Royal Mail under fire in Leyland

Royal Mail has come under fire from customers in South Ribble angry at the appalling delays in delivering letters and parcels.

The Guardian has been swamped with complaints from readers in Leyland angry that they're still waiting for Christmas cards despite it being mid-January.

They're blaming Leyland Sorting Office for the problems - although Roya Mail has rejected suggestions there's a mountain of undelivered parcels.

The explanation has cut no ice with our readers.

Last week we revealed how Andrew Mears, from Bamber Bridge, received a birthday card from his aunt in Walton-le-Dale a full 27 days after she posted it.

John McDonald, aged 69, from Queensway, says he knows exactly how Mr Mears feels as he missed a Christmas play at the school he used to work at, because the invite didn't arrive in time.

He said: "It would have been nice to see the children proudly playing out their roles, but unfortunately the letter arrived too late, two days after the school had closed for the Christmas break.

"It was stamped 20 days prior to me receiving it. To make matters worse, the school is only about 800 hundred yards from my house."

On Wednesday, he received three Christmas cards through his letter box, which were sent on December 14, 17 and 19 from Whittle-le-Woods, Brinscall and the Lake District.

He said: "I am afraid that all the excuses about snow and ice will not hold up on these failures. I am certain that a two or three day hold-up does not equate to a three-week jam in the system.

"The postal service has gone to hell in a handbasket as far as I am concerned."

Angela Wilson said: "I am still waiting for around 15 small parcels all posted 1st class before December 23.

"I have had letters at my address in Farington on two days since December 22.

"The back log at Leyland Delivery Office must be immense."

Julie Carson, from Ulnes Walton, received a Christmas card on January 6 that was posted on December 16.

She described the postal service as: "Useless in the run-up to Christmas, and they have the nerve to increase a first class stamp by 5p!"

Mrs Gwendolyn Henderson, of Clayton-le-Woods, said: "I have been receiving Christmas cards every day since Tuesday January 4.

"I received my latest Christmas January 7. The postmark said December 21 and was posted with a first class stamp from Longridge - not a million miles away.

"I'm still waiting for cards and other letters that should have arrived. The post this Christmas has been dreadful, extremely slow, highlighting the inefficiency of the postal service.

"The service cannot be blamed purely on the arctic weather. I have no faith in the postal system at all. In my opinion it has been on a steady decline for the past few years.

Mrs M Marsden, Leyland, said: "We have had quite a few late Christmas cards. They were from, Hoghton, Eire, Belgium, Lincoln, Preston and Somerset.

"The card I posted to somebody in Somerset was postmarked the December 13 and she told me that it only arrived on Monday January 3.

One thing which has really upset me is that it was my husband's birthday on January 7 and my daughter posted cards from her and from our granddaughter last Monday, and they didn't arrive. They were only coming from Canterbury."

John Gildert said: "We have received 10 cards since the start of the New Year, one dated December 10. A disgraceful service."

One former postman, who lives in Leyland and does not wish to be named, said: "A worker at Leyland's Sorting Office told me that there are piles of undelivered mail from before Christmas. It's nonsense to blame the weather because my bin collections were still carried out, so it's not that places were inaccessible.

"My brother sent a card to someone in Buxton at the same time that he sent mine. The snow was a foot deep there but the card still arrived in time for Christmas, whereas mine hasn't yet, so I can only assume that it's stuck in Leyland.

"It's not down to the snow; there's something going on at Leyland's sorting office. It's a real scandal."

He blames the raft of changes to the way Royal Mail employees are expected to work for causing the problems.

Royal Mail denied that there are parcels awaiting delivery since before Christmas.

A spokesman said: "We are sorry if any Christmas mail posted by the recommended posting dates did not arrive in time.

"We did deliver by Christmas the majority of the almost two billion letters, cards, packets and parcels posted in the run-up to Christmas. We always welcome hearing from any customer who has a concern or a query about the service."

* Are you still receiving late Christmas cards? Email christopher.maguire@lep.co.uk or call 01257 264911.