Legislating letterboxes

There’s A letter boxa petition on the Number 10 website that’s been doing the rounds amongst political activists (aka leaflet deliverers) in the last couple of days about the design of letterboxes.

Now if someone has been out delivering leaflets for political parties (or indeed other local community groups) the chances are they have tales of letterboxes that snap on your fingers, letterboxes that don’t protect you from the charging dog, “environmentally friendly” brushes that are meant to keep out draughts but just scrunch up anything stuck through the letterbox, letterboxes that aren’t there, and on and on. (Politics is so exciting and glamorous isn’t it?)

I’ve not signed it myself as being a good liberal (sorry!) I’m not quite convinced this is really a matter of central government legislation – it should more be a matter of Royal Mail and letterbox suppliers / sellers working harder together to raise standards (I mean, how hard is it to design a letterbox that works) and also it is up to us, the purchasers of letterboxes, to pick wisely. Maybe if all these methods are tried harder and fail then legislation could be a matter of last resort … but only last resort.

The serious point behind all this – apart from the one about dogs, fingers, blood and hospital visits that is – is that delivering literature through people’s letterboxes is a key part of political engagement – letting people know what their representatives are up to, soliciting feedback on views and so on. There is another area where current rules and practice really hinder that – and that’s the far too common references in property agreements banning people from displaying posters in their (flat) windows. That seems to me just a straight forward curtailment of freedom of expression at election times – and it’s hard to see why it is justified.

0 thoughts on “Legislating letterboxes

  1. As the one who started this petition I’d point out that one of the main problems is that very few people ever actually post anything through their own letterbox. Consequently many people just don’t realise why their mail always gets ripped, why the postman is swearing at 0800 in the morning or why they never seem to get the advance notice leaflet that the person on the doorstep is talking about.There’s also the problem that most letterboxes are positioned before anyone’s actually moved in and the changes to relocate a box/flap can be extensive and expensive, so I seriously question the notion that the vast majority of letterboxes are positioned where they are because of homeowner choice (especially in the rented sector) and that this “choice” should be respected. (Leaving aside current homes, would it be so wrong to make it a requirement when building new homes to have the letterbox properly positioned?)