HOUSEHOLDERS in East Lancashire could soon be handing over letters and parcels direct to their postman — if new trials are a success.

The Royal Mail is testing out the doorstep collection service in the North West and if the two-month pilot scheme is a success it could be rolled out nationally.

The trial is part of Royal Mail’s plans to offer new services to customers as it continues to modernise its business.

This is the first time that postal workers have collected mail directly from customers in urban areas.

Customers will be able to give stamped letters and small packets to their post for delivery instead of taking them to a post box or post office branch.

They will also be able to hand over prepaid postage items such as business replies and freepost items.

The new mailing system has been trialled in Rochdale and will also be tested in Purley and Urmston from Monday July 31.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: "The trial will run for two months in four postcode areas in the UK and will be evaluated once it has been completed.

“This service does have the potential to be rolled out to other parts of the country if successful.”

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has been working with Royal Mail in developing this new pilot service.

CWU National Officer, Mark Baulch said: “We have agreed in line with Royal Mail, to undergo a two-month trial whereby customers will be able to hand postal workers their ‘postboxable’ mail.

“This initiative is already underway in rural areas and in the interest of business growth we are now trialling a roll out to urban areas.”

The chief executive of Age UK with Blackburn and Darwen, Vicky Shepherd, said: “If it works properly it would be a help to elderly people who struggle to get to a local post office because they live in rural or smaller places.

“However it does need to properly trialled.

“We do not want to see too many changes to post offices in the future because we know that they remain important for people who rely on access to their services.”