VOLCANIC ash has been blamed for the region’s postal services falling short of national targets.

Figures released for the first quarter of the financial year show the postcode areas of Chester and Deeside (CH) and North Wales (LL) did not meet Royal Mail’s target for 91.5per cent of first class stamped and metered mail to be delivered the next day.

Consumer Focus Wales says that from April to June, North Wales achieved 89.2 per cent while neighbouring Chester and Deeside was marginally short of the target with a performance figure of 90.7per cent.

The overall national figure was also slightly below the target.

Royal Mail has said the volcanic ash cloud that drifted from Iceland across much of Europe in April affected first class mail transported throughout the UK by air.

Rebecca Thomas, Royal Mail expert at Consumer Focus Wales, said: “Consumers will be disappointed that, after missing its targets for first and second class deliveries in 2009-10, Royal Mail has failed to meet its first class mail target in the first quarter of 2010-11.

“We accept the volcanic ash cloud affected the proportion of mail that it carries by aeroplane, but Royal Mail will now have to perform exceptionally well for the rest of the year to hit its overall targets for 2010/11.

“We are currently discussing with Royal Mail what other factors contributed towards specific postcode areas missing their targets and what action they will be taking to improve overall quality of service.”

But Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami said he had been impressed by the contribution of the region’s postal workers.

He said: “I have not had any complaints about Royal Mail’s service yet and I know employees do an incredible job in very difficult circumstances, particularly during peak delivery times.

“I hope the new Government’s privatisation of Royal Mail will not have an adverse impact on deliveries.”

Tony Baxter, regional operations director for the Wales region, confirmed the disruption caused by the ash cloud had resulted in Royal Mail narrowly missing its national first class target.

But he said other quality measures, such as for second class mail, were achieved.

He added: “We are aware that some of our quality of service results in some postcode areas of Wales are below target.

“We are determined to improve on these figures and we are focusing our attention on achieving this task.”

Two of the other six postcode areas in Wales fell below the delivery targets.

Llandrindod Wells registered 83.3 per cent success, with Newport recording a figure of 89.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, a councillor has slammed proposals to privatise Royal Mail. Cllr Marc Jones, Plaid Cymru’s candidate for Wrexham, is worried plans will undermine a “vital community link”.

He believes communities would be first in the firing line if the Royal Mail was sold off.

Cllr Jones said: “The first thing the private sector will target is having a flat-rate cost for a letter. They will want to charge a premium for delivering up a rural drive or to an isolated village.”

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