Royal Mail accused of "health and safety madness" over Hampstead letterbox closure

A MAIL box at Hampstead post office has been closed because postmen bending down to collect the mail might injure themselves. Hampstead residents were bemused this week to read a notice saying their High Street postbox was now off limits for health and sa

A MAIL box at Hampstead post office has been closed because postmen bending down to collect the mail might injure themselves.

Hampstead residents were bemused this week to read a notice saying their High Street postbox was now off limits for health and safety reasons.

One worker said several staff reported bad backs after emptying the mail at street level and one postman was off sick for four months.

Customers have been left to find other ways of posting their letters, among them Ham&High cartoonist Ken Pyne who said: ''They should care more for the health and safety of customers who are in danger of starving to death or dying of old age because of the queues in Hampstead post office, which have been massively long ever since they shut the post offices in Belsize Park and South End Green."


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But a post office worker defended the decision to seal off the box, saying: "It is almost ankle height to the ground, but it is supposed to be knee height so that when you empty it, you don't have to kneel. It is such a deep box you can fill three bags, of post which could take up to five minutes to do. Obviously if you have been down that low for that long a time, it is going to hurt your back."

But Hampstead councillor Chris Knight said the move was over the top.

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"It is ridiculous, utterly stupid," he said. "It has been there for so long - why would you suddenly need to change it for heath and safety reasons? The world has gone mad. What on earth are people thinking about. We are in the middle of a recession with cuts all over the place and here they are, sealing up a letter box."

A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: "We would like to apologise to any customers affected by the closure of this post box."

Informal talks are being held to try and resolve the situation by installing a new traditional pillar box outside the post office, the spokesman added.

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