Royal Mail has banned its posties from delivering to a street in Chippenham because of an infestation of fleas.
The ban was put in place after a postman was bitten by fleas at a house in Queen’s Crescent, Chippenham.
The unprecedented step has been taken on health and safety grounds and, until the situation is resolved, residents in the 13 homes in the street have to travel to Royal Mail’s delivery office in Bumpers Way, Chippenham, to collect their post.
Royal Mail suspended deliveries following the incident on September 24. In a letter to the residents delivery office manager, Paul Gibbons, said the postman returned from his round in which he sustained numerous bites on his legs and arms by fleas or ticks that were in the grass and gardens of one of the homes in Queens Crescent.
Mr Gibbons says in his letter, dated October 4: “This is now causing us concern and in turn causing the suspension of service.
“This exceptional step has to be taken in order to safeguard the health and safety of Royal Mail employees. “Royal Mail has carried out its own investigation into the circumstances surrounding this health and safety hazard. We will also consider whilst completing the risk assessment what steps need to be taken to ensure employee safety before we can restore mail deliveries to your address.”
The homes affected are a mixture of bungalows, owned by GreenSquare Housing Association, and private houses.
No one was in the bungalow where the flea problem originated when the Gazette called.
Neighbour Lynne Cosh, 58, a GreenSquare tenant, said fleas had got into her home and garden and the problem was so bad she had replaced the carpets in her living room and bedroom.
She said: “It’s been going on for seven weeks. I have spent nearly £700, on carpets, for the pest control officer from Wiltshire Council to come out and various insecticides. “The other night I was in bed and the fleas were jumping on my face. I have since slept in my kitchen and at a friend’s house.”
Residents the Gazette spoke to had sympathy for the postman who was bitten.
Ms Cosh said: “I know what it’s like to be bitten by fleas. He was eaten alive. “If Royal Mail could organise a drop-off point, such as at the local shop, for us to collect our post that would be better. I don’t drive so I have to get someone to take me to Bumpers Farm.”
Icylin Thomas, 71, said: “I saw the postman after he had delivered the mail. He was brushing the fleas off his trousers. It’s not very good. It is the 20th century and Britain is one of the most modern countries in the world. “I have been bitten by fleas and so have my daughter and granddaughter.”
They both said the responsibility for tackling the flea problem was down to the housing association.
Terri Yewkins, customer manager at GreenSquare, said: “It is unusual for us to become involved in cases like this as our tenancy agreements state that tenants are responsible for dealing with pest infestations.
“However, in this instance, we have been dealing with the issue and working in partnership with Wiltshire Council’s public protection team to eradicate the problem. “One treatment has already been carried out and, if required, a second treatment will be carried out.”
Royal Mail spokesperson Val Bodden said: “We are keen to resume deliveries as soon as possible. “We wish to apologise to those customers affected.”