Union bosses fear that it is only a matter of time before the town’s postal sorting office shuts with the loss of 230 jobs.

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Royal Mail have announced that the future of the Commercial Road sorting office is under review – and that its future will become clear in May next year.

However a spokeswoman for the Communications Workers Union, which represents most of the staff at the sorting office, feared the worst.

She said: “In the past when there have been these reviews they have almost always resulted in a decision to close the office.

“Most recently in East Anglia we had a review of Cambridge sorting office and it has just been announced that is to close in 2014 and the work will be transfered to Peterborough.

“We will be talking to the Royal Mail about the situation in Ipswich, but we would not be too optimistic about the future of the sorting office.”

A spokeswoman for the Royal Mail said all options were being considered – and any changes would not affect the employment prospects of postal delivery workers.

She said: “They will continue to deliver the mail as at present. The jobs under review are the 230 people who are employed in the sorting office itself.”

Postal delivery staff would continue to collect sorted mail

Royal Mail issued a statement saying: “Today’s announcement begins a six month period of consultation by Royal Mail with its people and trade unions. As proposals are developed by Royal Mail, they will be shared with our colleagues who will be given every opportunity to provide input.

“The review is aimed at allowing us to deliver the most efficient, consistent and reliable service to Royal Mail customers and help secure long term employment and job security.

“There are 230 staff currently working at Ipswich mail centre.

“It is too early to say what the impact on these people will be as this depends on the outcome of the consultation with our unions and our people.

“Royal Mail’s aim is to minimise any job reductions. Our intention is to make changes without compulsory redundancies.

“By asking people to demonstrate reasonable flexibility, we expect to be able to find roles for everyone who wants to continue to work for Royal Mail.”

The Commercial Road sorting office opened in 1986 after the sorting office moved from its historic site on land that is now occupied by the Buttermarket shopping centre.

It occupies a major site on what is being developed as an important walking route from the town’s railway station to the Ipswich town centre.

Borough leader David Ellesmere said the council would be seeking meetings with Royal Mail managers and the unions involved to see if anything could be done to ensure the long term future of the sorting office.

He will be fighting the Ipswich seat for Labour at the next election, and added: “This is happening just as the Conservative led government is trying again to privatise the Royal Mail. I wonder if that is coincidence!”

Ipswich Conservative MP Ben Gummer said he would be following the progress of the consultation with interest.

He said: “To all intents and purposes Royal Mail is now a private sector commercial business, but I will be anxious to ensure that whatever happens as a result of the consultation, the postal service to my constituents – businesses and private addresses – is not damaged as a result of any changes.”

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