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Villagers campaign over changes to undelivered mail collection
MORE than 400 people in South Wonston have signed a petition demanding a return to the days of undelivered mail being left at the village post office.
Royal Mail has started taking parcels and signed-for items back to the main sorting office in Winchester instead of leaving them at South Wonston Stores and Post Office for locals to collect.
Post office chiefs said this brings the service in line with other areas and helps keep track of items.
But villagers now face a 12-mile round trip to Winnall sorting office to collect undelivered parcels instead of a short stroll to their local post office in Downs Road.
Ron Chamberlain, sub-postmaster at South Wonston, said the changes would cause “considerable inconvenience” to locals and cost them “time and expense.”
Mr Chamberlain said it also meant loss of income for the post office, reduced footfall in the shop – and removal “of a public service from the hub of the village.”
And he blasted Royal Mail bosses for “providing the service at the lowest common denominator as opposed to the best for everyone.”
Some 472 residents signed the petition requesting: “Royal Mail re-instate the service whereby undelivered mail is left at our local post office for collection.”
Some other village post offices have also been hit by the shake-up.
Michelle Qassim, sub-postmaster at King’s Somborne, said locals now faced a 20-mile round trip to pick up undelivered parcels from Winnall sorting office.
She said: “It has had a significant impact on the local community, especially the elderly who don’t have cars. There is only one bus every two hours to Winchester bus station and then they have to get a connecting bus to Winnall.
“For some people who have to go by bus, collecting a parcel could take an entire day and considerable expense.
“Nobody is happy about it and the postmen are getting a lot of flack for it as well.”
The changes come as Royal Mail has announced plans to leave undelivered mail with neighbours – something it was previously banned from doing.
Winchester and Chandler’s Ford MP, Steve Brine, called for “a little innovative thinking or a healthy dose of common sense.”
The Tory MP said: “There should be flexibility in the system for a much more locally-driven solution and if that means using the new ‘leave it with a neighbour’ system as the first call with the village post office as the fall-back, so be it.
“Making my constituents trek all the way into an already congested Winnall is neither helpful nor progress.”
A Royal Mail spokesman said people can request to have mail re-delivered to their home address free of charge or collect the item from their nearest post office for £1.50.
He said: “We have made changes to the unofficial practice of leaving items of mail in a local South Wonston post office to be collected by customers who were out at the time of delivery.
“This is to ensure that we provide the same service to all our customers and to ensure the increasing amount of tracked items provide the same audit trail the sender has opted for.”