A recent issue of the Bognor Regis Observer featured residents of Elmer outside the Bognor Post Office in protest about the loss of their local postie.
While I totally understand the feelings expressed, I would like to make some observations.
About ten years ago, when the Post Office was considering abandoning the second delivery, some of us from Middleton-on-Sea appeared on the BBC’s Watchdog programme making the point fairly forcefully that Middleton already had only one delivery a day which often appeared as late as 3pm – and that for a village not a million miles from civilisation.
It was leading to all sorts of problems for businesses run from the village – with mail between Elmer and Middleton, for example, taking days for a half-mile trip – and at that time, email was difficult for many and broadband was unheard of here.
Eventually delivery times markedly improved, but more recently things had slipped and
1pm became the norm for the morning’s mail.
We also saw posties cycling precariously with heavy loads.
Since the recent PO changes highlighted by the Elmer residents, true, we don’t see the familiar faces, but mail is back to arriving between 8am and 9am with fewer wobbly cyclists around.
So for me, the postal service is now once again very adequately fulfilling its primary function – to get my mail safely to the right house in a reasonably speedy fashion. Well done, Post Office!
That is not to dispute the fact local posties were a useful contact, knowing their delivery areas well, and aware of lonely and vulnerable residents.
But can I suggest we can all care for our neighbours? It shouldn’t be down to the postman alone.
Neighbourhood Watch, which has perhaps concentrated in the past too much on crime prevention rather than on neighbourliness, has recently undergone some major changes.
Rebranded as NeighbOURhood WATCH, it is focusing more on small localities, and in a campaign week from June 18-26, the public will be encouraged to bring communities together and make their streets friendlier, as well as safer places to live.
A new website is up and running (www.ourwatch.org.uk) where interested readers can find out more about what promises to be an important part of the so-called Big Society, an idea that begins to make more sense when we see we can all take over the postie role that Elmer residents were so sorry to lose.