Roseangle pillar box repaired

I recently advised that I had reported to Royal Mail the fact their postbox in Roseangle had been damaged by a vehicle – see right.
 
Royal Mail has now advised me :
 
“I can confirm that, after making enquiries with the Collection Planning Manager, the box has now been reinstalled.
 
Thanks again for bringing this to our attention and I hope you’ll be pleased with the outcome.”

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.

Royal Mail’s position on mail re-delivery ridiculous

I have today slammed Royal Mail’s position on mail re-deliveries in the West End.  It follows a request made by myself and West End Community Council to allow residents who have a DD2 postcode to have their undelivered mail and parcels to be picked up at the Perth Road Post Office should they wish.    
 
I have previously criticised Royal Mail for closing its well-used and very accessible Collection Office in Crichton Street.      Mail and parcels that are undelivered are now redirected to the Edward Street Sorting Office for DD1 customers and Baird Avenue for DD2 and DD3 customers.    As Baird Avenue is not near the West End and is very inaccessible by public transport, West End Community Council and I asked Royal Mail to have West End DD2 customers’ mail sorted at Edward Street rather than Baird Avenue, as Edward Street is a much better location.   However, addressing a West End Community Council meeting in April, the then Scottish Affairs Manager at Royal Mail said that Royal Mail would not use the Edward Street facility for the sorting of its DD2 customers’ mail.
 
The then Scottish Affairs Manager at Royal Mail rejected the requests made by the Community Council, myself and local residents to keep the Crichton Street facility open or use their much more accessible Edward Street Sorting Office for all West End mail rather than having people have to find their way to the remote Baird Avenue facility.    However, at the meeting, the Royal Mail representative did say he would look into the viability of allowing DD2 residents of the West End to request that their undelivered mail be picked up by them at the Perth Road Post Office.    At the moment, as the Perth Road Post Office is in the DD1 area by just a matter of yards, only mail and packages that are for DD1 households can be collected there.
 
The Perth Road Post Office is a well-used Post Office, accessible and also very close to the start of DD2 households to the immediate west and north of the Post Office.    It strikes me that, although we would have much rather seen the retention of the Crichton Street office, at least allowing all West End residents the opportunity to pick up parcels and undelivered mail at the Perth Road Post Office would of some help.
 
However, having contacted Julie Pirone, Director of Communications Scotland at Royal Mail recently about another constituent’s complaint about Royal Mail’s unwillingness to redirect their parcel to the Perth Road Post Office because the resident lives “over the Postcode boundary” into DD2, I have received the following response from Ms Pirone:
 
“I am sorry for the problems your constituent had when attempting to arrange redelivery of her item.   We always do our best to resolve any problems our customers may have with the delivery of their mail and I apologies again that we failed on this occasion.
 
Whilst I would agree that there have been a number of issues around the caller’s office move from Crichton Street to Baird Avenue I want to reassure you that our main objective is to ensure the continued provision of postal service in the community.
 
As you are aware Perth Road Post Office is outside the DD2 delivery area and mail is delivered by Dundee Central delivery office (DD1).   As we do not redeliver mail outside of the intended recipients’ postcode area this may inconvenience some customers more than others.    However, we have no plans at the current time to change this practice.”
 
I think Royal Mail’s position is ridiculous and shows a real lack of good customer relations.    There are properties in – for example, Step Row and Hawkhill – that are in DD2 but are literally a stone’s throw from the Perth Road Post Office but they can’t collect their undelivered mail from their local Post Office, according to Royal Mail.     
 
I have asked the Director of Communications Scotland at Royal Mail for a rethink on the matter.

Royal Mail collection office issue – again

Last night at West End Community Council, Ian McKay, Scottish Affairs Manager at Royal Mail, spoke to a well-attended community council meeting on the continuing concerns that the Community Council and I have with mail collection, following the closure of the Crichton Street Collection Office.

Although the Edward Street depot is handy for some West End residents in the Blackness/Milnbank area, for many West End residents it is not a convenient location.  It is not an easy walk for an elderly person travelling by bus.   From both the 17 and 22 services’ routes, the walk is hilly in places. 

Significantly more worrying, people in the large DD2 area in the West End and elsewhere in Dundee West and in the DD3 area elsewhere in the west of the city now have to use the Baird Avenue facility.   Baird Avenue is utterly hopeless if you rely on public transport.

Mr McKay, although indicating Royal Mail would continue to “look at” the issue, gave no commitment to do what the Community Council and I would like to see happen – that residents in the West End part of DD2 at least get to collect items from the much-nearer Edward Street depot than the much further away and inaccessible Baird Avenue facility.   However, he did say that a trial in Edinburgh of a new method of Royal Mail customers being able to opt to have items left with a neighbour (as Royal Mail’s competitors already offer) was proving successful and should the Regulator allow its general introduction across the UK, this would at least allow for an additional way of undelivered mail being re-delivered.

I read part of a letter from a West End constituent to the meeting as follows :

Mr McKay indicated that there may be work around to allow DD2 items to be redirected to the Perth Road Post Office and he committed to looking into this.


The outcome of the meeting does not give from Royal Mail what I or the Community Council wish to see – a good, local collection point for the West End.   I will continue to campaign for this on behalf of our local community.

West End Community Council meeting

Last night, I attended the latest meeting of West End Community Council at which there was a very informative and detailed presentation from the City Council’s Recycling Projects Officer about the current position of recycling efforts in Dundee and future plans to further extend recycling opportunities for residents.

I have, on many occasions on behalf of West End constituents, asked about extending the kerbside plastics and bottles recycling facility that currently only covers a limited number of parts of the West End.   It was therefore good to hear last night that the council is, later this year, to be undertaking an additional trial of 3000 households who currently do not have the plastics recycling facility – they will be offered a larger plastics recycling bin that will take a wider range of recyclables.   I specifically requested that West End households are offered this new facility.   I was also pleased to learn that, in the second half of this one year additional trial, some flatted properties will be offered the facility.    I made the point that many constituents who live in tenements in the West End do not currently get the range of recycling facilities offered to other households, so this is welcome news.

It was also good to hear how successful the food recycling trial is going.     The Recycling Projects Officer also advised that new “recycling on the go” points will soon be available at specific sites such as Camperdown Park.     Speaking with her during the meeting’s teabreak, she indicated that Nethergate at DCA was being considered for one of these facilities and I also suggested Lochee Park and Magdalen Green as possible sites.

The Community Council also discussed the on-going issue of Royal Mail delivery problems, in the main caused by the difficulties facing many local residents by the closure of the parcel collection office in Crichton Street and the fact that DD2 and DD3 customers now have to collect items from the remote Baird Avenue Collection Office.    I also mentioned that I have had numerous complaints from constituents about wrongly delivered mail in recent months.

Royal Mail’s Director of Scottish Affairs is attending the next Community Council meeting on Tuesday 10th April to discuss the various concerns that have been raised about mail deliveries in the West End – all residents are welcome (and indeed encouraged) to attend this and the Community Council would welcome any feedback residents have about mail delivery problems (you can contact the Community Council by using the contact form at http://tinyurl.com/contactwecc).    I have a considerable list already of constituent concerns that I have passed on to Royal Mail and will be raising on 10th April and, as always, are very happy to help residents with any concern they have about this or any other local concern.

I also had the opportunity last night to mention the impending graffiti clean-up and litter pick in the West End that I am helping to organise for 16th May.   We have already had an excellent response from local organisations and many community councillors also offered their help at last night’s meeting.

City Council meeting with Royal Mail

Along with another eight Dundee City Councillors and the council’s Chief Executive, I today met with senior officials from Royal Mail in the hope of persuading Royal Mail to think again over its closure of the Crichton Street Collection Office.    Unfortunately, there was no willingness shown by Royal Mail at the meeting to reconsider the closure decision.

It is disappointing that Royal Mail is unwilling to reconsider the closure of the Crichton Street facility.   All nine councillors who attended the meeting – representing wards right across Dundee – highlighted the many concerns raised by customers that, given that the Crichton Street Office was a very central facility in the city and the alternative facilities are not located in the city centre, this closure is having a detrimental impact on customers, particularly those who rely on public transport to visit Royal Mail facilities.

It was a lengthy meeting but at the end of it, what was very clear is that Royal Mail is not going to reconsider the closure or look for alternative City Centre facilities and that’s a deeply regrettable situation.

A number of us also highlighted the ridiculous result that residents in parts of the West End who live very close to the Edward Street collection office but, because their postcode is DD2 rather than DD1, have to go all the way to the remote Baird Avenue collection centre to collect their item.    It would make far more sense that this part of DD2 did not have to travel to Baird Avenue, given the distance and the extremely poor public transport links.

The Royal Mail officials did agree to look again at the disabled access at Baird Avenue and signage at the office and also indicated that a pilot was being introduced elsewhere in Scotland that, if successful, would widen the re-delivery opportunities for customers.   However, although all the councillors present stressed the loss Crichton Street’s facility was a real loss to Royal Mail customers, it is clear that Royal Mail officials are not willing to reconsider the decision.    This will be greeted with dismay by the large number of West End residents who have expressed concern about the loss of the long-standing City Centre collection office.

Crichton Street Royal Mail Collection Office : Latest

As Royal Mail closes the Crichton Street Collection Office for DD2 and DD3 customers today and moves facilities to the remote Baird Avenue offices, I was on Radio Tay News this morning about the continuing campaign to have a City Centre facility for collections (click ‘play’ below to listen).

Dundee City Council’s Chief Executive confirmed to me this morning that Royal Mail will meet with councillors this Friday afternoon to discuss our concerns about the loss of this facility in the City Centre.

Campaigning to save the Crichton Street collection office

At tonight’s City Council meetings, I raised concerns at the Policy & Resources Committee about the recent decision of Royal Mail Group to close its Crichton Street Enquiry Office and relocate its functions, from 29th August to the Edward Street Delivery Office for customers living in the DD1 postal area, and from 5th September to the Dundee West Delivery Office, Baird Avenue, for customers living in the DD2 and DD3 postal areas.

I highlighted the many concerns raised by customers that, given that the Crichton Street Enquiry Office is a very central facility in the city and the alternative facilities are not located in the city centre, this will have a detrimental impact on customers, particularly those who rely on public transport to visit Royal Mail facilities.

My motion asked the council’s Chief Executive to write to the Director of Scottish Affairs, Royal Mail Group, outlining the City Council’s concerns at the decision to close the Crichton Street Enquiry Office, requesting that Royal Mail Group postpones the Crichton Street Enquiry Office closure pending further discussion with the City Council and invites the Director of Scottish Affairs, Royal Mail Group, to meet with the Chief Executive and City Councillors on the matter. The motion was unanimously agreed, with an addition from the Convener about the consultation process.   I was pleased to mention that DD One, the City Centre’s Business voice, has contacted me, voicing its support for the campaign to save the Crichton Street collection office.

What was important tonight was that the City Council spoke with one voice over the proposed closure of an accessible Royal Mail facility and it was good to see all-party support on the matter.

At the same committee, I asked a question about the sustainability of jobs for Dundee citizens under the Employability Programme.    

At the Housing Committee, I asked about improving tenant satisfaction with the Housing Department’s performance and at City Development Committee, I praised the continuing great performance by the street lighting partnership.