further operational changes by Royal Mail in Dundee

Royal Mail has announced that changes to postal arrangements in the Dundee West Delivery Office area that were introduced at the end of March will now be extended to the Dundee Central Delivery Office area and this will affect all residents in the DD1 (Central Dundee) area and the DD6 area (parts of North East Fife, including Wormit, Tayport and Newport-on-Tay).
 
The changes are part of the “Way Forward” introduced by Royal Mail and I had already obtained assurances about the quality of service deliver in the Dundee West area, given the problems a similar introduction had caused some time ago in Dundee East.   
 
I am pleased that Royal Mail gave assurances about no adverse effect on mail deliveries in Dundee West and it is important that residents in the DD1 part of my ward also see no deterioration in the quality of postal deliveries.   I would urge any constituent with any concerns about their mail deliveries to get in touch.

Assurances sought on operational changes by Royal Mail in the West End

I recently sought assurances from Royal Mail regarding their changes to mail deliveries across Dundee West that will start in the DD2 part of the West End next Monday.   The DD1 part of our area is thus far not affected.
 
The changes are part of the “Way Forward” introduced by Royal Mail and I sought assurances given the problems a similar introduction had caused some time ago in Dundee East.
 
The response from Royal Mail is here:
 
Dear Councillor Macpherson
Thank you for your email of 8 March 2013 about mail services in the Dundee West area.
Royal Mail is implementing a fundamental change in the way we work across our delivery operations.  This is part of our rolling programme of modernisation which is being introduced in delivery offices across the UK. This is in order to accommodate the changing traffic mix – more parcels and fewer letters.  We need to modernise in order to maintain the universal service, not changing will put this at risk and we are committed to ensuring we can continue to deliver to 29 million addresses in the UK, 6 days a week, at a universal postage rate. 
We have begun to introduce a number of operational changes in the Dundee West area and these changes involve new ways of working.  This is predominately that our postmen and women are starting to make their deliveries with light weight trolleys from a small van instead of carrying a traditional bag on their shoulder.  This reflects the significant increase in the number of parcel; deliveries that we are now making and equips us with the continued growth in e-retailing going forward.  The first changes began in rural areas week commencing 4 March 2013, followed by the DD3 area.  Changes in the DD2 area begin week commencing 25th March 2013.  We are not making any changes in the DD1 area.
As part of these changes and to improve our customer experience our delivery times have increased which means people will spend more time delivering mail.  In addition twelve of our officers have changed their hours from part time to full time.  We have also invested in an additional 16 vehicles and a large number of Postal Digital Assistants (PDA) to help with deliveries.  Lightweight trolleys have also been introduced which will help prevent our people carrying heavy bags.
Deliveries to firms in the DD2 and DD3 areas remain unchanged and business customers will not notice any changes.  Some residential customers may get mail at a different time either earlier or later depending on where they are on route
We appreciate any changes may impact on our customers and our planning activities always give careful consideration as to how we can best protect and serve their interest.  It is vital that we are able to invest in new technology and equipment and upgrade operational facilities.  This helps to ensure that we have world class facilities which provide the most efficient and effective network for delivering the post.  Careful planning is made to ensure that customers – both business and residential – continue to receive the best possible service from Royal Mail.  
I have spoken to Ms Sarah Ward who is in charge of the delivery changes in Dundee West.  She reports that the changes so far have been implemented smoothly and without any difficulties being experienced.  I hope this will reassure you.  
Many thanks for contacting Royal Mail.  Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any further questions.  
 
Yours sincerely
Felicity MacFarlane
External Relations Manager (North) 
Royal Mail 
 
I am pleased that Royal Mail has given assurances about no adverse effect on mail deliveries but I would urge any constituent with any concerns about their mail deliveries to get in touch.