ROYAL Mail has told a village it will get its afternoon collection back when a new postbox is installed.

Calstock has been without an afternoon or priority collection of letters since the post box in Fore Street was removed without warning in September. The company said that the box was dangerous – and has pledged to install a new one near to the village hall.

In the meantime though, the parish council in Calstock continues to have concerns about the impact of the loss of service on local people and businesses.

A spokesperson for Royal Mail said: “Upon inspection, the postbox on Fore Street in Calstock was found to be beyond repair, and so had to be taken out of service. We will be installing a replacement postbox at a different location in Calstock, with collections at 4pm on weekdays and 10.45am on Saturdays, as was the case with the previous box.”

But parish councillor Alastair Tinto said: “It’s good to see that when our post box is finally restored there will be afternoon collections as before. So there should be. However, it has now been nearly six months since the Fore Street box was removed and there is no sign of a replacement, despite the fact that we were told one would be in place within 25 weeks. The land Royal Mail claim they are going to put the new post box on is owned by the Parish Council who have had no request for permission so far to do that.

“Royal Mail’s reassurances avoid the nub of our complaint which is that they are refusing to designate one of the other post boxes in the village for afternoon collections, in the meantime offering us Cotehele instead. I keep getting complaints that losing the afternoon collection is disadvantaging people in Calstock. What is the problem with giving us an afternoon collection now?”

Royal Mail has strenuously denied statements by staff and the Communication Workers Union that indicate the company as a whole is moving away from collections in order to focus on parcels.

Conversations on a national Royal Mail staff chat group describe how the company is looking to move to one morning collection a day from boxes. One worker said: “He (referring to CEO Simon Thompson) is wanting parcels to be collected up til midnight for next day delivery.

But all postboxes are going to be one day collection at 9am and 7.30am Saturday.

He is clearly not interested in letters.”

A union source told The Cornish Times: “We are facing fundamental attacks on the collection services we offer. Be that from businesses, post boxes, post offices or homes. We are very worried that Royal Mail are running this service down and ultimately looking to exit the collections market completely.”

But Royal Mail says that as a company it is committed to retaining its ‘six days a week’ collection from every single postbox across the country, and says that the UK has one of the highest numbers and densities of postboxes in Europe.

A spokesperson said: “There is no nationwide plan to end afternoon collections from postboxes. Any changes to collection times from an individual postbox are made on a case-by-case basis, in line with changing patterns of customer usage. We maintain a network of more than 115,000 postboxes, and 98.3% of all UK addresses are within half a mile of one.”

Royal Mail has been in a long-running industrial dispute with the Communications Workers Union (CWU) over pay and changes to terms and conditions.

A new series of talks were due to conclude at the start of this week as The Cornish Times went to press.

The recent negotiations have focused on issues such as the pay and changes required to secure the future of Royal Mail Group, the most constructive way for the company and the union to work together in local revision (changes to working patterns) activity, and an appropriate independent process for reviewing the treatment of employees and trade union representatives during issues arising out of the dispute.

The union has been criticised for what some see as capitulating to Royal Mail Group by agreeing retrospectively to changes that have already been brought in by managers without having been negotiated through the union (known as executive action).

Some 150 or more workers, a large number of whom are union reps, have been suspended by Royal Mail for issues arising during the dispute, according to the CWU, and now await to see what the independent review brings.

Leader of the CWU Dave Ward said that the union had agreed to deploy the current phase of revisions by the end of March in order to assist the financial situation of the company.

“We do expect our managers to start treating workers everywhere better now,” said Mr Ward, “and we do expect our reps to be able to re-engage in revisions, to see if we can reach local agreements.”