Tomorrow, Parliament will give a second reading to MP Vicky Ford’s bill to prohibit low-level letter-plates. If passed in the House of Commons, the bill will move to the House of Lords. If passed there, it will receive Royal Assent and become law.
The proposed legislation would adopt EU standards on letter-plates, forcing them to be installed at a height of between 70 cm to 170 cm from the ground.
Initially, this would only affect new doors on new-build properties. There is, however, union pressure to expand the scope of the legislation over time to include existing doors. It is not clear whether existing doors with low-level letter-plates would need to be replaced or augmented by separate letter boxes, or where the cost burden would fall.
The plan to amend Building Regulations to prohibit the fitment of low-level letter-plates on new-build developments has merit – according to Ford, postal workers had 16,800 days off due to back-related injuries in 2018. There is clearly a problem with a postie having to stoop hundreds of times during a delivery round to a new estate where all the doors have low-level letter-plates – but the plan to expand the proposed legislation to effectively outlaw some existing doors would have serious consequences for these homeowners. It is to be hoped that a sense of proportion will prevail.
Vicky Ford’s Bill won unanimous support. The Building Regulations Advisory Committee is going to include low level letter-plate rules in a review of Building Regulations. This could happen as early as next year.