Volcanic ash cloud blamed for Royal Mail delays

A plume of ash rises from the volcano in the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, Iceland, April 2010
Image caption A plume of ash rises from the volcano in the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, Iceland, April 2010

The Icelandic volcano ash cloud is being blamed for the Royal Mail missing its first class delivery targets in half the postcode areas of Wales.

Figures from Consumer Focus Wales show the service under-performed in mid and north Wales and in the Newport area.

Businesses in mid Wales say they were disproportionately hit as many suffer poor internet connections as well.

The Royal Mail said it was determined to improve but it had met the majority of other delivery targets.

From April to June, when the ash cloud grounded planes, it failed to meet its next day delivery target of 91.5% of first class, stamped and metered mail in four out of eight Welsh regions.

The Llandrindod Wells (LD postcode), which covers a large area of mid Wales including Brecon, Builth Wells, Knighton and Rhayader, was the worst performing area with 83.3%.

Mike Theodoulou, chairman of the Mid and West Wales Chamber, said late postal deliveries hit businesses in rural areas harder.

"Most businesses in cities such as Cardiff and Swansea rely less and less on postal services and more and more on the internet," he said.

"Internet connectivity is not the best in mid Wales so in terms of contact with customers and customer service it's not the best news is it?"

He said there was "always a reason" when targets were missed.

"I think the real test is what they are going to do about it to make sure it does not happen again."

In North Wales (LL) the figure was 89.2%, Newport (NP) 89.9% and Chester & Deeside (CH) 90.7%.

There was an improvement on the last financial year when it missed first class delivery targets in every region in Wales blaming industrial action and bad weather.

'Determined to improve'

Rebecca Thomas, Royal Mail expert at Consumer Focus Wales, said she accepted the ash cloud in April hit mail that was carried by plane.

"But Royal Mail will now have to perform exceptionally well for the rest of the year to hit its overall targets for 2010/11," she added.

Tony Baxter, the Royal Mail's regional operations director for Wales, said most other targets, including delivery times for second class and standard parcels, were reached.

"We are aware that some of our quality of service results in some postcode areas of Wales are below target.

"We are determined to improve on these figures and we are focusing our attention on achieving this task."

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