Starmer urges minister to meet Royal Mail over postal vote delay fears

Keir Starmer has called on a government minister to meet the postal service over concerns that hundreds of people could miss out on casting their vote on polling day after their ballots failed to arrive.

The Labour leader said the Post Office minister, Kevin Hollinrake, should “get on with the job” of sorting out the problem that is believed to have hit Scotland, where the school holidays have already started, particularly badly.

Hollinrake was said to be “urgently” investigating a failure to get ballot packs to people in some constituencies in time for polling day. However, Royal Mail sources said on Tuesday that he had not yet raised his concerns.

Earlier, he had suggested Royal Mail should have anticipated extra demand for postal votes during the summer holidays amid fears that some could be left disfranchised because they are already overseas.

Royal Mail has hit back at criticism, insisting there was “no backlog” before the general election, as experts warned any delay could hit the Conservatives hardest.

However, Starmer told reporters on the campaign trail in Derbyshire: “I think [ministers] should actually get on with the job of sorting this out. It’s rather indicative, if it’s true, of the way the government has been run.

“If you’re in government, and they are in government, at least for the time being, they need to sort it out and get on with sorting it out. We can’t have these people who are entitled to a vote not being able to exercise it.

“So get on with the job, I’d say, and if the Post Office minister hasn’t met them, do it now in the next hour or two. Seriously, though, I mean, we’re running out of time. It’s not something you can do tomorrow.”

Scotland’s first minister, John Swinney, has pushed for a review of the timetable for general elections as a result of the issues with Scottish voters receiving postal ballots.

The election falls in the first full week of the school summer holidays in most parts of Scotland, with delays in receiving postal votes resulting in some Scots being left without a vote owing to already-planned holidays abroad.

In a letter to Rishi Sunak, Swinney said the issues had been caused by a combination of the prime minister’s decision to hold the vote on an “unsuitable date”, and the timetable for elections leaving “little room in it to address issues” which might arise.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We have no backlog of postal service and, whilst we are not complacent, we remain confident that postal votes handed to us on time will be delivered prior to polling day.

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“Where specific concerns have been raised, we have investigated and confirmed ballot packs are being delivered as soon as they arrive in our network.

“We would welcome a review into the timetable for future elections with all stakeholders to ensure that the system for printing and administering postal votes before they are handed to Royal Mail works as smoothly as possible.”

The Local Government Association has called for a review of the already “overburdened” system put under extra pressure by an “unprecedented increase” in people voting by post.

On Monday, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said he was not concerned that some people could be deprived of a vote as a result.


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