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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Villagers set to call postcode poll
Tidenham Parish Church
The parish of Tidenham has about 5,000 residents
Residents of an English village close to the border with Wales could hold a referendum in their battle to change their Welsh postcode to an English one.

Tidenham lies on the English side of the River Wye in Gloucestershire, but has a Welsh postcode because the nearest major town is Chepstow.

We've been arguing with the Post Office for two or three years now

Lance Allan, Tidenham Parish Council

As a result, villagers have been receiving bilingual utility bills, Welsh driving licences, and information about Welsh elections - all in both English and Welsh.

A Royal Mail representative is due to address a public meeting in Tidenham on Thursday, but the company warned that it could not change the village's postcode.

Lance Allan, chairman of Tidenham Parish Council, said the long-running problem has become worse since the Welsh Assembly was created.

It resulted in a stream of letters and information about elections in which they had no vote.

Increasing irritation

Mr Allan said: "We've been arguing with the Post Office for two or three years now.

"But they basically say that's the way they deliver the mail.

Map showing Tidenham on the border of Wales and England

"They set the postcode based on that, and if other people want to use it for other reasons, that's the other people's problem.

He added: "They're becoming much more of a commercial organisation.

"They are obviously not making much money at the moment, and obviously don't want to change something that'll cost them money."

The presentation by Consignia to villagers on Thursday is due to be followed by a parish meeting on the issue.

Postcode poll

It could decide to call a referendum on whether to ask Consignia to change the village's postal address from Monmouthshire to Gloucestershire.

Mr Allan expects the necessary ten people will come forward to request such a poll.

Postal sorter
Consignia says the postcode helps efficient sorting

If so, there will be a vote on Thursday 2 May, the day of local council elections in England.

But the exercise will cost the parish council 1,500.

Residents of Tidenham have denied that they are motivated by any anti-Welsh feeling.

They say they simply want official recognition of their English status.

Forest of Dean MP Diana Organ raised the issue in a parliamentary debate in March 2000.

She claimed it had resulted in postal delays as people could not believe that mail intended for a Gloucestershire village was sorted in Wales.

Royal Mail has insisted that postcodes are designed to help process mail as efficiently as possible, and were not intended as a geographical reference.

Operations manager Martin Dale said they could not change Tidenham's postcode, but would help promote the fact that the village was in England rather than Wales.

He said: "It is the use of postcodes by these third parties which has caused concern for some local residents.

"Royal Mail has no direct control over this usage and cannot accept responsibility for problems associated with it.

"However, Royal Mail has in this instance, as a gesture of goodwill, been in contact with some of the third party organisations to open discussions with a view to helping them update their postcode databases to recognise Welsh/English borders."

Lance Allan, Tidenham Parish Council
"It's caused a number of problems over the years"

Click here to go to BBC Gloucestershire
See also:

14 Feb 02 | England
Border battle over Welsh postcode
31 Jan 02 | Business
Competition shake-up for post
31 Jan 02 | Scotland
Rural fears over post plans
31 Oct 01 | England
Lottery 'bist a butty' to dialect
01 Dec 00 | Business
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