Post Box Painting type and schedule

John Gow made this Freedom of Information request to Royal Mail Group Limited
This authority is not subject to FOI law, so is not legally obliged to respond (details).
This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Under the freedom of information act, could you please try and provide me with the following information.

1) - The exact paint, including the spec number, used to maintain Royal Mail post boxes throughout the UK including both red and black. I believe there are regional variations of suppliers and manufacturers.

2) - Is there a painting / maintenance schedule for each post box, and if so, can you supply a national database of records of maintenance to each UK post box? I believe the schedule is approximately every three years. Are records kept for post box repairs?

3) - Your policy of gilding Royal Insignia on post boxes. I believe this is forbidden by Romec employees, but should a member of the public paint the Royal Cipher on a post box gold, do you view this as an act of vandalism, despite the fact it enhances the aesthetic appearance of a post box?

Any information would be kindly appreciated

Yours faithfully,

John Gow

Royal Mail Group Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Gow

Thank you for your request for information received on 10/06/2009, which
we are considering under the Freedom of Information Act. Under the Act
you should expect a reply from us to be sent by 08/07/2009, which is
twenty working days from receipt of your request.

If for any reason we are unable to provide you with a full response within
that time, we will contact you explaining the reasons for this and giving
a revised date by which we will reply.

If in the mean time you have any questions or would like to contact us
about your request, please contact us by telephone 01252 806513 or
alternatively email or write to us at the address below. Please be
assured that we are giving this our attention and will get back to you
shortly.

Yours sincerely

John Cere
[1][Royal Mail Group request email]
Freedom of Information Unit
PO Box 341, ALDERSHOT, GU11 1WW

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in
England and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 148 Old Street, LONDON
EC1V 9HQ

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1. mailto:[Royal Mail Group request email]

Royal Mail Group Limited

Dear Mr Gow

I am writing in response to your email dated 10 June 2009 regarding Royal
Mail Postboxes. You requested the following information under the terms of
the Freedom of Information Act:

1. “The exact paint, including the spec number, used to maintain Royal Mail
post boxes throughout the UK including both red and black. I believe there
are regional variations of suppliers and Manufacturers.”

2. “Is there a painting / maintenance schedule for each post box, and if
so, can you supply a national database of records of maintenance to each UK
post box? I believe the schedule is approximately every three years. Are
records kept for post box repairs?”

3) “Your policy of gilding Royal Insignia on post boxes. I believe this is
forbidden by Romec employees, but should a member of the public paint the
Royal Cipher on a post box gold, do you view this as an act of vandalism,
despite the fact it enhances the aesthetic appearance of a post box?”

Royal Mail has a joint policy with English Heritage regarding Postboxes
which can be viewed online:
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/uploa...

You will see from the policy statement that all Postboxes are painted every
three years using lead-free paint to the correct specification (Royal Mail
red, colour ref no. 538 BS381C and Black, colour ref no. 00E 53, BS4800).
Romec Ltd is responsible for the re-painting of Postboxes and all Postboxes
are painted once every 3 years. The routine maintenance and cleaning of
postboxes also forms part of Royal Mail Group Ltd's contract with Romec
Ltd. Royal Mail employees report any incidents of damage or graffiti which
require urgent cleaning or maintenance by Romec.

We do not hold a national schedule of painting and maintenance for each
postbox, records are held at a local level throughout the UK. To compile
records of all painting and maintenance for every Postbox would
significantly exceed the appropriate cost limit set out under section 12 of
the Freedom of Information Act. The appropriate limit for Royal Mail Group
is set at £450. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending
18 hours in determining whether we hold the information, and in locating,
retrieving and extracting the information. Consequently, Royal Mail Group
is not obliged by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to respond to this
particular request (see section 12(1) of the Act. It may be possible to
retrieve information within the cost limit if you are able to narrow your
request. For example, if you are interested in the maintenance of a
specific postbox. Any reformulated request we receive from you will need
to be treated as a fresh FOI request.

Finally, in relation to the gilding of Royal Insignia on post boxes - you
will see from the agreement with English Heritage, that the highlighting of
specific features on letter boxes, such as the Royal cypher and crown in
gold, is not normally allowed other than in exceptional circumstances on
some pillar boxes where there is historic justification. Lettering enamel
is used and covered with a varnish to minimise weathering. The use of gold
paint is not permitted. Royal Mail will prosecute any person apprehended
defacing, vandalising or otherwise damaging a letter box.

I am sorry your request cannot be met in full but hope the information
provided is of use to you. If you are dissatisfied with this response for
any reason you do have a right to request an internal review, in which case
please write to the Head of Information Compliance, Royal Mail Group,
Company Secretary's Office, 100 Victoria Embankment, LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ. An
internal panel will then review the decision, and you will be advised of
the outcome.

If, having requested an internal review by Royal Mail, you are still not
satisfied with our response you also have a right of appeal to the
Information Commissioner at:
Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 700
www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Colin Young
Freedom of Information Manager
[Royal Mail Group request email]

show quoted sections

Dear Sir or Madam,

Thanks for your reply. It has been of use and most interesting. I may make seperate requests for indivudual boxes or a small group of boxes that interest me. I appreciate the request was not practical, asking for such number of boxes is just not possible, but thanks for responding promptly to my requests.

Yours faithfully,

John Gow

Darren left an annotation ()

Well done you...I have been trying to request a fresh paint job for a postbox in Camden Town ouside a house im painting it has not been done for at least 10 YRS.I will photo it and put it on my timeline....perhaps now they are goin PUBLIC they might afford it painted....Romec shall be called today also...
D . Fitzpatrick B.Sc.

Russell Hall left an annotation ()

Haha! I live in Camden and found this thread whilst investigating the matter. I want to complain about the state of dozens of the post boxes in this area; in disgraceful state. I will complain to Romec also. There's no way these have been painted within three years! I complained to Royal Mail six months ago and nothing happened. Didn't even get a reply to my complaint emails through the online forms.

John Gow left an annotation ()

Russel. Romec use the list of boxes from the Final Plate database. Occasionally, some boxes are omitted in error from the FP database but still appear on the CMD lists. These boxes therefore can go for years without any maintenance. I have heard that as part of a long term management plan, they will be cutting boxes back and doing a better job which should last 5yrs. However, if there are a large number of boxes in one area that have not been done, well there's obviously as problem somewhere. Keeping hounding them, but a lot trickier now that it's in private hands!

Jerry left an annotation ()

I just repainted our rural box bright red. It was green with mould and hadn't been repainted in the 6 years we've lived here. I just bought some gold paint and if it ever stops raining I think I'll paint the cypher in gold.

John Gow left an annotation ()

Good for you Jerry. I guess it's the reasons as mentioned above. Unfortunately royal mail look at the gilding of ciphers as vandalism, however, as they are not painting it and you are taking pride of your local box they really can't say anything.

Jerry left an annotation ()

Thanks John,
Apart from a few neighbours who saw me, no one has mentioned it yet. I'm waiting for our postman to notice it. Honestly, a green mailbox? It was encrusted in mould. I'll let you know if anything happens . . .

Jerry

David left an annotation ()

I came across cards displayed in error at my local sorting office intended for Royal Mail staff with the following email address - postbox.appearance@royalmail.com.
The information required was Postbox No. , Location and Nature of the Problem i.e. graffiti, defect etc.
To their credit Royal Mail provided an informed reply to my email within 48hrs and my local box was repaired and painted within 8 weeks.

John Gow left an annotation ()

Thanks David. Yes I know about those cards, they're a good few years old now. Great to hear they painted the box in a timely manner

Kelpiekeeper left an annotation ()

Hello ,I have adopted the planters at the corner of my street but since tidying them up all the locals keep pointing out to me the state of the pillarbox and telephone box . Yes I've got both to try and find a solution for . Ive lived here for 15 years and can't recall either of them being painted ,we are right at the seaside and they are rusting badly . Do that same company cover Scotland do you know ?
I'm tempted to just do it myself , I've noticed every DIY shop has gloss paint in pillarbox red ,maybe that's why .
I feel it's a bit of a small matter to be getting annoyed about but they are both British icons and are much photographed by Japanese tourists , it seems a shame that no one cares for them now .
Gill

Jerry left an annotation ()

I painted our local box last year. The neighbours noticed, and approved, but the Royal Mail never said anything. They must have noticed; the box was green with mould!

Jerry left an annotation ()

Two years later, the box was looking bad again, so I ordered some official "pillar box red" paint on the Internet. I painted the box again and it looks really good. The postman had to have noticed but he hasn't said anything to me. To anyone out there who wonders if they should do it, I say 'if you want something done, do it yourself'.

P Zoeftig left an annotation ()

I moved into a charming village in the North last November and there is a infrequently-used Royal Mail letterbox in the wall of my house; according to some neighbours it has not been painted for up to ten years and it is unclear to me whether this was last done by the Royal Mail or by people in the village.
Nothing had been done despite its location being opposite the village councillor's house, and it was in a deplorable state, the paint (in several layers) peeling off and the top coat a kind of pale purple, the inlay card damaged and the plastic over it, snapped to force it into position. The lettering V R and crown at the top were barely distinct being caked in old paint and the manufacturer's name at the bottom completely illegible..
I contacted English Heritage in York (they had no information and no contact numbers for the Royal Mail besides those on the Royal Mail website) as well as the Conservation Dept in Harrogate Council, and did a bit of digging myself.
I found the direct phone line for the RM property office, street furniture officer (in Bletchley) and had a cordial chat with the person there. I won't mention his name just now. He told me that normally if ever his department is informed of this they will send out a painter (Romec I think) to simply paint over whatever he finds and to take a picture for it then to be established if more work can be done on it, that is, if the Box has historic significance or would benefit in some other way. He said that this process can take a very long time . As the one in my wall is a V R box and therefore quite old. I explained that I felt it deserved better attention, and offered to remove the paint down to the metal so that it could be painted and made to look nice again, and I did that; and sent him photos of what I had achieved; three days later a Romec painter turned up, did not more rubbing or smoothing (I had planned to apply a bit of paint remover to the last crumbs to get it completely smooth but had not had the chance) and he put on a single coat and lacquered it; the paint was not particularly even, I had to touch it up in few spots as the metal was showing.
I have got back in contact with the officer in Bletchley to ask if I can paint the Crown and lettering in gold paint and am awaiting a reply. One interesting point is that he mentioned the existing paint is all lead-based and felt he should warn me from a Health and Safety point of view which was fait enough, I used a metal bit and also chisel and made sure I was well covered and protected.
It looks a lot better now but I feel that improves coordination and communication could assist people wanting to conserve and protect these beautiful objects where this has not been done suitably; I am happy to apply the gold paint and can do this skilfully, for example. I was shocked that both English Heritage and the local conservation dept seemed to have little clue about things.
Everyone in the village passing by has thanked me (my neighbours opposite said I must have read their minds as they were thinking of attempting it too after seeing someone in another village just setting about doing the job themselves also) and I have had lots of support - apart from with the village counsellor who took it upon himself to bang at my door in a belligerent rage demanding to know what I was doing and telling me not to "tamper with" RM property and refusing to listen to my attempted explanation - even though I had already told him days before what my plan was. Some people are just unpleasant.
Another point was that on chipping away the 100-year old paint, I noticed that the lettering and Crown were definitely painted white and not gold, not sure if this was the normal thing at the time?

P Zoeftig left an annotation ()

* Village Councillor (not counsellor!!)