Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Caroline Ansell has visited the town’s delivery office to meet with managers and staff ahead of the busy Christmas postal period.

Caroline met with manager of the office Siv Djavanzad and area manager David Newman to see first-hand some of the seasonal pressures the postal services faces.

She also raised several concerns from residents about the town’s postal service and how important post such as NHS letters and special deliveries are prioritised.

She was told unfilled vacancies were not a key issue at this point but the role is clearly physically demanding and cover for staff off sick presented its own challenge.  Attracting young new recruits was another important challenge and the MP undertook to connect the new manager with the local Jobcentre Plus who are active in supporting employers’ needs as well as connecting local people with opportunities.     

She then chatted with staff, including one who had been with Royal Mail for 43 years.

“It was a total hive of activity as you would expect. It was great to chat to members of the team there. One particularly cheery soul was heard singing carols as he went,” said Caroline.

“I am very keen to ensure the Royal Mail has all the resources it needs and can perform to the level the public expects and this visit was important because I needed to hear first-hand what the challenges are, especially at Christmas.

“Royal Mail has told me that to safeguard the universal service obligation, the ‘one price goes anywhere’ principle of affordable postal services, it is seeking a change which would see a five-day a week delivery obligation rather than the present six-day legal commitment. I would only support such a move if it came with guarantees of a more reliable service Monday to Friday.

“This is because I have received complaints from residents that deliveries, particularly in Old Town and Willingdon, have been sporadic and slow with important documents delayed due to the lack of a reliable service in some cases.

“It is undoubtedly the case that the business model has changed. I literally saw that in the mountains of parcels.

She then added: “I would like to pay tribute to our posties. I know they are well thought of in their neighbourhoods and often go the extra mile.

“I would also like to thank new manager Siv for picking up the issues I have relayed so promptly.

“There are a number of important reforms to be made in the Eastbourne set-up which should reduce undue pressure on some team members. The computer isn’t always right when rounds are designed – I know that from my own experience of delivering campaign leaflets.  

“I am hoping to go out on a delivery round with one of our posties next year where I can put that experience to the test. You can’t beat walking in someone else’s shoes to understand some of their challenges.”