Feet stamped as letter box remains sealed off

A HAMPSTEAD postbox closed by Royal Mail to stop postmen from injuring themselves should be reopened immediately, residents believe.

The postbox, on the front of the post office in Hampstead High Street, was closed in May last year for “health and safety reasons”.

Several postmen had allegedly complained of suffering bad backs after emptying the mailbox, which is positioned at street level.

Ten months later, residents have reached the end of their tether.

They are fed up with having to queue inside the post office to send a letter and of not being able to catch the last post of the day – at 6.30pm – because the post office closes its doors at 5.30pm.

They say the postbox should be elevated to a sensible height and reopened.

Peter Gorb, of Redington Road, said it was ludicrous that residents didn’t have anywhere to post letters outside of the post office’s opening hours.

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“They closed the postbox to stop postmen from getting a bad back,” he said. “It’s very silly, absolutely daft, because now we don’t have anywhere to post our letters when the post office is shut. A postbox is a basic facility and we should have one in Hampstead High Street.”

Lee Montague, who lives off Keats Grove, said: “Why can’t they just put the postbox higher up? It doesn’t make any sense and, for elderly people or those who are less athletic, it’s a real problem.

“There’s no longer a post office in South End Green so the Hampstead post office should definitely have a letter box.”

Hampstead councillor Linda Chung said: “There are all sorts of ways to get round health and safety but they are refusing to do that. Royal Mail should adapt the postbox so that the postmen don’t have to bend down. It’s a service that should exist here but doesn’t. If they don’t want to adapt it they should put a postbox in the street.”

Her ward colleague, Conservative councillor Chris Knight, said he thought he could solve the problem himself.

He said: “I’m a metal fabricating engineer and I’m sure I could resolve this problem. I’m fed up with the postbox being closed. The last post is at 6.30pm but the post office closes at 5.30pm, a real problem for small businesses and anyone wanting to catch the last post.” Cllr Knight said he was writing to Royal Mail with his suggestion.

Another possible solution would be restoring the 1870s Penfold hexagonal postbox situated across the street, but Royal Mail says it donated the box to Camden Council for purely decorative purposes.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “We want to resume collections from outside the post office in Hampstead as soon as possible but have so far been refused planning permission to install a new postbox a few yards away on the footpath.

“We will continue to work for a solution and we are very sorry about the inconvenience to our customers.”