I DIDN’T get any letters three times in the last ten days. Not because no one writes to me but because Royal Mail didn’t deliver.

There was a time when Royal Mail delivered – no pun intended – a service claiming that first class post was delivered next working day. But since privatisation it has focused on delivering profits for shareholders regardless of its obligation to provide a universal postal service to every UK address six days per week.

As a result, over the past week, with my usual post lady on holiday, local managers decided not to cover the round for letters every second day, sending out only time-critical parcel deliveries on behalf of the likes of Amazon to meet their ‘Prime’ next-day delivery targets. This occasional and unexpected gap in service is no longer exceptional but the norm.

Ofcom levied a £1.5m fine on Royal Mail for missed delivery target of 93% of first class mail delivered next working day during the year 2018/19 having only managed 91.5%. It is clear the 7% acceptable failure and, increasingly the 1.5% unacceptable failure, falls disproportionally on the rural community.

These same rural customers, already limited in their access to transport, and health services, who rely on Royal Mail both for the certainty of delivery and for the opportunity to post letters into ‘access points’ (post boxes to most of us) are wondering where this thin end of the wedge will leave us in future. Withdrawal of rural post boxes, and five-days-a-week deliveries?

Add to that the plight of Mr Roberts and the community of Isel who cannot rely on a reliable digital service (Times & Star, September 24), and while the nouveau rich in the Home Counties might aspire to country living, maybe the only chance we have of securing services on a par with our urban neighbours will be for those chattering classes to add their voice to ours.

I shall, of course, send this letter via email as to expect Royal Mail to deliver it next day would be a step too far, I fear.



Control of chemicals

I WRITE in response to your article regarding the report of the Agricultural Bill and the discussions of the use of pesticides and the suspected effects on health as highlighted by Lord Campbell-Savours in the House of Lords (Times & Star, September 24).

Lord Campbell-Savours’ admiration of and support for the late Dr Bill Fakes in regard to this possible health hazard is evident. It is understandable that Dr Fakes was personally affected by his family trauma, especially when the cause of the illness and death was out of his control.

Likewise, the death of the late Nicola Helen Blackman, was out of the control of her family, when an inappropriate level of medicine was prescribed. Pesticides, chemicals and pharmaceuticals in general should be controlled to a higher degree, and those responsible for their use, must be accountable and be continually vigilant as to their potential for harm.

As Nicola’s family look towards another Christmas, we cannot help wondering how her life would have developed. Did she enjoy school? Did she go on to university? Did she have a successful working life, and would she have married and had a family of her own? We hope so. And would she have had friends in high places to fight for her and her family in their hour of need?

Hopefully, the inappropriate use of all types of chemicals that can cause harm, will in the future be scrutinised so all our citizens are protected by improvements in professional education and administration.




LONG before Boris Johnson was allowed by ignorant politicians and some members of the public who should know better to unleash carnage on our country, Eddie Mair – a perceptive interviewer – summed him up to a tee when he intimated to Johnson that, behind that bonhomie smile and loveable eccentric act, he was really a nasty piece of work.

Boris’s mock surprise at the statement told me he was sussed and, more importantly, so did Johnson. No wonder he hates interviews because truer words were never spoken.

Johnson is a devil’s advocate leading a chamber of horrors government.

When Ed Miliband skewered him over his dishonesty Johnson behaved like a spoiled brat, one minute looking down at his chest, the next throwing his gaze skyward – anything rather than look Miliband in the eye.

Now Ed is not my idea of an attack dog but he put the truth out there, and Johnson shrank.

I wonder if Eddie Mair was watching? I do hope so.



The bombing of Maryport

I READ the Times & Star as an exile but was very interested in the July 31 article by Viv Paterson regarding the memories of John Roonan about the Luftwaffe bombing of Maryport on July 21 1940.

It is a subject in which I have long had an interest being taught by my dad, William Scales, all about it. As I was taught, there were four bombs in all, loosed by a bomber returning from an abortive trip to the Clyde, but when he saw Maryport harbour he decided to jettison his load over the town. I was always taught that the site of the four bombs were:

  • Bomb one, the top of High Street near the Settlement entrance (the ruins remain to this day);
  • Bomb two, on Shipping Brow, accounting for the gap to the right of the Lifeboat Inn;
  • Bomb three, on the British School off Market Square;
  • Bomb four, on Well Lane.

I was also told that the occupants of High Street were killed and this was doubly unfortunate as they were evacuees from Middlesbrough who had ironically sought refuge from bombing raids.

Mr Roonan vaguely refers to Jessie and Sarah Harrison who were visiting from South Shields – might these have been the evacuees from Teeside?

There were further casualties in Well Lane but the other two bombs fortunately caused no casualties. There seem to have been eight deaths altogether and the article gives the names of all eight, but confusingly refers to the sweet shop as firstly Mr & Mrs Harrison but later as Joseph and Sarah Howard.

Do any readers have more information or direct memories to clarify what transpired, or is what I was taught wrong? I would welcome any information at philip.scales@hotmail.co.uk or by letter to your esteemed paper.


Leyland, Lancs.


This government appears to begrudge fully funding the furlough help for workers and business. Yet Germany has accepted paying 80% of wages plus pension payments for two years during the Covid crisis.

People don’t seem to realise the lockdown and shutdown has been ordered by the government. So it should be the obligation of that government to fund the losses arising from this imposed shutdown.

I appreciate the lockdown may have some logic in reducing the health risks, but whatever the motivation it is still a ban on everyday business imposed by questionable statute. And most of the bailout money they begrudge spending is actually our money from the taxes we pay on every aspect of our lives.