Any forlorn hope I had entertained that my previous postings on the above subject would be the last, has been well and truly shattered by the recent goings-on among my usual suspects; Walsall Council and the Institution formerly known as the Post Office, or Royal Mail Group, as it now likes to be called. In both cases, the underlying cause was that perennial favourite beloved of bureaucrats everywhere – our old nemesis, Health & Safety.
In the run-up to Christmas, the UK as everyone knows was hit by heavy snow, worse than most people could remember, but for our Continental and US cousins, nothing out of the ordinary. Thanks to Adam Crozier’s so-called improvements to the mail service while he was CEO, it’s normally 11.30 before we see our morning post – any later and they’d have to call it brunch post!If our regular postie is off for any reason, it’s very much in the lap of the gods what time the usual assortment of junk mail and pizza leaflets arrive through the front door along with what is termed “useful stuff”. Things like cheques, greetings cards, subscription paid magazines etc. On 22nd December we received no post at all, which was particularly inconvenient as I was waiting for a cheque to bank before the Christmas holiday. The following day when our postie did arrive, he told us that while he and his colleagues were prepared to go out on delivery the previous day – as in the days when the post was actually a Service – they were informed by their managers that if they did so and were hurt, they could expect neither sick pay nor sympathy, as they would be deemed to have ignored health and safety advice. I kid you not.
Turning to the council, whilst perusing the Walsall Chronicle last week, I came across a story which seems sadly all-too familiar these days but worth mentioning, as it falls into a long line of similar nonsense from both our own, and other council jobsworths. In a show of neighbourliness so rarely seen these days, a sixty year old lollipop man took it upon himself to shovel snow and ice off an entrance footpath in order that a ninety year old woman could leave her home, having been snowed in for eight days. Unfortunately, this spirit of generosity was not reciprocated by Walsall Housing Group, the old lady’s landlords, who not only content with admonishing him by letter for doing the right thing by a senior citizen, also resorted to having one of its staff give him a verbal ticking off for doing so as well. To the old boy’s credit, he has made it abundantly clear he will do it again if necessary.
Walsall Council is under pressure to save some £65m over the next three years due to cuts in the central grant. Royal Mail Group continues to haemorrhage both money and mail volumes to competitors, as well as to other new forms of communication. Perhaps we ought to take a closer look at those jobsworths who were responsible for these ridiculous rulings in the first place. I’m in no doubt, we could probably make further savings among these self-righteous morons, without any discernible impact on essential services to the community.