Royal Mail suspend deliveries to remote Scottish community

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Royal Mail has said it will no longer be making deliveries to four homes, with a reported population of 15, because the private access road isn’t in good shape and there is no mobile phone acccess in the area.

The 37 mile, one hour, round trip to the remote community of Altnabreac, Caithness has been judged to be too distant and unsafe for posties. The residents can opt to have post delivered to friends or relatives closer to Halkirk. Postal regulator Ofcom has said that the Royal Mail is not required to make a journey of more than 15 minutes on a private road.

A previous decision to suspend deliveries in 2014 was rescinded in 2014 after the residents protested but Royal Mail say that the roads in the area have recently deteriorated and it’s no longer safe.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “Royal Mail has suspended deliveries to four addresses at KW12 at Halkirk and we are sorry for the inconvenience this causes customers. This step has been taken after a detailed assessment, as we believe that there is a risk of safety to our postmen and women who are delivering on private tracks off the public highway.”

“Our people are spending an hour round trip to deliver the mail. There is also no mobile phone signal to call for help if there is an issue and the condition of the track is poor. This step has been taken after a detailed assessment, as we believe that there is a risk of safety to our postmen and women who are delivering on private tracks off the public highway.”

Clearly it doesn’t pay to be hysterical here but there is an important principle at stake too: the universal service. That everyone, over the UK can get postal deliveries for the same price. It doesn’t matter if you’re sending a letter two streets in London or a parcel to the wilds of the Shetlands, it will cost the same. And it’s always a little disquieting when that marvellous principle is dented.

7 Responses

  1. I am with Royal Mail on this one, and no I dont work for them.
    If you live that far down a private road you clearly want some isolation.
    All they need to do is club together and get a big lockable steel box at the civilisation end of the road. Sorted

  2. There is a list of USO Exceptions as long as your arm:
    https://www.royalmailgroup.com/sites/default/files/USO%20Delivery%20Exceptions%20-%20over%2012%20months%20-%20Publish%20June%202017.pdf
    Each exception seems to be reviewed annually.
    I can see why RM might want to be relieved of the obligation in this case but the only thing that can have changed on the list of ‘difficulties’ and issues quoted is the state of the road.
    Moral: keep your private access road maintained.

  3. I would advise the residents to sell the drive to their local authority for 1 pence and draw up a covenant which then means royal mail would have to deliver as it is a public highway.

  4. personally i think it’s an outrage. i installed a moat and crocodile pit around my house PURELY to annoy the postie, and the good chap took it on the chin as one would expect of decent Royal Mail postmen.
    to refuse to deliver a man’s (or ladies) copy of ‘better moustache grooming guide’ and his Radio Times, for the price of a stamp, simply because he lives in a cave several hours away from civilization, is unacceptable.
    if the road is unsafe RM should charter a helicopter. somebody paid for that stamp dagnamit!

    seriously though, do the people in these houses expect the pizzaboy to deliver with no extra costs? of course not. but they do expect RM to hike up mountains or along dangerous paths & with no means to call backup if required, in order to make a massive loss finanically? a stamp costs basically bloody nothing, it only works because of population density and the distance between each delivery, I dont think it’s fair for the entire country to subsidise these 4 that live in the middle of nowhere.
    – I’m not saying cut off all of the Highlands, but there are obviously limits to what’s reasonable.
    – perhaps they can nominate one neighbour each day to drive down the bottom of the road and meet the postman, and that neighbour can receive the 56p stamp money for their labours. they’ll be fighting over the opportunity!

  5. I am on RM side on this quite simple safety of RM Staff is paramount answer simple get the road fixed or sell it to the council as previously stated for a penny .
    In the meantime make alternative arrangements for mail to be collected all previously mentioned

  6. Its nothing to do with access its all down to cost,Royal Mail are obligated to universal delivery i.e. To every household, I can understand if a delivery is suspended because of the presence of says dangerous dog, but once they get away with not delivering for this reason you can expect more areas to follow

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