The redesign of our road system is plainly a complex and contentious issue but a lack of strenuous leadership in our city and county institutions seems to be leading to its effective, and almost farcical, strangulation. Or suffocation.

Ronald Higgins, Quercwm, Vowchurch.

Gallows humour A LINE of black posts, newly erected in High Town, Hereford, might possibly be gallows for the suspension of councillors, or perhaps be topped by floodlights and used for midnight alcoholic football matches.

Any more suggestions?

A BARNABY, Green Street, Hereford.

Keeping this great service in business I REALLY do wish that people would stop moaning about junk mail'. It is, after all, only junk if you are not interested in it; inevitably with indiscriminate direct mailing only a very small proportion of it will interest any particular recipient and the rest will be binned. But, bear in mind, for every item you receive Royal Mail gets paid.

I do not find it too arduous a task each morning to sort through my mail and discard all that which does not interest me. It isn't exactly hard work. But I also know that I can sit in Peterchurch and write a letter to the remotest isle of Scotland or to the very tip of Land's End and Royal Mail will collect this letter from any one of some 120,000 roadside letter boxes (all of which are cleared at least once a day); it will get sorted, transported, sorted again and, within one or two days, a postal worker will individually hand-deliver my letter to any address in the UK for less than the cost of a packet of crisps!

By its very nature a universal postal service is very labour intensive; you can't get robots or computers to clear letter boxes or deliver mail, and labour is expensive.

We currently have a government which is (recklessly) keen on deregulation, privatisation and encouraging competition. Royal Mail is being circled by private courier firms keen to cherry-pick the profitable parts of the mail service (sending out credit cards and bank statements; inter-city business posting, etc) leaving Royal Mail with the loss-making rest.

The Wideboy Courier Company won't be interested in transporting your postcard of the Black and White house to the Outer Hebrides for twenty-three pence - you can be sure of that!

The very concept of the Universal Postage Service, introduced by Sir Rowland Hill's Penny Postage in 1840, with the Penny Black stamp, is under greater threat now than at any time in the past. If the price of preserving the incalculably-valuable service is a few pieces of junk mail each day it is, in my opinion, a price worth paying.

SIMON VAUGHAN-WINTER Closure Place, Peterchurch.