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Posties prove their worth

Barely-addressed letter arrives as fears over Royal Mail service cuts continue

 

As the founder of the Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society’s fears over Royal Mail’s bid to cut second-class deliveries became national news, posties at the delivery giant proved their worth.

Just a couple of days after Dinah Johnson appeared in The Times extolling the virtues of handwriting letters and cards, an envelope mis-addressed to her at HSLA (article in The Times 08.04.24) Hand Written Letter Society, Dorset, with the note “can you help me” landed in her PO box!

Above: Dinah Johnson loves sending letters – but laughed at the Mail calling her heroic
Above: Dinah Johnson loves sending letters – but laughed at the Mail calling her heroic

The posties took the trouble to track down her postcode and PO Box 9347 and make sure the letter arrived safely from a potential new member for the organisation Dinah set up from her garden shed in 2017 to promote and celebrate the craft.

Lamenting Royal Mail’s latest idea to ask industry regulator Ofcom to cut second class deliveries to every other weekday, while first class would keep a six-day service, she told the newspaper: “Writing a letter is so much more personal than sending an email or a WhatsApp message. It’s something Royal Mail have never really promoted or valued, despite the fact it is this wonderful thing, an asset, that makes money for them.”

Above & top: Posties managed to get this mis-addressed letter to Dinah
Above & top: Posties managed to get this mis-addressed letter to Dinah

And the story of how Dinah founded the HLAS to keep people around the world in touch by writing letters also found its way into the Telegraph and the print edition of the Daily Mail alongside a quiz about famous letters and letter writers, in which she was dubbed “heroic”. Dinah laughed: “That might be a bit of a leap but it was very sweet that we got a mention.”

Presenter Chris Evans, known for setting up the BBC’s 500 Words children’s short story-writing competition, also talked about Dinah and the HLAS on his Virgin Radio Breakfast show.

Dinah loves writing and receiving letters, and even sent home missives from university, once asking her dad to send her a “big letter” – he posted one on A1 flipchart paper!

Lamenting the rise in stamp prices, which have increased four times in just two years to £1.35 for first class and 85p for second from 2 April, she added: “All we keep hearing about is how expensive stamps are becoming, and that it’s a rubbish service. Now people are being told that the cheaper way of sending letters will take longer. Even if it doesn’t mean too much difference, it will just put people off more.

Above: The Times featured Dinah’s campaign and fears over RM’s plans to cut the service
Above: The Times featured Dinah’s campaign and fears over RM’s plans to cut the service

“This is how you get to the death of letter-writing. I didn’t think when I set up the society that there would be a scenario where the service would be threatened, but it is.”

Dinah’s comments are part of the overarching condemnation of Royal Mail’s bid to persuade Ofcom to change the universal service obligation (uso) whereby it must deliver letters across the UK six days a week for the same price, which appeared to be supported by the industry regulator in its The Future Of The Postal Service review.

The government and the general public do not support the plan to slash letter deliveries to five or even three days with a more expensive option retained to allow for next-day deliveries, and Royal Mail has now proposed second-class deliveries on alternate week days while keeping the six-day first-class letter post – but with no cap on prices – which it claims would keep it within the uso while cutting up to 1,000 jobs and saving £300million a year.

Above: Just one day’s letters being sent by Dinah at the weekend
Above: Just one day’s letters being sent by Dinah at the weekend

On top of this, there is now a takeover bid in the offing for Royal Mail’s parent company International Distributions Services by Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský, who already owns 27.6% of IDS through Vesa, a Luxembourg-based investment vehicle of the EP Group he controls.

Having had a £3.1billion cash offer – which valued the company at 320p per share significantly above even the 276p shares rose to when the news broke – rejected, the man known as the Czech Sphinx due to his inscrutable demeanour is expected to make a second offer by the deadline of 15 May.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, EP Group called 508-year-old Royal Mail “an important national asset” and said it is “prepared to support this iconic business as it transforms and rebuilds into a modern postal operator”, adding that “is proud to support the businesses in which it invests”.

Above: The GCA is fighting to safeguard a reliable and affordable postal service
Above: The GCA is fighting to safeguard a reliable and affordable postal service

The GCA is continuing its campaign to safeguard a reliable and affordable postal service and is further strengthening links with mps, government ministers and interested bodies as part of this.

The trade association is urging everybody in the greeting card industry to do their bit, for the good of the greeting card industry and society as a whole, by sending letters raising the issue with their local mps both at their home and business addresses.

There is a comprehensive blog on the GCA website with an updated letter template which publishers, retailers, trade suppliers and agents can download and adapt before sending to their mps, and also contains an mp-lookup facility.

 

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