Royal Mail suspends deliveries to remote Scottish community amid 'health and safety' claims

The Royal Mail says staff face hour-long trips to deliver the mail.
The Royal Mail says staff face hour-long trips to deliver the mail.
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Householders in a remote Highlands postcode are no longer able to receive mail after the Royal Mail deemed it to difficult to get to for its post workers.

Four homes in the remote community of Altnabreac, Caithness had their mail deliveries suspended last Friday, after mail bosses said staff were faced with an hour-long trip to deliver letters and packages. The postal service warned that a lack of mobile phone signal meant their delivery drivers were at risk if they needed to "call for help".

Residents of the historic area, which is home to Scotland's most remote rail station, are now travelling a 37 mile round trip to Halkirk to pick up their letters and parcels. The Royal Mail has told them they can nominate a relative or friend living on the main road to collect their post, but said none of the affected households had yet done so.

This is the second time that postal services have been withdrawn from Altnabreac, with postal deliveries restored after a similar decision in 2014 was appealed by residents.

Ofcom regulations state that delivery staff should not spend more than 15 minutes in a single trip on private roads to deliver mail. A spokeswoman for the Royal Mail said that the condition of the 10 mile track to the houses had deteriorated in recent months.

She 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."

She added: "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."

Residents are believed to be planning to launch another appeal against the Royal Mail's decision. It is thought that the measure will affect around 15 people living in the postcode.

The spokeswoman added: "Royal Mail wants to work with the customers to find a safe and sensible solution to this suspension."

Any other buildings or holiday premises in the same postcode, apart from the four properties do not receive a mail delivery.

Until 2009, a Royal Mail Postbus, which carried mail and passengers, served the remote Altnabreac community.

Campaigners in Caithness and Sutherland have previously called for their postcode to be changed amid fears that they are hit with higher delivery charges because the region comes under a postcode in Kirkwall, on the island of Orkney.