A Royal Mail commissioned study of the UK gives a “fascinating insight” into life in UK communities - so fascinating that it has Coldstream in Northumberland. Who knew?
And to add insult to what some may see as injury, as far as VisitScotland is concerned Coldstream isn’t even worth marking on a map.
Even before the Scottish independence referendum it would seem that Coldstream, lying as it does right on the England/Scotland border, has officials stumped as to where it is - to the Royal Mail it’s in England, to VisitScotland its akin to Brigadoon.
Royal Mail’s study into life in the UK was to celebrate 40 years of a nationwide postcode. And ironically it’s because of Coldstream’s postcode that the confusion about whether it’s in England or Scotland has arisen. The TD12 post code has Coldstream as its centre but 16 of its 23 areas are over the border in England, the remaining seven firmly rooted in Scotland.
“Residents of Coldstream will be shocked and dismayed to learn that the Royal Mail considers Coldstream to be part of Northumberland,” said Martin Brims, chairman of Coldstream & District Community Council.
“Not least because as a community we, quite rightly in my opinion, pride ourselves on being the first and only sizeable settlement that sits directly on the Scottish side of the border. Without exception “The First True Border Toun”.
“If I was to be generous I could almost forgive the Royal Mail for this error given that a large part of the TD12 postcode lies in Northumberland. But sadly, the Royal Mail are not alone in misquoting where Coldstream lies.
“Furthermore there are those organisations who completely miss our town’s location from maps and guides. Visit Scotland are but one organisation who have undermined our Gateway Town status by excluding us from some tourist literature. The message to all these bodies is simple: You must do better! It may not matter to faceless organisations, but it matters to us!”
Steve Rooney, head of Royal Mail’s Address Management Unit, said: “The invention of the postcode revolutionised the way post is sorted and delivered. As it has evolved, the postcodes have also revolutionised the way companies do business.
“The postcode is now commonly used by people in their everyday activities, whether ordering an item online or planning a route on a SatNav system.”
Coldstream’s crime rate is the lowest in the country, but which country? According to Royal Mail “People living in the TD12 postcode sector in Coldstream, Northumberland, have the lowest rate of crime in England.”?
And apparently Coldstream’s average personal debt of £1200 is only second to that of people in London (£1500). That’s Coldstream, Northumberland of course.
But maybe being in the wrong country is better than not being on the map at all.
For some years Coldstream residents, and in particular those in the tourism industry, have been aggrieved that Coldstream does not appear on VisitScotland’s interactive map of the Scottish Borders. It identifies smaller settlements such Swinton, Houndslow, Longformacus, and even Wark in Northumberland but Coldstream - one of the main crossings between England and Scotland - doesn’t warrant a mention.
Ironically the VisitScotland web site acknowledges Coldstream’s important role as a crossing point in its information about the town: “The settlement of Coldstream lies at an important crossing on the River Tweed, the lowest point it can be forded.”
But not important enough to be marked on their map?