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Available in the market city of Amersham on the sting of the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire, Christmas appeared to reach a bit late this yr. Households complained that they didn’t get their typical flurry of playing cards dropping on their doormats till the primary week of 2022.

Some residents mentioned they barely noticed a postal employee final month however, within the new yr, there was a sudden deluge of late cards and lacking put up.

There have been notifications about hospital appointments that had been missed, essential authorized paperwork that had been delayed for weeks, and even a loss of life certificates that had been caught within the put up.

“It has been chaos,” mentioned Karen Martin, 75, an artist and former midwife. “Seven or eight of my Christmas playing cards arrived just a few days in the past. I used to be additionally despatched a cheque within the put up on 16 December and it nonetheless hasn’t arrived.”

Kathleen Williamson, a singer and music teacher from Amersham, said the bulk of her Christmas mail did not arrive until 5 January
Kathleen Williamson, a singer and music trainer from Amersham, mentioned the majority of her Christmas mail didn’t arrive till 5 January.

Kathleen Williamson, 43, a singer and music trainer, mentioned: “There was barely any put up earlier than Christmas after which every part got here without delay on 5 January. I really feel sorry for the postal staff as a result of they’re actually making an attempt.”

Martin Tett, chief of Buckinghamshire council, has written to Keith Williams, the Royal Mail chairman, complaining that one resident acquired 24 Christmas playing cards on 5 January. The native sorting workplace has been inundated with house owners hoping to seek out their lacking mail.

“We’ve had individuals complaining they’ve not had a supply in a month,” mentioned Tett. “There are queues across the Amersham sorting workplace and residents have been instructed there are stacks of unsorted put up inside. The service has been atrocious.”

It’s not just a few residential areas of Amersham which have fallen right into a postal black gap over the previous few months. On 22 July final yr, throughout what postal watchdog Ofcom mentioned was a “regulatory emergency interval”, there have been simply 10 areas in England that have been suffering significant disruption to mail.

Final Tuesday, the quantity had risen to 77 areas in England, and there have been one other 18 areas affected in Wales and Scotland, in response to Royal Mail.

Greater than 120 postal districts have been hit throughout the nation over the Christmas and new yr interval, together with areas in London, Oxford, Chelmsford, Sheffield, Merseyside and Glasgow.

Homeowners have complained of a deteriorating service over many months. The variety of postal districts affected final week is the highest-ever recorded within the Royal Mail disruption updates.

The bosses of Royal Mail now face scrutiny over their efficiency – and the justification for large payouts to shareholders.

The postal big increased the price of a first-class stamp to 85p from March 2020, an increase of 21%. It made £726m profit earlier than tax within the yr to twenty-eight March 2021 and in November introduced a £400m payout via a special dividend and share buyback.

On the identical time, it has repeatedly did not hit its supply targets, blaming Covid-related isolation, emptiness charges and sickness. Beneath the Postal Providers Act 2011, the Royal Mail has a authorized “common service obligation” to supply a six-day-a-week service for the supply and assortment of letters. Matthew Upton, director of coverage at Residents Recommendation, mentioned: “We all know [postal workers] are working exhausting to ship our letters and parcels however we’re more and more involved about Royal Mail delays.”

Executives will likely be eager to enhance efficiency and there’s a reorganisation in progress.

The Observer has confirmed that Achim Dünnwald, chief working officer at Royal Mail, has just lately stepped down, however the firm mentioned this weekend it could not touch upon the phrases of his departure. Two senior “service supply administrators” have additionally left their roles.

Paul Dornan, 48, a author who lives in Crouch Finish, north London, mentioned the same old put up rounds in his neighbourhood had stopped for a couple of month over the Christmas interval.

He mentioned: “Troopers used to ship letters again from the entrance within the first world conflict that arrived the subsequent day and the Royal Mail can’t ship a card from Yorkshire inside a month.

“The postal service has damaged down on this space. Some individuals have resorted to going to the sorting workplace, however have been instructed: there’s a lot unsorted stuff we will’t give it to you.

“The Royal Mail are shovelling money into the pockets of their shareholders, however they don’t seem to be delivering the put up. It’s an enormous dereliction of responsibility.”

Helen Wallis, 67, from Herne Hill in south London, whose husband, Gary, died in November, mentioned she had not acquired essential paperwork involving the administration of his affairs due to postal delays in her neighbourhood.

She mentioned though postal staff have been doing a “outstanding job” in troublesome circumstances, there was only one postal supply in her neighbourhood between Christmas Eve and final Monday. “I’m nonetheless getting condolence playing cards and I’m nonetheless getting Christmas playing cards,” she mentioned final week. “Numerous them are usually not postmarked.”

Helen Hayes, the Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, has highlighted the persevering with postal delays in her constituency after the closure of a predominant postal depot with out session in East Dulwich in south-east London in 2018.

She mentioned: “There is no such thing as a criticism of frontline postal staff, who’ve been actually courageous, however there is no such thing as a slack within the system. There are essential paperwork being delayed, loss of life certificates going lacking and folks moving into a multitude with their payments.” She mentioned the Royal Mail needs to be required to publish efficiency knowledge by particular person postcode districts and introduce public consultations for proposed closures of mail depots.

Terry Pullinger, deputy basic secretary (postal) of the Communication Staff Union, mentioned solely a minority of places of work had skilled backlogs, however extra sources have been required in these areas. He mentioned: “There clearly have been issues and so they should be sorted out. It’s unacceptable the place places of work have been failing for quite a few weeks and the sources haven’t been put in place.”

A Royal Mail spokesperson mentioned the variety of affected areas had been lowered over the previous week. He mentioned it was offering focused help for the affected areas and was persevering with to make important funding within the enterprise to rework the operation.

The spokesperson mentioned: “Our postmen and ladies are persevering with to work extremely exhausting, as they’ve accomplished all through the pandemic, and we’re grateful for all of their efforts and dedication.”

The spokesperson added that the corporate tried to maintain the worth of stamps as little as attainable, however wanted to make sure there have been adequate funds for funding.

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