Island mail’s 250-mile trip
Even if it’s just going to an address right beside the post office
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.’