Candidate gets apology from Royal Mail

ARBROATH councillor David Fairweather has received a letter of apology from Royal Mail which has acknowledged shortcomings in its delivery service during last year’s election campaign for the Scottish Parliament.

He stood as an independent candidate in the Angus South constituency and arranged for Royal Mail to deliver 35,000 brochures as part of his campaign.

However, while canvassing in Arbroath he was repeatedly told that his literature had not been received.

But when he contacted Royal Mail he was initially told that all his leaflets had been delivered.

However, they have now conceded that around 10,000 of the leaflets were not delivered and have apologised for the error.

Mr Paul Kelly, regional operations director, explained: “The Arbroath Delivery Office received two separate mailings - one on behalf of the AIR Party for the Regional seat in the elections and one on your behalf for the Angus South constituency.

“They were very similar in design, colour and appearance and the straplined “Fairweather X” figured prominently on the front of both leaflets.

“Clearly as a candidate in Angus South this was to be expected on your constituency leaflet. However, its prominence on the regional leaflet of your colleague in a separate election led in part to the confusion which resulted.”

He continued: “When the leaflets were unpacked ready for distribution, our colleagues mistakenly assumed that the two postings were in fact only one for yourself, leading to some material not being delivered.”

Fellow Angus Councillor Peter Nield also stood as an independent candidate in the north-east regional list.

Royal Mail has refunded Mr Fairweather’s original postage cost of £600.

In the election he received 1,321 votes, 61 short of saving his deposit.

Councillor Fairweather said: “As I spoke to people I knew in Arbroath two weeks before the election it became clear that some had not received my election leaflet.

“I called Royal Mail at Bathgate and they said there had been a delay and that the problem would be resolved. However, it was already past the deadline for postal votes at that stage.

“Some more leaflets did go out but 15 postcodes in Arbroath - my home town and key target area - never received them.”

Mr Kelly said that the need to review their procedures had been raised with local managers to ensure that proper controls are in place to avoid this sort of problem happening in the future.

He concluded: “It was an exceptionally busy period with many additional items being delivered in a very short period of time to separate closely defined areas and this also contributed to the problem with your material.”

However Councillor Fairweather did not understand how the mix up could have happened.

He said: “We don’t look alike and my leaflets had a picture of me and my dog, plus they were given to Royal Mail a week apart.

“I am happy they have done a thorough investigation and pleased to have received a refund.

“I wasn’t going to win the election because as an individual I cannot beat the big party machines but it would have made me one of the best independents in Scotland on a votes received basis.”