The Post Office delivery office in Radlett is closing

A closed sign

UPDATE, 27 June: I dropped into the Post Office on Saturday to grill the always friendly and helpful staff there about the fate of the branch. They were, understandably, reluctant to speak out of turn and stuck to the official line that the branch will not be closed. However, it was suggested that they’d know more about the location of the branch in a month or so. Speculating wildly now: maintaining the Post Office counter business in the current Post Office premises might not be sustainable once the delivery office has been closed, so a ‘back-of-the-shop’ location – in, for instance, Budgen or Chocolate Box – or a full-on shopfront operation in one of the village’s empty shops would make perfect sense. I’ll stress that this is just guesswork on my part right now and the Post Office’s official line is that no ‘relocation’ is planned. Watch this space, as they say in other exciting, fast-moving news outlets.

Staff at the Radlett post office have begun to tell customers that the delivery office at the back will close early next year. Barry Allsuch, local estate agent, tweeted (in a Direct Message to @RadlettWire) this week that he’d been told the closure would also affect the post office branch at the front, an even nastier prospect for Radlett people. The Watford Oberver’s 24 May story is based on this press release:


Royal Mail announced today (Tuesday 24 May) that Radlett Delivery Office, 122 Watling Street, RADLETT WD7 7AF will be relocated to its Borehamwood office in early 2012.

Faced with declining mail volumes and increasingly tough trading conditions, Royal Mail constantly reviews the operational efficiency and commercial practicality of all its units. As part of our business-wide investment and modernisation programme, Royal Mail is investing in new technology and equipment and upgraded operational facilities to ensure we have world class facilities which provide the most efficient and effective network for delivering the post.

At the same time we need to respond to the huge growth in electronic communications and the resulting decline in overall mail volumes which in the UK means that there are now 16 million fewer letters posted every day compared to five years ago.

The move of the Radlett operation which delivers mail to customers in the WD7 postcode area will provide improved working conditions, secure more cost effective operation.

Detailed planning for the move will take place in the coming weeks and months to ensure a smooth transition for our customers and staff in Radlett. Following the move customers will be able to collect mail from Borehamwood Delivery Office, 23 Shenley Road, BOREHAMWOOD WD6 1AF on the occasions when we have not been able to deliver first time and have left a card. For customers who prefer not to visit the enquiry office in person, Royal Mail offers a free redelivery service which can be accessed online or by calling the number on the card we leave. The delivery of mail will continue to meet Royal Mail’s specifications.

Royal Mail’s Thames Valley Delivery Director, Gary Burgess said: “We are telling our people about the move now before the detailed planning starts. We want to be able to work with our people on the change and have the opportunity to discuss the implications individually.”

There will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of this change and Royal Mail will also reimburse its people for any extra mileage incurred as a result of the move.

I contacted the press office looking for an official line. Val Antoine came back with these fairly unequivocal words:

I can confirm there are no plans to relocate Radlett Post Office.

I’ll keep an eye on this and please leave a comment if you know more. It seems to me that a good way to diminish a bustling small town of 9,000 is to take away its Post Office.

Radlett’s shortlived farmers’ market is no more

Honey and beeswax on sale at the first Radlett farmers' market in April 2011

Hertsmere Borough Council issued a press release yesterday. The company brought in to operate the three month trial of a farmers’ market in Newberries car park (behind Budgen’s) have given up on the idea. Here’s the release:

Following a three-month trial, the farmers’ market in Radlett will not be continued.

The management company – Hughmark Continental Ltd – came to the decision as they feel the market is not financially viable for them. Lew Hughes, Director, said: “Unfortunately we have decided not to continue with the market. Even though we weren’t charged for using the car park for the trial we have struggled to cover our costs so it just isn’t worthwhile for us.”

The trial ran at Newberries car park on the third Sunday of April, May and June, with the last market on Sunday (19 June).

Councillor Seamus Quilty, Portfolio Holder for economic development at Hertsmere Borough Council, said: “This may be disappointing for local residents but we cannot continue with the market if it isn’t cost-effective for anyone. We have tried to make it work but we can’t continue it for just a few residents, especially in the current financial climate.

“A small number of people have suggested that we haven’t promoted the market enough but we have done everything possible. This has included putting articles and adverts in various residents’ magazines and local papers, putting up posters in local shops and on lampposts and advertising it on our website and through social media. The last market was also promoted at the Radlett Festival the week before it.”

Simon Payton, Head of Engineering Services at Hertsmere Borough Council with responsibility for markets, added: “The trial started off quite well but never became economically viable – at the end of the day if stallholders don’t make a profit they will not return.

“It is a shame the market hasn’t worked but I think Radlett is a very different place to somewhere like St Albans which has a popular farmers’ market but also has a lot of other things to attract visitors.”

What do you think? Did Hertsmere and Hughmark promote the market properly or was it doomed from the start by a lack of adverts and banners? Was the location up to the task or essentially hidden behind the shops? And does anybody really need a fancy market selling artisan bread and organic honey anyway?

The sounds of Radlett Festival

The audience for the combined choirs of St John's and Fair Field schools in Radlett in the rain at the 2011 Radlett Festival

For your listening pleasure, a montage of sounds from last weekend’s Radlett Festival. You will hear Gavin from Tzar in the High Street; Louis (selling cakes for a charity whose name he can’t remember); Nicola and Louise from Radlett Ladies’ Circle (poker nights, cocktails, chocolate but apparently no crochet classes); Nicolai, a governor at Fair Field and St John’s; an anonymous woman apparently looking for some Morris men; the intrepid founder of Salsa Brava, Radlett’s own (only?) artisan salsa manufacturer; the quite unhinged people from Radlett Players; Graham Taylor, chair of the Radlett Society (with his really wonderful Aldenham walkers’ map).

Also Susanna with an entirely unearned coconut; Catherine Rose with her Sweetcheeks gluten-free cakes; the combined choirs of Fair Field and St John’s (with selections from Oliver); Gemma, promoting recycling for Hertsmere Borough Council; the girls from the Radlett World Challenge (they’re raising money for a charitable trip to Thailand and Cambodia); Mrs Strickland, Brownie leader (and long-time Fair Field dinner lady), Clive Glover from Radio Verulam (and the voice of Phil Richards on the mic); John Mileham from Elstree and Borehamwood Light Operatic Society; the sound of Ricky Lopez and his Bratpack show and Sylvia Cohen from the Radlett Festival organisers. Plus some dogs.

I could (and really should) have spoken to so many more people on that rainy day. I missed the Morris men all together and definitely should have spoken to Ricky Lopez and the nice people from Bhaktivedanta Manor (who were there with their lovely free food as usual). Next time!

Download the MP3. Festival founder and chairman Allan Beaver spoke to Radlett Wire a couple of weeks ago. Lots more pictures from the Festival on Flickr. Get audio like this delivered to your computer for nothing: subscribe to the Radlett Wire podcast.

The Radlett Festival. Were we downhearted? Not really

Yes, it rained all day. Yes, the dog show lacked its usual glossy sheen in the downpour. But the Ricky Lopez Ratpack Show proceeded with pizazz worthy of Palm Springs and Clive Glover, one of the organisers, tweeted on Monday that over 1,000 attended the festival during the day so I expect that the event will still have raised a substantial sum for the charities and local organisations it supports (I’ll try to update on that once the details are available). I was taking photos and recording audio of the event (which I’ll publish later) and literally everyone I spoke to during the day was relentlessly chirpy about the whole thing. A proper British Summer treat, in fact.

All the photos on Flickr are published under a Creative Commons licence, which means you may use them without permission and for free. You just need to provide a credit or a link back if you use them. Let me know if you do. And if you’re in any of the pics or you know the names of those who are, please add a comment or a note to let me know.

“I am just a cog in the wheel of a very big machine” – Allan Beaver on the Radlett Festival

Allan Beaver

Allan Beaver, now 77, is widely acknowledged to be the moving force behind the Radlett Festival, responsible for its revival in 2004 and for much of its success – as a fun day out and as an impressive source of charitable funding for local projects – over £40,000 has been raised and dispersed to charity since 2004.

He spoke to me in the lovely ‘teen shelter’ at Phillimore Rec – part-funded by the Festival of course – on the weekend before the festival. It’s a fascinating story – a potted history of Allan’s time in Radlett with his wife Muriel, touching on his business Beaver Travel, his academic life (he’s a professor), his writing and, of course, the Festival itself.

He generously credits the rest of the enthusiastic festival team. The festival starts at noon today and, although it’s raining as I type this, I suspect it’ll be another hit.

If you can’t attend, or if you want to catch up with the excitement before you go, you can tune in two hours of live coverage from noon on our local radio station, Radio Verulam, 92.6FM, or online.

Download the MP3. More pictures of Allan on Flickr. This is an episode from the Radlett Wire podcast. Get every episode delivered to your computer for free here.

Can you do me yet? Rory Bremner at the Radlett Centre

Rory Bremner

In the week the Jerry Seinfeld played the 02, I went to see Rory Bremner. As Russell Howard warms up at the Harrow Arts for his 02 gigs, Rory Bremner was at the Radlett Centre. Despite this injustice, there’s no doubt that Bremner remains one of this country’s top impressionists and one of our finest comedy performers.

The first time I saw him live was in Edinburgh where he sat at a desk as Bill Clinton did during his impeachment testimony about Monica Lewinsky. The impression was spot on, the material brilliant. But what made it special was that the real life event had only just taken place. So it was no surprise to find Bremner riffing about FIFA throughout the night, on the very day events were unfolding in Zurich.

His targets included the last government, the current coalition, the Royals and celebrity culture with pretty much everyone else in between. The only thing missing is that he can’t really do impressions of the currrent crop. “I saw Nick Clegg the other day, he said can you do me yet, I said no can you?”

I saw the show with a Tory newspaper columnist who made the valid point though that if he could do people like George Osborne and Chris Huhne would the audience know what they sound like? But all sides of the political spectrum were given a hard time, his impressions of old hands like John Prescott and Michael Howard are still hilarious. It also struck me that unlike most comics who are telling stories or doing ‘bits’ on various subjects, Bremner just has a phenomenal amount to remember, and he never misses a beat.

It’s a shame he isn’t on television anymore, Channel 4 seem to have moved on to hipper acts. On the evidence of this fine show at the Radlett Centre he could certainly teach the younger generaion a thing or two.

Brett Spencer lives in Bushey and, in his day job, is interactive editor for BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music