My letter to the Chief Executive of Ofcom asking for an investigation into Royal Mail service over the 2021/2 winter period. 09/05/2022
Dame Melanie Dawes
Chief Executive, Ofcom
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA
28 April 2022
Our Ref: DL52875
Dear Dame Melanie,
I am writing to raise my serious concern about Royal Mail service in my constituency of Tottenham, and about their performance in the UK more generally.
From November 2021 to January of 2022 I received hundreds of complaints from my constituents about the service they were receiving in the N4 and N8 postcodes. Many had received little or no mail for weeks, causing serious problems for small businesses and leading many to miss important medical appointments. Others lost bank cards, Covid test results and delivered prescriptions. Both letters and packages were affected.
I wrote to Royal Mail repeatedly, met with senior Royal Mail staff and organised a meeting between residents of the Harringay Ladder and Royal Mail staff. Royal Mail were informed of every complaint I received.
Despite raising my concerns on multiple occasions, making clear that the issues were worse than Royal Mail understood them to be, I received only unsatisfactory explanations relating to staff sickness. Residents have been incredibly supportive of their local posties but were exasperated by the failure to plan for staff sickness and the Christmas rush. My meetings with Royal Mail management have continually given me little confidence that they have properly engaged with the issues impacting the N8 and N4 areas, despite this having been the second winter during which service was below substandard.
Research from Citizen’s Advice confirms that residents and businesses in Haringey were not alone. 16.5 million people were impacted by letter delays in January 2021 and nearly 15 million over the 2021/2 Christmas period.
I understand that the “regulatory emergency period” under the Postal Services Act 2011 ended on the 31st August 2021 and that normal regulatory arrangements therefore applied for the duration of the 2021/2 winter. Given the experience of my constituents, and many across the country, I must urge Ofcom to commit to a detailed and thorough investigation of the Royal Mail’s service over this period.
So that my constituents can be assured that Royal Mail properly understands the service they are receiving, I would like Ofcom to require Royal Mail to public it’s performance data at a far more granular level, e.g. for the N4 or N8 postcodes.
Finally, I must ask Ofcom to review the affordability and financial priorities of the Royal Mail. 1st class stamps have reached a record 95p, while the Royal Mail has also seen enormous profits – £315 million in the 6 months before September 2021.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Rt Hon. David Lammy MP
Member of Parliament for Tottenham
Catherine West, MP for Hornsey & Wood Green, and I have written to the CEO of Royal Mail, Simon Thompson, to ask for a joint meeting. You can see a copy of our letter below.
I understand that many constituents living in the N4 and N8 postcodes have received incredibly poor service from Royal Mail, from at least the beginning of December 2021. Constituents have reported highly irregular service, with some not receiving any post for weeks. Many have still not received items posts over one month ago.
My casework team and I have been working hard to try to get Royal Mail to resolve this problem. I wrote to Royal Mail multiple times through November and December, met with them on December 13th and December 22nd and convened a meeting between Harringay Ladder residents and Royal Mail on December the 16th.
Many residents reported improved service, with some receiving tens of items in one load just before Christmas. I understand that the Service Delivery Lead for North London visited the sorting office and found that post had not always been sent out in the order it came into the sorting office. It was hoped that this error, along with especially high staff sickness rates, explained the issue and that the problem could quickly be resolved.
However, since Christmas, I have heard from more constituents in the same area, all reporting that the issues have persisted. I have written to Royal Mail again this week to ensure that they are aware of the issues (see their response below). I understand that residents in the N4 and N8 areas of the Hornsey & Wood Green constituency are also experiencing similar problems.
I understand that, as of the beginning of 2022, a new Senior Manager has been brought in to manage the local sorting office. I sincerely hope that they will be able to get on top of the issues, though will remain sceptical until constituents see results.
Rest assured that Catherine West MP and I will continue to press Royal Mail until we are confident that the issues in N4 and N8 have been resolved.
In the meantime, please continue to let me know your experiences by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org – and please continue to raise official complaints with Royal Mail.
Royal Mail response 14/01/2022