A POST box containing hundreds of letters – including registration forms to vote in the independence referendum – has been missed by the Royal Mail for almost a month over the Festival.
Witnesses told how electoral roll documents were even left scattered on the pavement after the pillar box became jammed with undelivered mail because a removed seal on the posting slot had gone unnoticed for nearly four weeks.
Bosses at Royal Mail said the pillar box near the Hub on the Royal Mile was supposed to be sealed shut throughout the Festival season because traffic restrictions and huge crowds would hamper collections.
And they were shocked to find the box full with up to 800 letters inside when they arrived to reopen it on Friday morning.
It is thought someone tampered with the seal to remove it and posted a large volume of mail. Iain MacDonald, from Leith, was one of several city residents who used the post box during August to send off his form to vote in the independence referendum.
But the 28-year-old was shocked to find it falling out of the box when he arrived to post another letter a couple of days later – along with other voter registration forms.
“I posted a voter registration form in the post box and noticed that I didn’t hear the letter drop into the box,” he said. “I reached my hand in a wee bit further and could feel post stacked up inside.
“I returned every day and each time I’ve attempted to post a letter, other post has literally fallen out of the box on to the street – including the form I had posted just a few days before.”
Mr McDonald said he knew the voter form was his because of the handwriting on the envelope.
And he said other voter forms had also fallen out alongside his own.
He added: “On Thursday I couldn’t actually even get my hand in as a Jiffy envelope and postcard were protruding from the box. The post box was literally full to the brim.
“They normally empty it every day but I know sometimes service is interrupted because of the Festival – but it’s been available for use for the past couple of weeks.”
A Royal Mail spokeswoman stressed that the pillar box should have been blocked off from July 31. She said: “During Festival time in Edinburgh, Royal Mail needs to seal up some post boxes on the Royal Mile due to the limited access we have to the boxes.
“The box outside the Hub was securely sealed up but someone unknown has forced the seal off and posted a large mailing into the box, leaving it full. Royal Mail arrived on Friday morning to unseal the box and found the mail inside.”
She added: “We would advise customers to take large postings to our offices or a post office and not to tamper with post boxes which have been sealed.”
Councillor Joanna Mowat, who represents the city centre, called on the Royal Mail to publicise which post boxes would be out of circulation during the Festival.
“There should be a notice on the pillars to say why they are closed off and where alternative boxes can be found so that if the seal does get broken then people will know not to use them,” she said. “And maybe next year we are going to have to say they should check the post boxes regularly to make sure the seals are still in use.”
The Electoral Commission declined to comment on the incident.