ONGOING postal delays in Colchester have been slammed as “chaos” after Royal Mail bosses blamed sickness and staff shortages for the issues.

Colchester residents across the city have been experiencing long waits for their post over the past several weeks.

Shelley March, for example, told the Gazette back in September of how she had not received any letters for three weeks, despite reportedly being told there were no delays.

Since then councillor Martin Goss has raised the issue with Royal Mail, prompting an explanation from senior public affairs manager Mike Hogg.

In a letter to Mr Goss, which was shared on social media, Mr Hogg cited lack of staff as the core issue, with “colleagues being away from work through sickness as well as a number of vacancies”.

Gazette: Protest - Royal mail workers in Colchester on strike last yearProtest - Royal mail workers in Colchester on strike last year (Image: Newsquest)

He said: “I have spoken with the customer operations lead who covers the Colchester area.

"They have advised that mail deliveries have been affected over recent weeks due to eight per cent of colleagues being away from work through sickness as well as a number of vacancies.

“Unfortunately, that has impacted mail deliveries. I am very sorry for the obvious impact this will have had on residents.

“The team are doing everything they can to improve the service as quickly as possible.

“We are currently delivering mail at least every other day to maximise the delivery frequency for customers.

“If there is a specific address which is of concern please do let me know and I will look into this further.”

Mr Hogg said the company is “working hard” to further improve the service to customers over the coming weeks, so it delivers “consistently six days a week to all addresses”.

He also added four new posties have recently started and are “familiarising themselves with the deliver rounds”.

Gazette: Concerned - Martin GossConcerned - Martin Goss (Image: NQ)

Speaking to the Gazette, Mr Goss said: “Things are in chaos in Colchester.

“The statement was a little disappointing, I raised the issue in March, and it seems to be the same issues.

“It feels like they have sent me the same cut-and-paste response, the only difference being the new posties they have recruited.

“Nothing has changed or improved, and it is arguably getting worse in my opinion, which is not good with Christmas approaching.”

What has Royal Mail said?

The postal giant has defended the delays, saying it has "dedicated teams responsible for improving deliveries in Colchester".

It also said it is taking on "temporary workers" in the lead up to Christmas to handle "double the normal volume of parcels expected".

In a statement, a Royal Mail spokesman said: “We are committed to restoring our quality of service to our customers.

"We have plans in place and dedicated teams responsible for improving deliveries in Colchester and at our delivery offices nationwide.

“Since summer, we have recruited more than 7,000 postmen and women and are continuing to recruit 500 permanent positions a week in delivery.

"To support the health of our employees and assist them in their return to work, we have introduced a wellbeing programme which provides colleagues with free, confidential, and independent healthcare support, including unlimited 24/7 access to an online GP.

“In the lead up to Christmas, we are taking on 16,000 temporary workers, more vehicles and additional parcel sorting sites to handle double the normal volume of parcels we expect over the period.

“These actions plus others are already making a difference in some areas and we are confident that they will continue to improve quality of service for our customers.”