East Croydon Post Office move: have we just forgotten?

By - Thursday 19th December, 2013

Maybe you missed the memo among the christmas cards, so here’s Andy Ellis with a timely reminder that the post may be no better in 2014…

Picture by Chris Beckett.
Used under Creative Commons license.

A recent leaflet from the Conservative Party and a petition campaign organised by Labour recently brought my attention to the impending relocation of the Royal Mail sorting office from Cherry Orchard Road to Factory Lane.

This is something which should be prompting some vigorous debate, but instead I have, of late, heard little more than silence. Have we given up – or just become resigned to Royal Mail’s cavalier action?

This has prompted me to put pen to paper (or, more literally, finger to keyboard) and dig out the letter from Royal Mail, received on 14th November, which said that the relocation would take place “‘early in 2014″.  Let’s have a look at the merits and drawbacks.

The Factory Lane location does, apparently, have its own parking – which I guess is an improvement on East Croydon. It is, however, not the most straightforward drive, especially from the East side of town.

Public transport is a challenge. Seven minutes walk from the nearest bus (264) and fifteen minutes from Church Street tram stop. Hardly convenient for lugging that bulky parcel home. The TFL website suggests a journey time of 29 minutes from central Croydon.

The current location is right by Croydon’s transport hub, served by twelve bus routes, all three trams and, of course, East Croydon station. There is parking (admittedly metered) at East Croydon station or a little further afoot in nearby roads. Taxis are also readily available.

In addition it is right on the route to and from town for workers, shoppers, commuters and citizens in general. For many it is only a minute’s diversion from a regular journey, not the possible one hour round trip needed for Factory Lane.

Royal Mail is supposed to be a public service, but this decision takes no account of the extra expense to Croydon residents.

Royal Mail obviously recognises the problems which are going to be caused because the letter goes on to point out that mail can be redelivered on an appointed day or sent to a local post office for collection. Scant benefit for those working 9-5 who then have to spend saturday morning waiting at home or queueing at the local PO.

No account is taken of PO Box holders or Mail Collect customers who will have no choice but to make the extra journey anyway.

So, what are the reasons for the move? Apparently declining mail letter volumes means that the currently delivery office “is now unfit for purpose”. One could understand this if the mail volume increased, but how can it be unable to cope with a lower amount?

I’m no expert on the logistics and economics of running such a building, but if demand is lower then could they not simply divide up the building and rent out spare capacity? If money is such an issue then why have they never rented out the old post office adjoining the sorting office – closed for at least five years and which would have yielded six figures in rent by now?

Royal Mail is supposed to be a public service. This move might save them money but takes no account of the extra expense – both in time and money – to Croydon residents. Extra vehicle journeys will add to congestion and pollution.

Have they also taken no note of Croydon Regen? The existing site is right on the doorstep and ideal for serving new developments. Businesses coming to or starting up in Croydon will not be encouraged by a mail collection service a mile away on a poorly accessible industrial estate.

This has been a done deal, dumped on residents with neither consultation nor consideration.

Andy Ellis

Andy Ellis

Descendant of an old Devonshire family, Andy has spent over 25 years of his life in Croydon. He runs a small computer business, is a student at Seishin Ryu Aikido, helps to teach the Body Harmony community fitness classes held in several libraries across the town and, last but not least, dances with the Purley-based North Wood Morris Men.

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  • lizsheppardjourno

    Entirely agree with you. I deal with the public every day in that area and can tell you that people have not forgotten and that levels of public anger are high. Not as high, however, as their sense of helpless resignation that the profit motive wants what it wants and will get it.

  • PolarDog
  • Wesley Jordan Anthony Baker

    Interesting to read as I’ve never been a frequent user of the parcel collection office in Croydon. When I studied in Coventry the sorting office moved from the city centre to a site about 2-3 miles only easily accessible by car, which I didn’t have so thank god for my bicycle. Seems to be a trend.

    My dad works at East Croydon sorting office so is moving into the new location. He was telling me he noticed the cars queued up to collect letters/parcels and the problem he noticed was there isn’t enough parking spaces if there is a high demand. I always had this idea that Royal Mail could do a service like Amazons locker, like the one in Centrale.

    With all the empty units in the town centre and no use in the near future they could rent these spaces to store items that couldn’t be delivered. It could be a manned operation which would probably be better. I’ve often gone to pick something up and had a worker come back and ask what size it is not having been able to find it. What do you think oif that idea Andy? Maybe its an idea backed up with a large list of signatures etc that could interest them and benefit the customers.