CUSTOMERS across Croydon will suffer when Royal Mail moves its main delivery office out of the town centre, postal workers claim.
A union has suggested that residents in outlying areas such as Norbury, New Addington and Sanderstead will find it hard to get to its new centre at the Wandle Park trading estate to collect parcels and items of postage if they miss home deliveries.
But Royal Mail has denied claims that its move to Factory Lane will force residents into long, inconvenient journeys, saying there are alternative ways of getting post delivered.
This may include more packages being left with neighbours or arrangements for another delivery at a time convenient to customers.
Royal Mail has submitted plans to Croydon Council to demolish the existing delivery office in Addiscombe Road and replace it with a new building comprising 240 flats and 1,800sqm of retail space.
Alan Tate, political officer of the Communications Workers Union, said staff in Croydon accepted a move would happen after detailed negotiations over facilities at the new building were ironed out.
However, he feared the move would bring a range of problems for customers and residents living near the new office.
Mr Tate said: "So far there has been only one meeting between us and Royal Mail about the changes and we believe they are rushing things through in preparation for privatisation of the post office.
"At present it is easy for people to collect undelivered items of post from Addiscombe Road because the office is well-served by public transport."
Mr Tate said the 300 workers were also concerned about how they would get to work with a lack of public transport or parking at Factory Lane.
A Royal Mail statement issued this week said: "This planned relocation and upgrade of our delivery office in Croydon will provide a better working environment for our people.
"We do not expect there will be any impact to the services we provide to our customers in Croydon.
"Almost no other company has daily contact with its customers in the way Royal Mail does and we wish to continue providing consistent and high-quality services to our customers in the area."