With Brexit and the dramatics playing out in Parliament in the past few days, you would be forgiven for thinking that there is no other political issue being talked about right now. But there is, and the size of the issue in all senses of the word could not be more opposite than Brexit.
We’re talking about the height of letter boxes.
Letter boxes in Parliament
At lunch time this afternoon, just before MP’s were due to begin debating the Labour motion of No Confidence in the Government, MP Vicky Ford proposed new legislation in the Commons to ban low-level letter boxes. She was granted around 20 minutes to propose and then debate the idea. After all the heavyweight politics of the last few weeks, this seemed almost like light relief, to be actually talking about something different.
The idea is to adopt EU standards on letter boxes which required them to be installed at a height of 700mm to 1700mm. This new legislation would be applicable to new doors on new-build properties only. However, the CWU (Communications Workers Union) said that whilst they wouldn’t expect home owners or businesses change their doors immediately to accommodate the new height regulations, they said they would like to see the legislation move on to cover existing doors as well.
Here’s where the idea becomes unattainable for me. It is far more straight forward to implement new ideas like this on new-builds, as home builders simply alter the specification of door they will buy in bulk to suit the new regulations. That’s easy. Nothing has been made and nothing has been installed. Retro-fitting, as the CWU has said they would like to see covered for existing doors is where it will be nigh on impossible to enforce. There are over 30 million homes in the UK, and I can put a fairly safe bet down that a lot of them would not meet this new regulation. As I read it, if the new regulations were to come in to force and cover existing doors, it may put home owners in a position where they may be forced to change their doors, all because of the height of their letter box. Do you really think that home owners are going to spend good money on a new door just to change their letter box? No, they won’t.
It was a short debate, which then moved on to the main business of the day.
Little chance of becoming law – BBC
It’s worth noting that there are over 95,000 posties who work for the Royal Mail. Even more if you count those who work for other delivery services. During the debate in Parliament, MP Vicky Ford said that there were more than 16,800 spells of absences in the Royal Mail alone last year due to back problems relating to the height of letter boxes.
These are figures that do need to be acknowledged. Those who deliver letters and parcels to us do a tough job. They’re constantly exposed to the weather and all it brings, as well as being at risk from being bitten by dogs or other animals. In the midst of Winter, when it’s snowing sideways and it’s minus 2 degrees, I’m sure many of us would prefer to be wrapped up warm in bed rather than delivering letters.
However, the idea of legislation that would have the potential to not only span the new-build sector but the existing residential market, pushing home owners into forced purchases of new doors won’t sell politically.
The BBC in their article on this subject reports that there is very little chance of this becoming law. It is coming back to the House for a second reading in March. But given other things that are happening in March, and the chances of this bill garnering any kind of serious support means it is unlikely to progress any further.
That being said, how often does an issue relating to our industry get even a little bit of air time online or in Parliament? Not often. So, even if it doesn’t become law, it does give a temporary platform to the concerns raised by the CWU for those who work in the Royal Mail and other postal services.
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