COUNCIL chiefs will hold a summit with Royal Mail bosses over controversial proposals to close delivery offices this week.

Southend Council has revealed it will meet the company’s decision-makers on Wednesday to discuss the proposals to shut five offices - in Leigh, Shoebury, Great Wakering, Canewdon and Rochford - as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Royal Mail has insisted the proposed closures, which would go ahead next spring if approved, will have no impact on customers.

But councillors from all parties have rallied against the plans.

Nigel Holdcroft, the Tory leader of Southend Council, said: “I will make it clear that we are completely united as a council in opposition to these proposals.”

Deputy leader John Lamb added: “We are very concerned by the potential job losses at these closed sites at a very difficult time for the national economy, and the impact this will have on affected families in Southend.

“In Leigh alone, the delivery offices serve a population of some 56,000 people.

“A comparable number of people are served by the Shoebury office, which will have a very significant impact on traffic levels around Short Street if the closures go ahead.”

The spectre of closure hanging over the five delivery offices has sparked spirited campaigns to save them, including petitions which have been signed by more than 4,000 people.

Royal Mail has promised staff, who were briefed on the possible changes last week, there will be no compulsory redundancies and all employees will receive extra mileage payments to cover any lengthened commutes.

Steve Molloy, Royal Mail’s delivery director for Southend, said: “These proposed relocations are part of Royal Mail’s ongoing modernisation of its operations across the country “Our service to customers will continue to be a top priority during the consultations with staff.

“We aim to continue to provide a consistent and high quality service to our customers if these changes go ahead.”