ROYAL Mail is being urged to scrap a planned shake-up of delivery office opening times in North Ayrshire.

The postal service has revealed proposals to push back start times across the UK, which would mean customers and rural businesses receiving mail much later in the day.

Under the new plans, delivery offices at Saltcoats, Irvine and Kilwinning will open more than two hours later, whilst the office at Dalry will open just under two hours later.

Currently, no office in the region opens later than 7.10am, but none will open before 8.30am on the new draft timetable. The opening hours of the Saltcoats office, according to the Royal Mail website, are 8-10am on Mondays, 8am-2pm Tuesday-Friday, and 8am-12pm on Saturdays. However, the average current start time is 6.50am, with an average current finish time of just after 2pm.

West Scotland MSP Katy Clark (Labour) is calling on the company to reconsider.

She said: “This proposed shake-up will mean that some people will be waiting until late in the afternoon to get their post.

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“For areas like North Ayrshire, which has many rural communities and businesses, these changes will have a really worrying and disproportionate impact.

“This shake-up will also dramatically change the working patterns of postal staff, who would be expected to work up to five hours in the height of summer heat or the darkness of winter.

“It also comes at a time when workers are being asked to accept a serious real terms pay cut during a cost of living crisis.

“These changes show why we need a publicly owned postal service, more accountable to citizens. I will be writing to the Royal Mail to demand they’re not taken forward.”

Royal Mail said all options are subject to negotiation and consultation where appropriate.

A spokesperson added that the proposals are a “work in progress” and any changes would be phased in over a number of years.

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A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We are in discussion with the Communication Workers Union about moving start times later to meet the growing customer demand for more next day parcel deliveries, and to reduce our environmental impact by moving more mail by rail over time.

"We have made it clear that these proposals are all subject to further discussion and detailed design, and no plans have been finalised.

“More parcel companies are now delivering later into the evening to meet changing customer needs, and we are redesigning our network to deal with growing numbers of parcels, including investing in two new super hubs.

"As part of our ongoing planning, we are exploring a number of changes that would mean that we would still deliver letters by 5pm, as opposed to by 4pm currently.”