Muswell Hill service ‘disgraceful’ as Royal Mail crisis continues 

The Royal Mail sorting office in Ashford, Kent, during England's third national lockdown to curb the

Royal Mail has been experiencing issues with its delivery service across London, which it says is due to "high levels of sickness absence, Covid related self-isolation and resourcing issues" - Credit: PA

A Muswell Hill resident has described the postal situation as “appalling” and “bizarre”, as Royal Mail’s issues across the capital appear ongoing. 

Liz Thomson, a journalist and author, said that she has experienced delayed post as well as several instances of receiving returned post that she had never sent. 

These issues echo those reported across London. One Hornsey resident spoke to the Ham&High about the “piles of parcels” she had been told were to be found at her local sorting office, with people in Islington recording similar experiences. 

On January 24, the Royal Mail website said that while deliveries were operating as normal across most of the country, several London-based delivery offices, including Willesden and Hornsey, continued to be among those most impacted. 

Liz said she believes that the pandemic cannot be solely blamed for the problems the postal service is facing. 

She said she had heard from two different people that the Muswell Hill post office had changed its routes just before the festive period, despite warnings against doing so.

She added that when she called a central Royal Mail phone number, she was told that a note would be put on the system for the area, N10, with no other help offered. 

“That’s not good enough," she said. “People shouldn’t be expected to have to collect their mail, because not everyone can. I understand that Covid was going to cut a swathe through delivering mail and sorting office staff, as it has with everything else. But surely it shouldn’t be the case that you go more than a week without postal delivery.

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“There is an assumption that people can deal with all of this stuff online, but not everyone can, and not everyone can go round to collect their mail.”

On the degree to which Covid is affecting the service, she said: “I think this is much more than about Covid, and to what extent it's kind of branch by branch of sorting offices, or whether it’s to do with London or north London, I have no idea how they organise themselves. Have they all been told to reorganise their routes? I have just no idea.” 

The ramifications of the service not working properly, she says, are potentially huge for those reliant on the post for important information. 

She said: “Obviously this is disgraceful. It’s very damaging, because there will be hospital appointments in there. And as we all know, if you miss a hospital appointment now, they tend to say ‘well you’ve missed it, go to the bottom of the queue.’” 

Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, has written to Parliament and Ofcom separately on the issue in the last month, as well as raising it with senior personnel at Royal Mail.

On January 24, she also co-wrote a letter with David Lammy, shadow foreign secretary and MP for Tottenham, requesting an urgent meeting with Royal Mail CEO, Simon Thompson.

Catherine West MP

Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green - Credit: Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0)

On the ongoing crisis, she said: “I’ve been raising these issues for months and the excuses I’ve been getting from Royal Mail bosses aren’t good enough. I’ve now written to Ofcom to urge them to act. 

“This is the second year Hornsey and Wood Green has been one of the hardest hit areas and it’s causing serious problems for residents and businesses.   

“Royal Mail profits have soared during the pandemic and, instead of paying out huge bonuses to shareholders, those profits need to be put back into local services and recruiting enough temporary staff to cover all rounds.” 

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “The vast majority of mail is delivered safely and on time. We aim to deliver to all addresses we have mail for, six days a week.  

“In the local area, we are experiencing some delays to service due to high levels of sickness absence, Covid related self-isolation and resourcing issues. We apologise to any customers who may have experienced delays to their mail. 

“We have been working hard to get our levels of service back to normal as soon as possible. Anyone who has concerns over the delivery of their mail should contact the Royal Mail customer service team on 03457 740 740 or via the Royal Mail website www.royalmail.com.”