A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Why Didn't the Postman Cross the Road? To Appease 'Elf and Safety

Royal Mail Postal Worker on Trusty Bike
Even chickens are allowed to cross the road...simply to get to the other side. But apparently, chickens don't have to obey the choking Health and Safety Regulations of one English village. Workers in the quiet village of Goodworth Clatford in Hampshire have been instructed to go down one side of the street and then up the next side to minimize road crossings. Never mind that it takes longer to deliver the mail and hardly a car passes through the village except when children are being picked up from the local schools. The traffic is non-existent by the time that the postal workers are going on their "appointed rounds" (as they say in the States.)

Postal workers are upset because they are having to really push themselves to make all their deliveries in a timely fashion as it is taking so much longer to get the mail delivered. Some post is taking two full hours longer to get to homes.  The postmistress gave the word earlier that there would be "changes" in the system and then this new delivery system was implemented. Hampshire County Council member, David Drew said that workers are "grown adults and are big enough to decide for themselves whether it is safe to cross the road or not." The Royal Mail responded by simply stating that: "Delivery routes are planned to be completed as efficiently and safely as possible and in the majority of cases is to deliver to one side before crossing to return to the opposite side."

Two  years ago, I wrote a glowing report on the Royal Mail.  As an American, I loved the fact that you could order something from a company and get it the very next day usually. No matter where in the UK you lived. This was astonishing to me as I sometimes would send a letter in America across town and it would take three days to get to its destination. But in the last year or so, the Royal Mail has truly been doing downhill. And while I feel that most of the postal workers are really great (and polite), their bosses are definitely losing the ball.  At Christmas, my packages went missing for a month, and when I called the local office in mid-January to see what had happened... twenty minutes later, a very sheepish looking postal worker turned up with all my packages at once!  They had been held at the post office and no one had bothered to let me know or deliver them. (I would have gone to pick them up, really.)  Then, a package arrived about a month ago, and I found that the Royal Mail had begun to charge  a whopping 8 pounds (about $13) for any delivery of an item from abroad plus an extra "handling charge" of  4 pounds (about $7). So, if you purchase a small packet of buttons for a coat from America that cost $2.00 US, you will end up having to pay $20 to just get your package on top of whatever the postage was from America. Absolutely a total rip-off of the consumer.

Now, the idea that workers do not have the liberty to cross the road to deliver the mail on time is just a scandal. It's another silly regulation by the health and safety board that will do more harm than good. Isn't it time that people just get up and say, "No" to the Royal Mail?  No to the surcharges, no to the shoddy delivery system and no to the fact that it treats its workers like imbeciles? To add insult to injury, Royal Mail is also going to begin to get rid of the bicycles that the workers use to deliver the mail. So, not only is the route going to be longer, their mode of transport will also be compromised. We will have to be signing for packages at midnight!

Royal Mail? I'll bet the Royals get their mail on time and are allowed to cross the road when they please. We should let our postal workers do their job with as little interference from silly safety regs.