Please Mr Postman: Widdington villagers battle Royal Mail to keep their postie

SWS 28 Postie

SWS 28 Postie - Credit: Archant

Villagers in Widdington are so keen to keep their postman that they have chained him to the village sign.

They say he is the world’s kindest postman and they don’t want him despatched elsewhere.

After they learned that Bill Banner, their postman for 13 years was being moved to another round, they drew up a petition, presented to Saffron Walden’s Royal Mail HQ in the High Street yesterday (Wednesday). They have also written to their MP, Sir Alan Haselhurst.

Protest leader Cathie Southcott, chairman of the Widdington Parish Council, said: “I knocked at all 193 doors in the village and I got signatures at every one. We have 321 names. People who were out when I called rushed to my house anxious to sign. It is absurd that Royal Mail would want to move a man who is such a magnificent representation of its organisation. It’s bonkers.

“No one wants Bill to be moved. So many people have recounted stories of his kindnesses. They say: ‘Bill knows us’ and ‘Bill knows where things go’.”

She explained: “Bill is an integral part of our village. He has worked out all the links between groups of friends and relatives so if people are out he leaves their parcels with their friends. He knows everyone. He knows their cats and dogs. He goes to peoples parties and their funerals.”

Mrs Southcott said Widdington was among several villages losing postmen of longstanding.

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“If we in Widdington lose Bill, Wendens Ambo also lose their postman. Our new postman will have to be retrained and Bill will have to be retrained if he goes somewhere else. He is also very unhappy at the change.”

Mr Banner, 49, who grew up in Saffron Walden, said: “I love the people in this village. I have been here for 13 years and I have a good rapport with my customers. It’s a horrible feeling that I might not do the delivery any more.

“A lot of them work long hours and if they are out they don’t want to arrange a re-delivery. They prefer the parcel to be left with their friends even if it’s on the other side of the village. These are little things that I think should be part of the service.”

Sir Alan, who may also be losing his postie in his home village of Duddenoe End, said he would make representations to Royal Mail on his constituents behalf. He said: “There is obviously a strong bond between this particular postman and his customers.”

Royal Mail spokesman Morag Turnbull said: “We are pleased that our customers in Widdington have had such excellent service from one of our postmen. It is always gratifying when our customers recognise the hard work of their postman or woman. We need to continually review our operation in the light of falling volumes – fewer letters and more parcels.

“When changes are necessary, we allocate routes based on seniority. This is agreed between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union. We fully understand our customers’ concerns, and recognise how important long-serving postmen and women are to the communities they serve.

“We’d like to reassure customers that all our postmen and women are trained to a very high standard and Royal Mail will continue to deliver a high quality service in Widdington.”