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Friday, 13 September 2013

Storm in a tea-cup?

Suddenly the media is alive with stories for and against privatisation. The Today programme on Radio 4 interviewed representatives from both sides. Then they broadcast a dystopian and a utopian view of the self-off.
Now, social media is full of posts urging against the sell-off.

To me it's history repeating. The biggest sell-offs were in the 1980s under a former Tory leadership. Okay so in theory there's a coalition, but who wears the trousers? Tories of course! 

Many folk may have a child-like view of our mail services as shown in the children's series about Postman Pat and his black and white cat.

John Cunliffe wrote the books and scripts which were animated and directed by Ivor Wood. The first episode, was broadcast on 16 September 1981. He painted in words idyllic scenes of rural life with a lovable postman and Jess, his ever-faithful cat.

One of my uncles was a postman in the 1950s and this was probably when the mail service had a good reputation. Unfortunately this image soon became tarnished. Today's incarnation bearing no resemblance to the good old days. 

Now, when you post something you hope it will arrive at its destination, but there's no guarantee. Some folk are duped into paying for an assortment of over-priced services in the hope of guaranteed delivery. One of them being registered post. Money for old rope as the saying goes.

My uncle had a fixed route and like Pat got to know folk on his route.Those were the times of two deliveries  a day.

There was none of the mass-marketing of junk mail so prevalent today. Now we need the Mail Preference Service to opt out of some of the mailings. 
In the sixties regional newspapers got together to investigate the mail service. It was quite simple. Mail was sent from the towns by the local newspapers to given addresses and a record kept and published of the results. Some places fared worse than others. 

1512 - Sir Brian Tuke appointed Minister of the Posts (Henry VIII)
1635 - Charles I postal service
1660 - Charles II public post office
1783 - Postmen had a uniform
1840 - Penny black postage stamp
1852 - Green post box (Jersey)
1881 - Postal Order
1968 - 2nd class stamps
1990 - Parcelforce
2001 - £2 million (wasted) spent on re-branding, mail service now called 'Consignia'
2002 - Renamed 'Royal Mail Group'. 
2006 - PostComm became regulator and mail lost its monopoly.
2007 - 2500 branches faced closure.
2009 - Labour gov proposed privatisation and were defeated by CWU union (Commercial Workers Union)
2010 - Coalition wanted to sell off the delivery side of the business.
2012 - Historic assets and liabilities of the Royal Mail pension scheme taken on by gov.
2013 - Second attempt by a gov Coalition to privatise. Opposition from CWU who propose strike action.

Full details can be read in the Telegraph (aka Torygraph)

From a personal standpoint, I have suffered from the vagaries of the postal system time and again. 


  • 1980s strikes by postal workers led to tonnes of mail being destroyed rather than delivered. I lost photographs. Then there have been various other irregularities:
  • Exam papers found thrown away instead of delivery.
  • Postal workers charged/imprisoned for siphoning off some mail and failing to delivery quantities of mail.
  • The predilection of delivery drivers to arrive with card saying 'sorry you were out' instead of waiting for the door to be answered and in some cases not even attempting to knock or ring the bell.

The sorting office most prone to strike action and failure to make deliveries has since been closed.

Now, although the postal delivery folk I've met at the door have been pleasant, our usual guy doesn't come very often. Guessing he's suffering from stress, sometimes he remains in the local sorting office. This means his round is tacked on to another person's and if we are 'lucky' delivery is late afternoon.

Today was the giddy limit! Two letters (badly written) both dated mid-July flopped onto the mat.




2 comments:

Sayre said...

Every where is having the same issues. The US Postal system is having its own problems. As they try to come up with solutions, they present them to the public and some things fly and others don't. We do have optional delivery services that people pay for (UPS, FedEx, DHL) but the mail itself stays with the government. It's interesting to see the tweaks they're coming up with - but overall, I'm quite happy with our mail service. I'm sorry to hear that the UK is having such problems - especially since I mail things to my grandmother in Wales!

joanygee said...

We too have those US firms and they put our own mail service to shame. The problems are patchy, some places are better than others.