Kentish Town mail depot saved in closure plans U-turn

Published: July 28, 2011
by DAN CARRIER

THE Royal Mail has confirmed it will perform a shock U-turn and abandon proposals to axe a Camden sorting and delivery office.

It comes after officials announced that the Regis Road depot in Kentish Town would close in October – putting jobs at risk and prompting fears among customers and businesses in NW5 of a reduced service and later deliveries.

But this week the New Journal learned through sources at the depot that managers were quietly shelving the controversial plans.

Announced earlier this year, the changes would have seen the staff moved to the depot behind Euston Station in a cost-cutting exercise.

Communications Workers Union representative Pat Carey, who is based at the branch, said they had been overwhelmed by the support of customers opposing the closure. A petition garnered over 3,000 names in just two weeks – showing a real feeling of anger over the plans.

Mr Carey said: “People  value our service and the support we have received in the last month from customers has been incredible.”

But he warned: “The battle has been won but the war continues. They have said they will look at it again in 2015 and we’ll have to argue the case again then. It is common sense to keep the depot here and they’ve realised that now.

“Royal Mail looked at the plans in more detail and realised it was not cost-effective to move us. It would lead to a worse service for our customers in the area and they would have to buy a new fleet of vans to bring post to NW5 from Euston, whereas at the moment we use trolleys.”

Holborn and St Pancras Labour MP Frank Dobson had attacked the scheme, insisting it would mean long journeys for older people and less mobile residents to collect signed-for letters and parcels. He said that Royal Mail had failed to take such issues into account when they had announced the sudden closure.

Rumours over the reasons for U-turn include fears over health and safety. One source told the New Journal the Euston depot simply could not accommodate an extra  40-plus workers.

A statement from Royal Mail said they had shelved the plans after discovering the Euston depot did not have enough space for the extra vans needed  and that Regis Road would remain open until 2015.

A spokesman said: “We can confirm that Kentish Town delivery office will remain in its current location while we undertake further detailed planning for parking for our vehicles.”

But the spokesman warned that due to falling revenue, the site ultimately faces closure, adding: “Royal Mail is undergoing one of the largest modernisation programmes ever undertaken in the UK to improve its efficiency in a market where mail volumes are falling significantly. It means some current sites will no longer be required.

Royal Mail aims to realise the maximum value from property it no longer needs for its operations and invest the proceeds elsewhere in its letters and parcels business.”

The Euston depot is also facing an uncertain  future as the government’s plans to build the HS2 rail link would see it affected as the station is redeveloped.

The Royal Mail have said they would not comment on whether this was a factor in the change of heart.