Mystery over future of mail

MYSTERY today surrounds the future of the mail service in Ipswich.Posties in the town have been asked to draw up lists of homes which receive more than ten items of mail a day, in a move which is seen as paving the way for the restructuring of the mail service.

MYSTERY today surrounds the future of the mail service in Ipswich.

Posties in the town have been asked to draw up lists of homes which receive more than ten items of mail a day, in a move which is seen as paving the way for the restructuring of the mail service.

However bosses at Consignia, which owns the Royal Mail, denied that Ipswich was an area where a new system of mail delivery would be trialled.

Consignia is planning to take drastic action in an attempt to staunch mounting losses at the Royal Mail.

It is trialling a new method of delivery in 14 towns across the country.

This will see urgent and business mail delivered at the current time, but non-urgent domestic mail will be received any time between 9am and 1pm.

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However Consignia denied that mail in Ipswich would be affected by the trial.

The 14 areas are: Crawley, Bow, part of Edinburgh, Sheringham, East Manchester, Newbury, Newhaven, Loughborough, Halifax, Plymouth, Ballymena, Thirsk, St Helen's and Llanelli.

The Evening Star has been contacted by postal staff who have been told to monitor the amount of mail they deliver to homes in the town.

"They've been told that homes which get more than 10 items of mail a day will be classed as business and get mail between 7am and 9am, and those which don't will get their post between 9am and 1pm.

"If people want an earlier delivery they will have to pay a fee of between £2,000 and £2,500 a year."

Consignia said they conducted regular surveys to monitor the amount of post delivered, but there were no immediate plans to introduce the two-tier system in the Ipswich postal area.

"Our experiment is restricted to those 14 areas, and it will be evaluated before it is extended to anywhere else in the country," said the spokesman.

The news came as postal workers announced re to stage a national strike next month unless a dispute over deliveries is resolved, their union announced today.

The threatened 24-hour walkout on May 8 would be the first nationwide stoppage since 1996 and would cause a fresh crisis for postal group Consignia.

Talks aimed at averting the strike were expected to be held today between officials from the Communication Workers Union and Consignia.

The union's deputy general secretary John Keggie said delivery staff were being asked to agree "massive changes" in working conditions which would leave postmen and women working for more than four hours without a break.

"The business want us to sign up to changes that could worsen the postal service for the public. We are not prepared to be bludgeoned into accepting its half-developed plans.'

The dispute is holding up long-running negotiations over pay, which led to an offer of a 6.9pc increase.

The union said 2.2pc of the offer covered agreement on longer delivery spans, but it argued that this element should be separated from any pay rise.

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