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Postal service causing missed appointments in Torridge

Sunday, 11 February 2024 07:53

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

Royal Mail Post Box (Image: The blowup on Unsplash)

Residents who don't use modern technology "disadvantaged

Infrequent mail deliveries in Torridge are leading to people missing GP and hospital appointments, it has been claimed.

Torridge councillors have asked for a meeting with Royal Mail officials to address inconsistencies in the postal service after a barrage of complaints from Bideford residents.

Torridge District councillor Annie Brenton (Lab, Bideford West) said if you were lucky you would see a postman or woman once a week in parts of the town.

She said the prime minister’s vow that Royal Mail deliveries would continue six days a week despite problems in the postal service is “laughable”.

“I have had complaints from residents in places like Clovelly Road and Torridge Hill, it’s ridiculous what’s going on,” she said.

“I know of several people who have had hospital appointments come through but they received them too late and ended up with a ‘did not attend’ black mark against them.

“This is a really serious problem in Bideford which I would not expect as it is an urban area.

“We need to get Royal Mail here to ask them what the problem is, why it’s happening and what they can do about it for our residents.”

Other councillors said deliveries in some rural areas were also infrequent. Cllr James Craigie (Ind, Bideford East) said the service seemed to be two-weekly in East the Water and mail is going missing.

Cllr Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin (Lib Dem, Shebbear and Langtree) suggested that Post Office Counters also be invited to speak to councillors as there has been lots of complaints about the mobile post office which was becoming “increasingly unreliable”.

Cllr Philip Pennington (Ind, Monkleigh and Putford) said he was worried that everything was going digital in the health service with appointments by email and text and patients who could not use modern communications were having to rely on a less than adequate postal service.

“There is a whole group of people here who cannot access a doctor or other medical services let alone a post office,” he said.

“We need to be holding the health service to account over this too.”

Cllr Stephen Harding (Con, Hartland) said Royal Mail is struggling as a business and is trying to get its house in order. He said it had been well documented that the company is looking at how many days it could deliver as it remodelled its business.

The government does not support scrapping Saturday deliveries.

The regulator Ofcom is looking at options for reforming the service, which Royal Mail says is needed, before putting them out for national discussion.

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