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Barnehurst? Return to sender

After many emails, maps, our local MP and local councillor involvement - the investigations by the Royal Mail has resulted in Barnehurst not existing as a postal address.

So if you live in Barnehurst then your official address is either Erith or Bexleyheath.

Post boxYou could be slap bang in the middle of Barnehurst yet it has never been held as a post town (weird?). In the old days people put Barnehurst down as their address and people accepted it. Sadly, automatic address finding software will only find Bexleyheath or Erith - the actual sorting offices. No doubt some of you have found this when ordering online or giving your address over the telephone.

My proposal to Royal Mail was to add Barnehurst into addresses, i.e.

1A The Street
Barnehurst
Bexleyheath
Kent DA7 6HH

This would have preserved the identity of Barnehurst.

Yet it seems the way mail is delivered is the issue. Barnehurst has two postal towns - Erith & Bexleyheath - delivering to two separate sorting offices would affect service. If we had only one delivery office (i.e. Bexleyheath) then many postcodes would have to change.

I was told by Royal Mail: "I have now completed my enquiries with my operational colleagues and they have advised that, in their opinion, the addition of the locality of Barnehurst into all addresses within the geographic area could lead to a deterioration in the service we provide."

I asked "Why not put Barnehurst under just one post town and one sorting office. Anything addressed to Barnehurst gets sorted at Bexleyheath?"

"Doing so would mean transferring deliveries for a number of addresses from Erith to Bexleyheath delivery office and would also mean that it would be necessary to re-postcode a large number of addresses from DA8 to DA7. Under our code of practice, we could only carry out this type of change if there is an operational reason to do so, rather than in response to a customer’s request. As we have not been advised of any operational issues arising as a result of the current setup, it will not be possible to comply with your request."

To be fair to Royal Mail they have been helpful and swift with responses and I can sort of understand their operational issues but for Barnehurst residents our location will remain unknown to a majority of people.

I was also told: "We produce the Postcode Address File (PAF) as a database of UK postal addresses and as the postal address reflects the way we deliver mail, it is not always a geographical representation of where properties are located. Under the code of practice, we will add additional locality information if doing so will not have an impact on our operation. Unfortunately, in this instance, the delivery office have advised this could lead to issues, therefore, we cannot proceed."

So there you have it, Barnehurst exists to you and me but just don't tell anyone your address, it's not worth the hassle.

Barnehurst - is that Bexleyheath?

Not sure if you have noticed this but more and more letters are addressed to me (slap bang in the middle of Barnehurst) stating my address is Bexleyheath?

I live in Barnehurst and over the past few years the use of the name Barnehurst on post is declining.

If you try saying your address over the phone to a bank, shop etc., I'll guarantee the person at the other end is typing in your postcode to auto fill the details. If you say Barnehurst, you'll be asked 'is that Bexleyheath?' or 'is that Barnehurst, Bexleyheath?'

No it's not.

It happened again to me the other when trying to give my address for security clearance. When I said Barnehurst the system didn't recognise me. I had to say I lived in Bexleyheath.

The final straw was trying to fill out an online payment - again Barnehurst wasn’t recognised. Try telling that to the 10,000 plus residents.

One reason this is happening is that more and more systems are being used to auto find addresses and the reason Barnehurst is not found is because it has NEVER been a postal town. Address database software has increased in recent years, rather than there being any change to the postal address itself.

Royal Mail's Address Change Team have kindly explained the situation and the terms of the PAF (postal address file).

Royal Mail have said they would consider a proposal from me for addresses to state the following;

22a The Street
Barnehurst
BEXLEYHEATH
DA7 6HH

This could only be done if 20% or fewer residents objected and consultations with the board for address changes.

What do you think? Is this proposal a good idea?

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