Thursday, 30 June 2011 00:00

Royal Mail Reps meet with Malmesbury Featured

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Royal Mail has recently confirmed that they plan to close the sorting office in Malmesbury High Street. Simon Killane, Wiltshire Councillor for Malmesbury stated "We are urgently investigating ways to make sure that local jobs and services are not damaged by the proposals to close this delivery office. The centre has provided local residents and businesses with an invaluable local sorting service."

Notes of meeting Royal Mail Management on 24 June 2011 about the  proposed closure of Malmesbury Sorting Office:

Malmesbury Representatives: Cllr Simon Killane, Town & Wiltshire Councillor (Chair), The Mayor, Cllr Steve Cox, Cllr Catherine Doody, Town Councillor, John Gundry of the Residents Association, Ruth Jeffrey of the Chamber of Commerce,  Alex Tweedie resident working with a local high volume book supplier.          

Royal Mail Representatives:  Steve Bell, Chris Seston and Richard  Hall                                                   

Press: Tina Robbins of the Malmesbury Standard                                         

The notes were Kindly taken by Phil Rice, our Deputy Town Clerk

1          Introduction

The meeting was informed that due to declining post volumes (by about 25%), poor business results and need to improve efficiency around the business, Malmesbury sorting office is to be closed in Spring 2012 whilst inadequate and potentially unsafe offices here also contributes to the closure. It is proposed that the staff and the work will move to a newish facility in Wotton Bassett. There will be no redundancies and management felt that there will be no discernible change in the level and standard of services although it was agreed that local incoming post will be delivered later but within legal guidelines.

Additionally there is a trend for smaller packets (ie Amazon dvd’s/cd’s) to disappear as downloading increases. Additionally Royal Mail finds it increasingly difficult to compete on price with the TNT’s, NTL’s of this world.

The meeting was then a question and answer session with some of the points summarised as under:

2          Questions & Answers

Q         What will happen regarding non delivery of parcels?

A          There are some 10-20 a day in the area and it is hoped that a facility in the town centre will be available for this. In Sherston the Post Office, about to move into new larger premises, has put in a 'bid'.  Post collection times in the area will remain.

Q         What will happen to the staff?

A          There is a compensatory programme for the extra hours which staff will need for their journeys and car sharing etc. will be encouraged.

Q         What about the increased carbon footprint?

A          Whilst more sorting office mileage will result, planning re (continued) bike use and trolleys has not yet got to this level of detail.

Q         If the town could find an alternative site, could this be an option?

A          Not really.

Q         Alex Tweedie mentioned that his business used to be in London with all the apparent inefficiencies of a large operation but his moving to Malmesbury had resulted in a much improved, accessible and friendly service and given the nature of his business, he was concerned that this quality will not remain.

A          Felt that there are no reasons why service levels should drop.

Q         How can we persuade you to change your mind?

A          The decision, which was not subject to any outside independent review, has been made for the reasons stated. 

Q         Can you find a way for sorted mail to be delivered to Malmesbury, negating the need for (some?) staff moving to Wootton Bassett and similarly is there an option for mail being delivered by say milkmen etc?

A          Perhaps there is something in this but the security and integrity of the mail is a key issue and needing to have local premises is a negative option.

Q         Tetbury is only five miles away and the sorting there is, we think, of a similar size to Malmesbury but is it possible that say a joint facility could emerge?

A          They will look into this.

3          Next Steps

3.1       Royal mail will look into the issues of Tetbury and Malmesbury working together and whether dropping sorted mail into Malmesbury is a possibility.

3.2       It would be appreciated if a written response could be provided by Royal Mail within 21 days to Phil Rice, Malmesbury Town Council, Cross Hayes, Malmesbury SN16 9BZ.

Ruth Jeffrey  from Malmesbury Chamber of Commerce (and Malmesbury.com administrator) also took brief notes as follows:

The closure itself is a done deal – the Sale board went up today and they will be moving to Wootton Bassett sorting office by spring 2012.

We were told to expect no discernible difference in the postal service, other than deliveries potentially being made at a different time of day and the loss of the current collection point for undelivered mail. There is no plan in place as yet for a collection point to remain in Malmesbury but it was put forward that perhaps the Post Office could be used for the current throughput of 10-20 parcels a day. Post Offices tend to be keen to get involved as it encourages more traffic through their doors but it was acknowledged that Malmesbury Post Office is very small and they’ve not yet been approached.

Various scenarios for retaining the full service in Malmesbury were discussed, such as having mail delivered in bulk from Wotton Bassett to cheaper premises in or on the outskirts of Malmesbury so staff could stay local and also to facilitate a local collection point. I suspect this is somewhat unlikely as it’s not been done in any other areas and would of course cost to implement and run. However, they’ve been asked to go away and look into the possibility.

Whatever happens, they say that 6pm will remain the latest collection time in Malmesbury so no change on that front.

There were of course other aspects and details discussed, such as increased carbon footprint, increased number of hours for employees due to additional commuting etc. but the main points of discussion are covered in my notes above.

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