Post box at the old Post Office

We have been asked if the old postbox can be moved to the Co-op now that the post office itself has been relocated. We have asked the Co-op about this and have received the following reply:

With regards to the Post Box, there are no plans to move it at the moment. This is due to a couple of reasons, 1) the existing Post Box is not too far from the new location 2) Post Boxes are under the remit of Royal Mail and since the separation in 2012 it is a lot hard to move the boxes, and we are always quoted that it has a £10k cost attached to it. 

However requests for this have sometimes been successful and the Co-op is working hard to see if this can be done.

More on the proposed Post Office move

As you know, we covered this story some months back, and the Post Office has now advertised its consultation, see below.

Dear Customer

Headington Post Office®
144 London Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 9EB

Proposed move to new premises & branch modernisation

I’m writing to let you know that we are proposing, with the Postmaster’s agreement to move the above Post Office branch to a new location – Midcounties Co-operative, 152 London Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 9ED. I’m pleased to tell you that, if the move goes ahead, subject to consultation it will change to one of our new main style branches.

This change is part of a major programme of modernisation taking place across the Post Office network, the largest in the history of Post Office Ltd. The Programme is underpinned by Government investment and will see up to 8,000 branches modernised and additional investment in over 3,000 community and outreach branches.

What will this mean for customers?

  •   A modern open plan branch in newly refurbished premises
  •   Longer opening hours
  •   The same products and services you’re used to
  •   Selected Post Office services will also be available at the retail counter during shop opening hours

Consulting on the proposed new location

We’re now starting a 6 week local public consultation and would like you to tell us what you think about the suitability of the proposed new location. Before we finalise our plans, we would really like to hear your views on the proposed location, particularly on the following areas:

  •   How suitable you think the new location and premises are and how easy it is to get there
  •   Are the new premises easy for you to get into and is there easy access inside?
  •   Do you have any concerns about the new location?
  •   If so, do you have any suggestions that could help us make it better for you
  •   Any local community issues which you think could be affected by the proposed move
  •   Anything you particularly like about the proposed change.You can share your views on the proposed move through our easy and convenient new online questionnaire. When entering the site you will be asked to enter the code for this branch: 126137

    Dates for local public consultation:

    Local Public Consultation starts

    12 May 2015

    Local Public Consultation ends

    23 June 2015

    Proposed month of change

    August/September 2015

    I’ve included information about the Code of Practice over the page and copies of the Code will also be available in branch.

    Thank you for considering our proposal. At the end of the consultation we’ll put a poster in branch to let you know our final plans.

    Yours sincerely

    Will Russell
    Regional Network Manager

Will Headington Post Office move to the Co-op?

The Mid-Counties Co-op has confirmed to us that it has expressed strong interest in hosting Headington Post Office within its current supermarket premises in London Road.

Residents may remember that the Cowley Centre post office relocated from Barns Road to the Co-op in Templars Square and is very well used.

If the Co-op is to go ahead, a public consultation will be held. This is encouraging news for those residents who had heard rumours that Headington’s Post Office would close. No timescales are confirmed at present.

Good news! Postbox to remain in Highfield!

You asked for our help to  get the All Saints Road postbox reinstated.

We’re delighted to announce that we have spoken to the Royal Mail on your behalf and they have promised a brand new pillarbox for Highfield!

Its new location is likely to be on the corner of  Barrington Close.

There will be a two to three month delay before the new pillarbox comes into operation as the Royal Mail needs to liaise with the utility companies and  County Highways

Sadly the old George VI box cannot be reused but we are looking for suggestions on where it should be kept in a public place that Headington residents can access.  Do you have any ideas where it should be kept? So far people have suggested the Library (as a suggestions box) and the Post Office on display. If you have any comments or ideas please let us know!

Royal Mail deliveries in Headington

 David and I have received a number of enquiries about lack of postal deliveries, particularly in Old Headington, and the manager of the sorting and distribution depot has sent me this response:

The snow has presented a monumental challenge for us but the majority of
staff have gone over and above to complete as much of there deliveries as
possible. Now that the “big thaw” is under way we will be working to clear
the backlog of mail. All deliveries are going out today and I hope to be
back on track by Weds-Thursday next week. With regards to the deliveries
during the snow we had to rely on staff judgement with regards to what
areas we felt were safe to deliver and which were not.

If you believe you have still not received your letter deliveries by Wednesday 20 January please let us know and we will investigate further

What do you think of the London Rd plans?

It was good to see so many people at the exhibition on Saturday morning! If you haven’t yet seen the County Council’s plans for upgrading the London Road, please click on this link

If you haven’t yet submitted comments/feedback on the new scheme, please do so online here

Please note: you will need to click on Next to complete the feedback form.  David and I are very keen that everyone fills this in.  Among the concerns that were brought to my attention on Saturday were the lack of attention given to cyclists, the narrowing of Old High Street at its junction with London Road in respect of the advent of Waitrose, safety concerns about the London Road/Windmill Road junction, and the removal of the subway at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds.  People were also concerned about the lack of planting in London Road

Response from Royal Mail about parcel delivery complaints

 I passed on various comments from local residents to the Delivery Centre manager at Ledgers lane, here is his response in full

I hope you are well sorry that it has taken so long to reply but things
have been extremely hectic here due to an increase in short term SL that we
were experiencing. This has led to managers being out on delivery until
quite late in the evening again to try and ensure that we met with delivery
specification. However I have got some good news in that our recent
recruitment campaigns have paid off and we now have 7 new members of staff
in post who should be fully trained up within the next 2 -3 weeks, this
will obviously reduce the amount of late deliveries that some of our
customers have been experiencing.

With regards to your enquiries please see below:

Packets for delivery to the majority of Headington deliveries should be
back in the office within 24 hours of the card being left. We have had some
issues where items have taken longer than this due to the deliveries being
completed on OT in the afternoon and as such the collections that bring the
mail back to the unit from the post office have already happened before the
items have been brought back to the pouching off point. However this should
be resolved in part by the new entrants and the reduction in need of
utilising OT for delivery coverage. We also still have a couple of people
who have been putting 48 hours on the card for safety sake, by this i mean
that they don’t want their customers to come to the office and the item not
being here.

Another of the issues raised was that some residents were told that they
could collect their parcels within 5 hours of the card left. The time left
for collection will depend on the method of delivery and where the delivery
is. For example most of the East Oxford deliveries come back to the office
once they have completed and subsequently bring the items straight back.
Further more if the items were large packets and delivered by a van then
these to come back to the unit and thus a shorter collection time will be
offered.With regards to the Headington deliveries these do tend to finish
at their last delivery point and this leads to the packets being returned
to the post office and sent back to us via the normal collection route
which is why the delay occurs.

I would be extremely surprised if the staff chose to just leave a card for
an item without trying. The simple reason for this is that it takes longer
to write out a card than it does to deliver the items in the majority of
occasions. It is possible that the wrong time has been placed on the card
or that the customer was in a part of the house where they could not hear
the door. I would state however that the guys cannot spend very long
waiting at each door as it would be impossible for them to finish. During
the Christmas period our parcel traffic increased dramatically and this led
to an increase in work load for the staff and would also reduce the amount
of time that they could spend at each door. That said i still feel that the
majority of staff would have left a reasonable amount of time for the
customer to answer.

Parking is an ongoing issue with the site and i am also aware or the issues
that you other customer had in which they were fined for parking on the
road outside of the unit. With regards to parking on the road outside i
believe that this allowed as it is a public highway and the only yellow
lines are to the side of the building. I have heard that the company that
are responsible for parking control of the actual units are known to be a
bit to enthusiastic on occasion. As i have already stated it is my
understanding that people are allowed to park on the road.

With regards to the parking bays they are often full first thing in the
morning. A large percentage of our staff utilise their cars on delivery and
they park there vehicles in this area so they can load them with mail. I
will have a look to see if we can free up set of bays for customer parking
only which should relieve this problem. I will also raise this with the CWU
representative this morning in our strategic liaison meeting.

With regards to the black Multipla this is one of my managers cars – he has
to park on site as we often need to go out and visit staff etc at short
notice. Further more due to a H&S order we have limited space to park at
the rear of the building.

I think that if we can free up the first set of bays for our customers that
this should reduce this problem significantly. I would also like to add
however that we have had occasions where people have been parking in our
bays that are nothing to do with us and this also unfortunately reduces the
amount of space for our customers.

Royal Mail: delivery times

Here is a response from the Royal Mail Delivery Centre Manager about the enquiry I picked up on the Headington and Marston Forum about 48 hour delivery delays:

I am sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to you on this. It has
been extremely hectic at this end. I have had discussion with a couple of
my delivery officers and I think that they were being over cautious when
they put 48 hours on the card. We have had a few occasions when 24 hours
has been put on the card and for whatever reason the item has not been
ready for collection. I think on this occasion the postman concerned was
just trying to avoid the customer a wasted journey to the delivery office.
I will be telling the staff in Headington to ensure that they only place 24
hours onto the docket cards from here on in. I will also be reviewing the
process that we follow for the collection of “docket left” items in the
Headington section to ensure that we do not have any more instances of
packets taking longer than 24 hours to be ready for collection.

During the Christmas period we are going to be operating revised hours for
our callers office and I was hoping that you could also put this on the

Mon – Fri 06:30 – 19:30 (8/12 – 23/12)

Saturdays 06:30 – 17:30 (13/12 and 20/12)

Christmas Eve 06:30 – 14:00

The cards that we received from the printers have incorrect dates on them
and only show the additional hours from next week. However we will still be
open as advertised above.

We are also offering the Local Collect service for free over the festive
period. Local Collect is the facility to have items (not special Delivery
items or Royal Mail tracked items) delivered to a local post-office so that
customers can pick the items up from there.

Royal Mail doublespeak?

The 2008 Key Customer Update from Royal Mail has provoked some interest from political commentators, including Mark Pack. One passage states

Within the next 5 years, by the end of 2010, we want to have identified all significant sources of water leaks within site boundaries and taken steps to mitigate them.


Within the next ten years, by the end of 2015 we want to recycle all water that we use outside of normal personal use.

This seems to defy the laws of mathematics
Another phrase that I can’t quite get my head around is:

We have decided to re-phase the deployment of Walk Sequencing so as to better align all our programme activities. This will ensure the right technical, operational and deployment approaches are in place, to enable a smooth and effective migration, where the changes are embedded and sustained.

Perhaps we should encourage the wordsmiths to get out on the streets in Headington and deliver some parcels before 9.00 am?!

Parcel delivery and collection

Residents have asked David and me to pursue some issues about the collection and delivery of parcels and about the service provision at Ledgers’ Close in Littlemore.  I met two Royal Mail managers this morning and this I what I learned.

The delivery centre in Ledgers’ Close deals with parcels/packets with OX3 and OX4 postcodes. Anything for East Oxford without a postcode will go by default to the delivery centre for OX1 and OX2 in the City Centre. 

Royal Mail agree that there have been resourcing issues and there are still 13 vacancies.

Processing the packets/parcels for delivery takes staff up until 09.30 each morning, so deliveries take place from 09.45-14.00. This of course means that those in full-time employment are unlikely to be in to accept deliveries.

Requests for re-instatement of undelivered parcel collection point in Headington

There are no plans to do this at present.  There are however a range of options open to people who aren’t in when the postal worker calls, these include:

  • request an alternative delivery day (but this will again be from 09.45-14.00)
  • request redelivery c/o a neighbour
  • request redelivery at a safe place (e.g. shed, garage)
  • request redelivery to your place of work
  • ask to collect it from Headington PO for 50p

The 50p is to cover the cost of re-routing the parcel from Royal Mail to Post Office Counters Ltd or their franchisee. Delivery cannot be made to local newsagents as Royal Mail has to discharge its responsibility for the safety of parcels.

Regarding the dificulty in parking in Ledgers’ Close, I am assured that Royal Mail employees are required to park their cars elsewhere (at the bowling club round the corner).  They cannot see an easy way to resolve the parking issues nearby

Inefficiency of online redelivery service

Emails are now cleared throughout the morning.  If an email is received in the afternoon, it will be processed next morning.  So if you email on Monday, the earliest you can be sure of getting the parcel redelivered will be Wednesday

Delay in answering the phones at the Delivery Centre

There are 4 people working in the Callers’ Office in the mornings and 2 in the afternoons. If staffing levels are down, they call people in to cover.  There is no “The phone must be answered inside three rings” type procedure.  They are installing an answerphone so that callers won’t have to hang on the line, this will happen very soon

Under-resourcing of the Delivery Centre

They have 13 vacancies currently.  They are filling in with staff opting to do voluntary overtime, and with agency temps on a casual contract.  They are desperate to recruit and are keen for parents of school age children to consider applying for delivery jobs, they offer 09.00-15.00 contracts but would welcome offers of working from 09.30-14.30 if more appropriate

Suggestions to take forward

They welcomed the suggestions made by Headington residents to improve services.  They will investigate:

  1. Improvements to missed Saturday delivery service: at present items undelivered on Saturdays are stored at Headington PO over the weekend and transferred to the Delivery Centre on Mondays for re-processing
  2. Direction to postal staff that initials as well as surnames should be put on undelivered cards so that family members know who the parcel is for!

David and I are contacting the Area Manager for Post Office Counters Ltd to explore other issues and are continuing this liaison work with Royal Mail