ROYAL Mail has apologised to customers in Oxfordshire after deliveries were hit by the weather.

Postal workers said a backlog of mail was building up because postmen have been unable to reach some areas due to icy conditions.

Steve Gill, from the Communication Workers Union (CWU), who works at Royal Mail House delivery office off Oxpens Road in Oxford, said: “Postmen are doing their best in difficult conditions and some are risking their safety to get the mail delivered.

“Some parts of the city like Cumnor Hill have been very difficult to reach because of the ice and there are side streets which have not been gritted by the city council.

“The management is saying that postal workers should take annual leave or a special day without pay if they can’t make it in, but we think that is harsh.”

Staff living in Oxford but working at the Swindon sorting office had been asked to work locally, he said.

Alan Pope, 75, of Kennington Road, Kennington, said on Friday he had received no mail since Tuesday and added: “I phoned customer care and was told the mail was being held back until the weather improved.

“I was a postman for 38 years until I retired 10 years ago and I would walk through snowdrifts. I can understand that rounds take longer in this weather but the postmen could still deliver the mail – the milk and papers have arrived.”

Sue Dakin, a spokesman for Royal Mail, said: “We are attempting to deliver where it is safe to do so, but unfortunately services have been severely disrupted. We would like to apologise to customers.”

Ms Dakin added that when employees were unable to come into work, cases were judged on their merits.

She explained staff were not forced to make deliveries in the snow if they had safety concerns, and were given the option of other duties.

She said: “The health and safety of Royal Mail staff is our number one priority.

“We work closely with our own safety specialists and those of the union to ensure nobody is put at risk.

“We have been keeping mail moving through our network despite the extreme weather conditions, and as mail reaches our delivery offices, our postmen and women have been going out on delivery in very difficult circumstances.

“It is our intention that services will return to normal as quickly as possible.”

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