The British towns made to wait the longest for the post

The Surrey town of Guildford is the worst town in England for first-class deliveries by Royal Mail, data shows, with residents scrambling to get vital deliveries in time for Christmas.

Only 62.5pc of first class post was delivered the next working day to Guildford postcodes in the three months to September this year.

Strikes by postal workers have exacerbated the issue in Guildford, where residents say they have not had any post delivered in a fortnight.

The town narrowly beat Dartford, Kent, as the worst-performing English town, with Ilford, east London, and Oxford also performing at less than 65pc.

Under regulator rules, Royal Mail must deliver 93pc of first class mail within one working day of collection. Ofcom has the power to impose a penalty of 10pc of Royal Mail’s postal service business turnover.

Chris Shepherd, 72, waited ten days for a 24-hour tracked parcel to arrive at his home in Farnham, Surrey. When he visited his local delivery office on a non-strike day, he was told that although the parcel was at the depot he could not collect it, as it was on a van to be delivered.

Mr Shepherd still waited four more days for the parcel, a WiFi router, to arrive at his doorstep.

He said: “I’m changing my supplier and I’m due another new router from the new supplier at the end of this month for the switch over of the telephone line, on 4 January.

“I’m just wondering what’s going to happen, I suspect we’ll not be without any internet service again for a while because the router won’t make it before the line switch.”

He added: “In a way I can quite support them because the postal service treats these postmen absolutely appallingly… but it’s not helping the world go round.”

Ben Darnton, 55, of Ben’s Collectors Records in the center of Guildford, said that several items bought as Christmas gifts had not been delivered and it was already too late for some family members’ presents.

He said: “We went to my parents in Oxford yesterday from Guilford and they are a couple of presents short because they had not arrived for them, so we’ll see them in January and give it to them then.”

Mr Darnton said that he had also noticed an increased footfall in his shop from postal workers because of recent strikes.

He said: “I’ve noticed an awful lot more postmen coming in here as customers because they’ve had all these days off recently.

“I know them, they’re customers anyway, but I usually just see them on a Sunday or on a Wednesday but I’m seeing them all days of the week.”

The Royal Mail disruption has also caused issues for the borough council as a whole, as local planning permission is sought and administered by paper forms and letters.

David Bilbé, councillor for the Normandy ward in Guilford, said: “People are putting in planning applications as they do all year round and particularly at this time of year people start thinking about that extension that they’d like to start in the spring or moving house in the spring or summer period.”

He added: “Guildford Borough Council is the 326th performing worst council for planning out of 328 in the country. They’ve got over 1000 application backlogs. So do you really think a postal strike and lack of communication is going to help that? No, it’s not at all.

“Whether we like it or not, we still live in a paper-dependent society where letters and parcels and packages, information and forms do need to be sent to people. So it’s slowing down an already appallingly bad situation.”

Royal Mail was contacted for comment.


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