THE elderly residents of a park home site have had to set up their own makeshift sorting office after the Royal Mail refused to deliver post to their houses.

The postman who visits the 81 homes is alleged to have been threatened by one resident and now the Royal Mail have suspended deliveries amid fears for his safety.

An army of volunteers, some aged in their 80s and 90s, are left with the scrupulous task of sorting through hundreds of letters in the estate office where the mail is left.

The team spend an hour dividing the mail into piles for the individual properties at the Oaklands Home Park in Warmwell near Dorchester, Dorset.

Homeowners, many of whom are frail, then have to walk to the office to collect their post - although the volunteers deliver letters to the doors of the least agile.

At least two of the residents have missed hospital appointments because of the disruption and dozens of Mother's Day cards were late arriving too.

June Manning, 80, who has lived at the park for 16 years, said: "The post arrives in the day and by late afternoon we all have to go down to collect it.

"Most of the residents are between 80 and 90 years old and rely on basic services like post.

"Royal Mail's reasoning is that the safety of their postmen was paramount but what sort of danger do they think they're under from a group of OAPs?

"Their actions are unfair. If they want to punish someone they should punish the person they have a dispute with, not the entire park."

The dispute comes just days after the Royal Mail bumped the price of a first class stamp up to 62 pence and six months after the company was privatised by the Government.

Irene Gordon-Till, 80, who has lived at Oaklands for more than 20 years, called a meeting of the park's residents after mail stopped being delievered to her door.

The retired nurse, known as Tilly, said: "Royal Mail gave us no warning that they were stopping delivery of our mail - it just didn't come all of a sudden.

"Now they are delivering it in bulk to the park office and we're left to sort it out ourselves.

"For elderly people letters can be a real lifeline and they just cut it off.

"With the cost of a first class stamp going up to 62p we are paying more than ever for postage yet we are getting less service.

"Everyone has the right to do their job without getting abused but it's about the principal of it - Royal Mail is expected to fulfil the service they advertise."

Doug Houston, a manager for park owners RS Hill and Sons, branded the situation 'ridiculous' and said he was in negotiations with Royal Mail as to how to resolve it.

Mr Houston said: "There was an altercation between one of the residents and the postman, and so without any warning Royal Mail stopped delivering to any of the homes.

"The situation is a bit ridiculous.

"I am very disappointed with Royal Mail's professionalism - many elderly people rely on post for letters about hospital appointments and other important information.

"Not getting their post could have huge consequences for any one of the park's residents."

As the designated provider of the 'universal postal service', Royal Mail is legally bound to deliver mail once a day, six times a week, to all addresses in the UK.

However they may refuse to deliver to addresses that are remote or inaccessible, or those which present a danger to their staff.

Mike Devanny, spokesman for Royal Mail, said services had been suspended due to "threatening behaviour" by one of the park residents.

He added that deliveries to the park office resumed three days later at the request of the site owners.

He said: "The safety and welfare of our staff is paramount and we only suspend deliveries if the safety of our postmen and women is at risk.

"We would be happy to discuss arrangements that would allow a reversion to delivery to individual properties on the site if requested by the site owners or residents association."