Is­land mail’s 250-mile trip

Even if it’s just go­ing to an ad­dress right be­side the post of­fice

The Oban Times - - Front Page - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

IS­LAN­DERS say changes to the way mail is sorted on Mull and other Ar­gyll is­lands means all postal items are sent on a 250-mile round trip be­fore be­ing de­liv­ered by Royal Mail.

While the or­gan­i­sa­tion says this is noth­ing new and has been hap­pen­ing for years, is­lan­ders say that in the last few weeks rules have been ‘tight­ened up’.

A card that would have been kept in a post of­fice on Mull and de­liv­ered lo­cally with the next post, now makes its way by van, ferry, van, train and van again to be sorted in a dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre in Glas­gow. It then comes back via van to train, to van, into the Oban of­fice, then van, to ferry and van again.

In some cases, in­clud­ing Coll, Colon­say and Tiree, this also in­cludes post and parcels mak­ing a flight both off and on to the is­lands. Steve Wil­lis of Mull com­mu­nity coun­cil said: ‘Changes have taken place, start­ing last week, to the way mail is pro­cessed on Mull and other is­lands.

‘For gen­er­a­tions now, mail des­tined for ad­dresses on Mull has been pro­cessed on Mull, ie stamped and franked and de­liv­ered with no fur­ther ado.

‘This was sim­ply ex­pe­dited by writ­ing is­land or lo­cal on the en­ve­lope.

‘We are now in­formed that all mail is to be sent to Glas­gow for pro­cess­ing. So even though mail on all our is­lands has his­tor­i­cally trav­elled but a few miles to their des­ti­na­tion, it is now, in the case of Mull, to have a fur­ther 250 mail miles added to its jour­ney.

‘ We are told this is to en­able Royal Mail to mon­i­tor the vol­ume of on-is­land mail.

‘ We, how­ever, see it as a ret­ro­grade, point­less step with un­doubt­edly some un­der­ly­ing sin­is­ter sub­plot. In any case it is cer­tainly to the detri­ment of the is­lands’ and Ar­gyll’s way of life. We won­der which of­fi­cial pen-pusher could have dreamt up such a bizarre idea, par­tic­u­larly when we are all be­ing made aware of our car­bon foot­print. Here is a scheme which beg­gars belief in this re­gard.’

Voices from through­out Ar­gyll have added their con­cern over the ex­tra de­lay and cen­tral­i­sa­tion of mail de­liv­ery via a dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre in Glas­gow.

Com­mu­nity coun­cils on all the is­lands have been alerted to the prob­lem and Ar­gyll and Bute MP Bren­dan O’Hara has been asked to raise the mat­ter in par­lia­ment.

A Royal Mail spokes­woman said: ‘There has been no change to how we sort or process mail from Oban, Mull or any of the sur­round­ing is­lands.

‘Mail col­lected from post boxes and Post Of­fice branches on Mull is sent to Oban be­fore be­ing pro­cessed at the Glas­gow Mail Cen­tre, where it is then sent for on­ward de­liv­ery to its des­ti­na­tion.

‘Pro­cess­ing mail at a ded­i­cated mail cen­tre al­lows us to de­liver a high qual­ity of ser­vice to Mull, Oban and the rest of the UK.

‘The process for sort­ing and pro­cess­ing mail from Oban, Mull and the sur­round­ing is­lands has been in place for a num­ber of years and is the same process for ev­ery part of Scot­land and the UK.’

Ar­gyll MSP Michael Rus­sell has asked Royal Mail to think again. He said: ‘Up un­til now lo­cal mail for the is­land it­self was lo­cally sorted but now ev­ery­thing has to go to Glas­gow, by ferry and even some­times by air. It is then sorted and sent back. This is not only en­vi­ron­men­tally daft, it will also lead to sig­nif­i­cant de­lays es­pe­cially in win­ter when ser­vices can be dis­rupted by weather.’

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