A cold wind is blowing through Bloxwich, and its not just the herald of winter, it’s the wind of change, the sort of stiff breeze up the Khyber which often blows no-one any good. That change is imminent in our once-great postal service, which back in the Victorian era when it was invented could offer as many as three local deliveries a day, and even same day, or evening, for the price of a penny, and without modern technology and transport.
Today, having been given a rather undeserved battering over the past couple of decades by successive governments and management of questionable quality, our Royal Mail is not what it was. A first class stamp at 46p is no guarantee of even next day delivery, deliveries can indeed turn up pretty much any time of day, collections have been cut back and recent speculation on possible increases to up to £3 for a first class letter is alarming to say the least.
It’s only to be expected that some change will be needed to allow for the fact that a lot of ‘snail’ mail has been replaced by email for routine chit-chat and general communication, of course. But this can be taken too far, to the point where ideology and profit weigh more in the balance than the service ethic that used to hold sway in such enterprises.
Now, we are receiving letters from Royal Mail’s Delivery Sector Manager for the Walsall area, stating that change is coming. Where is he? Plymouth, of all places, according to the letter! Of course, the word ‘modernise’ is coming into play, and immediately we can see where this is going. Cost-cutting and ‘efficiency’ savings, no doubt.
What is going to happen? Deliveries will be spread out over a longer period during the day, so it seems likely that fewer of us will get our post first thing, nor at a time convenient to us. Routes will be longer, and when you get your post will depend on where you are on the route. When mail volumes vary, delivery arrangements and times will be adjusted accordingly, so you won’t be able to predict when your post will arrive.
What about our friendly posties? Well, they will be asked to carry more and heavier mail, though there will apparently be investment “in new equipment” to “reduce the risk of injury to our postmen and women.” Powered trolleys may shortly be seen trundling around our estates, then, and vans will be shared. New machinery will also replace jobs in sorting offices. Chances are that your usual postie will disappear onto another route or be shuffled around to take up the slack as required.
How will all this work out? Well clearly it remains to be seen. Obviously changes need to be made in modern circumstances. But if they are used as excuses to cut and cut again for profit or to make ready for privatisation, we will all lose out. Queen Victoria would certainly not be amused…
You can find out more on the Royal Mail website: http://bit.ly/lJ7Vmk