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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

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Post plan good for Cumbria's rural areas

Rural communities in Cumbria have welcomed new plans to protect public access to post boxes.

Under postal regulator Ofcom’s proposals, access to Royal Mail’s 115,500 post boxes will be protected with a requirement that 98 per cent of all households across the UK should be within half a mile of a post box.

Royal Mail agrees with Ofcom that the current measure, which covers less than half of all postcode areas in the UK and only 15 per cent of its geographical area, is not fit for purpose.

Muir Lachlan, chairman of Ennerdale and Kinniside parish council, believes the move is very important to remote communities across Cumbria.

He said: “We have lost an awful lot in the community, including post offices, and a few years ago there was a threat to our phone boxes.

“Areas like ours and many others in the Lakelands have suffered due to poor mobile phone connection which is a lifeline, particularly when people are out walking on the mountains, so we are very much in favour of protection from further cuts.”

Debbie Stafford, deputy mayor of Wigton town council, said: “Post boxes are an invaluable part of communication in rural areas. Not everybody has a car, particularly the elderly and disabled, so for them nearby post boxes are essential.”

Royal Mail says it already complies with the criteria and insists most people are very satisfied with post box provision.

Stephen Agar, Royal Mail consumer and network access managing director, said: “Nine out of 10 customers consider Royal Mail a core part of the community – particularly in rural areas, where we are part of the lifeblood of day to day communication.

“Easy access to post boxes is an important part of this. The number of post boxes in the UK – in both rural and urban areas – has remained stable for the past decade.

“We are proud that, with our extensive network of over 115,000 post boxes, the UK has the highest level of post box provision per square kilometre of any Western European nation.

“Amongst the 19 countries measured by the Universal Postal Union, only Japan has a higher geographic density.”

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