Angry postal workers claim customers will suffer more mail misery once the Headington delivery depot closes.

They say deliveries will take longer once the move to east Oxford is completed next month, and people will have to travel miles to pick up parcels and special deliveries.

Staff are also unhappy at being forced to travel to Blackbird Leys when many of them live nearer the Lime Walk depot.

Managers who met staff yesterday (Tues) say the move will improve both customer service and the working environment for staff.

But one postman said: "We are going to have to move to the OX4 postal area to deliver to OX3 which for some of us who don't drive means a 45-minute cycle ride down a bypass in the dark just to come back again. That means it is going to take longer to deliver the mail.

"The state of the mail is terrible already in places like Barton and this is just going to make it worse.

"What they are expecting us to do is ludicrous."

About 60 staff will be forced to uproot to the offices in Sandy Lane.

Managers have admitted the Headington site will be sold off which union bosses say amounts to "asset stripping."

Communication Workers Union representative Bob Cullen said: "The service has been improving but this will set it back another 12 months.

"There is no interest in the customer - just short-term profit."

The union has now started a disagreement procedure which could lead to more industrial action after months of strikes and disputes. CWU representative Kevin Duffy will meet management tomorrow (Thurs).

A Royal Mail statement said the Headington office had become too small and had no space for growth.

It added: "The relocation will allow Royal Mail to expand its operation, improve efficiency and working conditions for our staff."

Royal Mail delivery sector manager Daryl Palmer said: "Moving into east Oxford is a clear demonstration of our commitment to provide our customers with the best possible service and our people with the best possible working environment."