CWU ‘Low Level Letterbox’ Campaign:

CWU ‘Low Level Letterbox’ Campaign:

This is an update for Postal Branches on the continuing work and campaigning being undertaken by the Health, Safety & Environment department on this important subject, further to LTBs 98/19 and 142/2019, as well as in response to enquiries received regarding new housing developments which have low level letter boxes fitted.

The Communication Workers Union, on behalf of postmen and women, has campaigned to stop low-level letter boxes being installed in new-build houses for many years.

In January 2019, following meetings and briefings in Westminster, Chelmsford MP Vicky Ford introduced a Private Members’ Bill in the UK Parliament, in support of the CWU campaign. The Bill, namely the ‘Low-Level Letter Boxes (Prohibition) Bill was heard before a full House of Commons on Wednesday 16 January 2019. The Bill was supported by all political parties and was unanimously accepted by the Government and MPs. Mrs. Ford subsequently withdrew the Bill, on the basis of an undertaking given by Government that they accepted the Bill’s intention and that it would be referred to the Building Regulations Advisory Committee who would include low-level letter boxes within their upcoming formal review of Building Regulations.

Following the first reading of the Bill, the Minister at the time Kit Malthouse MP was very supportive and committed the Government to prompt attention to the matter.

Since then however, progress has been painstakingly slow and of course the interruptions of ‘Brexit’ and the ‘Covid-19 Pandemic’ have indeed slowed that progress further.

See attached copy of the most recent letter received from the current Minister Lord Greenhalghfor your information. 

Although words of support from the Minister feature in the response to our ongoing representations, further in built delays in progressing the necessary Building Regulations changes are extremely disappointing.

Three years have gone by since MP Vicky Ford’s Bill was passed in the House of Commons with no material progress since then and now the present Minister Lord Greenhalgh, Minister of State for Building Safety, Fire and Communities, states that the ‘Low Level Letter Boxes’ issue is part of a research project, which will obviously add further to the delays!

That could mean another two years of delay – once the research project is completed, report considered, ministerial and Parliamentary scrutiny completed, regulatory amendments and sign off etc. That’s not good news for the CWU and our postal delivery worker members.

The Government’s target is for housing supply to reach 300,000 new homes built per year by the mid 2020’s.

With no ‘mandatory’ regulation controlling it in place, tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of those homes could potentially be built with low level letter boxes which cause so many problems for Royal Mail delivery workers.

On behalf of the CWU, the Health, Safety and Environment Department has had to challenge and fight each of these developments, brought to our attention on a piecemeal basis with representations to the local authorities, lobbying counsellors and local MPs, challenging developers and builders etc., hoping they’ll accept our case and change their plans. We have won a number of these battles to our great credit but it’s hard going at times and hard to keep pace with these home building developments which are sprouting up everywhere across the UK.

We’ve made it clear to the Minister again, that in the view of the CWU, there is no need for further research on this subject matter by the Ministry, as it has already been done by the EU in the past and this resulted in European Standard (EN13724) which sets a minimum height of 70cm for letter boxes (2 feet 3½ inches). There’s really no case for or good reason for further research to be repeated.

The current European Standard covering Private Letter Boxes sets out and specifies for ergonomic and safety reasons the height, positioning and design of letter boxes in order that the safe delivery of mail can be made by postal workers and others without the risk of injury.

EN 13724 ‘Postal Services – Apertures Of Private Letter Boxes And Letter Plates’ specifies the requirements and the test methods of the apertures for the delivery of letter post items when fitted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. It takes into account security, impregnability, safety, ergonomics and performance for the recipient, and safety, ergonomics and efficiency for postal delivery personnel. It allows the daily delivery in good condition of a great majority of post items.

As a matter of information, it’s been the law in the Republic of Ireland since 1 January 2001!

We are going to have to let the process run its course and participate in the consultation when it takes place – then live in hope that the delays in getting an end result by way of legislative amendment are not substantial, although past experience of Parliamentary processes tells us otherwise.

The Minister’s closing remarks and warm words that; “Postal workers’ safety in the review of building regulations is included as part of Government’s commitment in bringing about the biggest improvement in building and fire safety for a generation” – are of course welcomed – but the big question remains – when will we see the needed legislative changes?

At least we are making progress, all be it slowly. We will continue our campaigning and keep the pressure on Government at every opportunity. Branches will continue to be updated.

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

22LTB040 CWU ‘Low Level Letterbox’ Campaign

12290100

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