Royal Mail has said it will no longer be making deliveries to four homes, with a reported population of 15, because the private access road isn’t in good shape and there is no mobile phone acccess in the area.
The 37 mile, one hour, round trip to the remote community of Altnabreac, Caithness has been judged to be too distant and unsafe for posties. The residents can opt to have post delivered to friends or relatives closer to Halkirk. Postal regulator Ofcom has said that the Royal Mail is not required to make a journey of more than 15 minutes on a private road.
A previous decision to suspend deliveries in 2014 was rescinded in 2014 after the residents protested but Royal Mail say that the roads in the area have recently deteriorated and it’s no longer safe.
A Royal Mail spokesman said: “Royal Mail has suspended deliveries to four addresses at KW12 at Halkirk and we are sorry for the inconvenience this causes customers. This step has been taken after a detailed assessment, as we believe that there is a risk of safety to our postmen and women who are delivering on private tracks off the public highway.”
“Our people are spending an hour round trip to deliver the mail. There is also no mobile phone signal to call for help if there is an issue and the condition of the track is poor. This step has been taken after a detailed assessment, as we believe that there is a risk of safety to our postmen and women who are delivering on private tracks off the public highway.”
Clearly it doesn’t pay to be hysterical here but there is an important principle at stake too: the universal service. That everyone, over the UK can get postal deliveries for the same price. It doesn’t matter if you’re sending a letter two streets in London or a parcel to the wilds of the Shetlands, it will cost the same. And it’s always a little disquieting when that marvellous principle is dented.