Why have our postboxes been removed?

THE sudden removal of two pillar boxes outside the old post office in Westbury on Trym has angered residents.

So far, efforts by the Westbury on Trym Society, local councillors,  MP Darren Jones and the Voice to find out why the postboxes were taken away and whether they will be replaced have drawn a blank. It means local people are left without a box that has a late postal collection.  

RESIDENTS are furious that the two red pillar boxes that have served Westbury on Trym for decades have been removed without warning.

The postboxes were taken from the forecourt of the old post office in the centre of the village last month.

Their removal, which was unexpected by everyone including the operators of the current post office in a shop in Canford Lane, leaves Westbury without a late postal collection. 

It is not yet known whether, or where, a replacement postbox will be provided.

Local councillors Steve Smith, Geoff Gollop and Sharon Scott and MP Darren Jones have all approached  Royal Mail for an explanation. The Voice contacted Royal Mail’s press office for a comment but did not get a response.

Hilary Long, chairman of the Westbury Society (WoTSoc), said the society had protested strongly on behalf of the village.

“No one thought to give any pre-warning or advice that these two much used main post boxes were to be removed permanently,” she said. “Residents had no idea until they saw they had gone on April 6th, nor had the hardworking staff of our now small post office in Canford Lane been informed ahead of their removal. They were just given bags and told to expect a heavy delivery of letters from frustrated residents.

“It seems that high handed action and contempt for both the public and managers of the post offices is the way the postal authorities conduct their affairs. In light of the present national scandal over wrongful convictions of Post Office managers, you would hope that their actions would be to ameliorate inconvenience not perpetrate it.”

WoT=Soc member Jill Kempshall received a response from the Royal Mail that indicated there was no guarantee that the boxes would be restored quickly or even at all. She was told that there must be a postbox within half a mile of 98 per cent of homes, but that a replacement could only be provided with consent of the local planning authority after a suitable site had been verified and underground services researched first.

The former Westbury post office closed a couple of years ago and the building is now rented for use as a gym. Adam Turpin, who runs Crossfit Trym, has explained via social media that the removal of the boxes, which were considered by many to be an important part of the street scene in the conservation area, is nothing to do with his business.  Councillors are now trying to identify and contact the owner of the building to find out why they’ve been removed.

According to information on the Royal Mail website: “From time to time, it may become necessary to remove or relocate a postbox. We don’t remove boxes due to under-utilisation. There are, however, various reasons why we might have to take a box out of service:

“When a box needs to be taken out of service, either temporarily sealed or permanently removed, a notice will be displayed to tell customers why and give details of the nearest three alternative posting facilities.

“Where it is possible to do so, we will provide a four week notification to consumers when we plan to remove or relocate a box. However, sometimes a four week period is not possible because a significant proportion of removals and relocations are due to events outside of our control – such as when a box is damaged or stolen.”