UNION officials have today pledged to fight any threat to the future of the town’s main sorting office.

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The Royal Mail is currently undertaking a review of the Commercial Road sorting office in Ipswich. Similar reviews elsewhere in the country have usually led to the closure of the office and business being transferred to other sites.

However Nick Loube from the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) in Suffolk said his members were determined to fight any threat of closure.

They felt the situation in Ipswich was different to that in many other parts of the country because of the ownership of the sorting office.

He said: “The Royal Mail doesn’t own Commercial Road. It is owned by the borough and they lease it to the mail. Other sorting offices that have closed are on land they own and could sell at a big profit.

“They cannot do that in Ipswich. We are also fighting hard to protect hundreds of jobs.”

The Royal Mail employs 230 staff working in the sorting office itself, but Mr Loube said the total number of staff associated with the office was much higher than that. He said: “If you look at all the delivery staff and all the others who work from there, the figure is 500 or more. Their work will be disrupted if it is closed.

“And even if there is no sorting there, they will need to hang on to the building to distribute the mail through the postal delivery teams.”

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere was frustrated because attempts to discuss the proposed closure with Royal Mail had proved unsuccessful.

He said: “They signed a 125-year lease on that site in 1986, so it still has 99 years to go. We negotiated a lower rent with them in 2011, taking account of the economic situation, so they have very good terms.

“That means the cost of staying there is relatively low – but it would be expensive for them to end the lease.” However, he said the Royal Mail had not responded to the borough’s attempts to discuss the issue.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Mail said it could not comment on the situation or its contact with the borough because the consultation was currently under way.

n Should the sorting office close? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

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