Operations at Sheffield’s Royal Mail hub received a stamp of approval with the opening of a multi-million-pound extension.
Coun Peter Rippon, Lord Mayor of Sheffield, yesterday visited the vast site on Brightside Lane, Newhall, to officially open the extension following a £25 million investment which sees it become the fourth largest mail centre in the UK.
The opening marks the culmination of three years’ work to extend and modernise the plant after a decision was made in 2010 to close mail centres in Doncaster and Hull and transfer their processing to Sheffield.
Coun Rippon said: “Royal Mail is an integral part of the Sheffield community and I am pleased the company has invested in modernising the mail centre.”
Following the transformation, the Sheffield centre now processes 18 million items per week and is one of the largest collection hubs in the UK, picking-up from more than 7,200 different collection points each day.
As well as funding the building’s extension to accommodate post brought in from Sheffield, Doncaster, Humberside and Lincolnshire, the investment has paid for state-of-the-art equipment that allows Royal Mail to modernise the way that it sorts post. This includes the introduction of two new letter sorting machines which can each process 40,000 letters per hour.
About 750 staff are based at the newly extended site and so further cash has been spent on training employees.
A new fleet of Royal Mail vehicles, which will be used by staff to cover the centre’s 403 sq mile patch, sees the last piece of the investment jigsaw fall into place.
Sue Whalley, Royal Mail chief operations officer, said: “Royal Mail provides one of the most comprehensive and best value services in the world, delivering to more than one million of the population, six days a week in South Yorkshire.
“However, the way in which we communicate with each other has changed dramatically and Royal Mail needs to modernise to be as efficient as possible. We are pleased to play an important role in the local economy of Sheffield and look forward to helping the area prosper for many years to come.”
Sheffield’s Mail Centre functions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure millions of parcels, letters and cards reach their final destination across the UK and overseas on time.
The plant floor is busy with letters being sorted by machinery, which read addresses and check the size and weight of the post before issuing letters to their destination area ready for delivery. Parcels have to be sorted by hand, as technology has not yet been developed for machines to do it.
Coun Rippon unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the event.