Rural postal collections could be axed
HUNDREDS of postal collections in rural East Anglia could be axed as the Royal Mail looks for more efficiency savings.Collections from some remote post boxes - where volume of mail is currently being monitored - could be cut from two to one a day.
By David Green
HUNDREDS of postal collections in rural East Anglia could be axed as the Royal Mail looks for more efficiency savings.
Collections from some remote post boxes - where volume of mail is currently being monitored - could be cut from two to one a day.
However, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said it did not believe there was a current threat to the existence of some collection boxes.
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Five years ago the Government introduced laws enabling other companies to compete with the Royal Mail which, ever since, has been trying to become more efficient and to cut costs.
It is understood that hundreds of rural post box collections have been axed as part of this process since 2000.
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However, union officials believe Royal Mail is now set for a further round of cutbacks.
John Colbert, eastern region secretary for the CWU, said: “Rural areas will face greater cuts than urban areas because of the relatively small volume of mail put into rural boxes.”
It was inevitable that some postal jobs would be lost, possibly through voluntary redundancy, he said.
However, Mr Colbert said there was an acceptance that Royal Mail had to face up to the reality of the competitive situation.
“Cuts in services and personnel are one of the pitfalls of liberalisation of the market,” he said.
Postal workers in the Diss area say a number of “final collections” from remote post boxes in both north Suffolk and south Norfolk are currently at risk.
“But for local CWU intervention the changes would have taken place from March 6,” said one worker, who asked not to be named.
“We feel this is rogue action on behalf of management but if they get away with it, then this will be rolled out nationally.”
Wil Gibson, chief executive of the Suffolk branch of Action With Communities in Rural England, said: “The Government is trying to turn the Royal Mail into a business and I think we have to accept there is a cost to rural delivery.
“At some time they have to balance out whether they believe rural communities are entitled to a good quality service. There's been lots of rhetoric but we haven't had any evidence that this is happening.”
Mr Gibson said country dwellers could be dispirited and lose faith in the future of their communities if there was any further loss of rural services.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “While specification in rural areas is to have one collection per day, in many parts of the region we have been undertaking two collections from boxes.
“However, monitoring has revealed that some boxes have as few as three letters a week posted in them. Clearly in these cases, extra collections do not match customer demand.
“As a result there have been some changes - and may be further ones - to collections where they are not needed.
“However, we have ensured that there is at least one local box per locality with a later collection for customers. All changes have been notified on boxes and all are well within specifications.”