ROYAL Mail has shocked customers living in a remote community by announcing it will no longer deliver their post – for health and safety reasons.

Residents in the hamlet of Booze, in Arkengarthdale, North Yorkshire, accused Royal Mail of “cutting services by stealth”

after they were told the road leading up to their houses was too steep, and could exacerbate the back injury of one of its employees.

People in the hamlet’s 11 houses received letters last week telling them deliveries would be suspended the following day, and that they could collect their post from the sorting office in Richmond – a 45-minute drive away.

Several people living elsewhere in Arkengarthdale also received similar letters. One woman was told her deliveries would be suspended due to “an unsuitable track” that leads to her home.

North Yorkshire county councillor John Blackie, who represents the Upper Dales, said: “This is the thin end of the wedge. It represents a dangerous threat to services in remote communities everywhere, and it must be stopped.”

The road to Booze, from neighbouring Langthwaite, is maintained by the Highways Agency, and is not the responsibility of the people living there.

The letter, which was signed by delivery office manager Colin Appleby, read: “The road is extremely narrow, and if you have to reverse down, this is potentially an accident is waiting to happen.”

People were given three weeks to make permanent arrangements, which include having a roadside box installed or arranging for an alternative delivery point.

Hazel Harker, whose family has lived in Booze since 1945, said: “Luckily, I have a friend in Langthwaite and I have arranged for my letters to go there, rather than to Richmond.

“This is a basic service that we expect. It is unbelievable that we are just being cut off like this.”

Planning consultant Daniel Child said: “If I can’t rely on the postal service I don’t see how I can continue to work from home.

“This is a real blow for the rural economy, which is already suffering.

What business is going to come and set up here if they can’t even be sure they’ll get their post?”

A spokeswoman for Royal Mail said there were no plans to cut services elsewhere, but that the health and safety of its staff was of paramount importance.

“A health and safety assessment was undertaken and the report confirmed that access to a number of premises is a risk to our staff and, as a result, deliveries were suspended,” she said.

“Affected customers have been made aware of the issue and we have agreed with them to deliver their mail temporarily to an alternative address of their choice while arrangements are made for Royal Mail to provide, as a gesture of goodwill, roadside boxes, which will become their permanent delivery point.”

Councillor Blackie said: “If a particular staff member is not happy using country roads, I suggest he or she is not suitable for the post. This move raises real concerns for all our rural services.”