WEST Aberdeenshire MSP, Dennis Robertson has warned that proposed changes could leave rural and remote communities with a second class postal service.
As part of a consultation on the future of the universal service obligation, which ensures it costs the same to send and receive mail wherever people live, Ofcom are proposing to give Royal Mail full commercial freedom to determine contracts with large companies and other postal providers as to what they will charge for the final delivery of items.
Ofcom suggest there should be no cap on prices for the vast majority of Royal Mail’s services, including business post, bulk mail, and large letters and parcels sent second class.
Mr Robertson fears that “plans to privatise Royal Mail would lead to higher prices in rural and remote areas in his constituency of Aberdeenshire West.”
He added: “Everyone understands that it is more expensive to deliver items to rural and remote areas, but up to now we have always had a one price anywhere policy which ensured that we did not have the situation that has developed in the parcels market where some companies will not deliver everywhere in the Highlands and in remote areas of Scotland.
“I warned rural constituents in the 2010 Westminster campaign that a move to privatise Royal Mail would lead to ‘rip-off’ delivery charges to be levied against people who live in remote and rural areas. I agree with Andy Willox, Chairman of the North- east region of the FSB, the removal of the cap on prices would have very serious consequences for small businesses who rely heavily on Royal Mail’s services and the proposals come at a time when many are under real pressure.”
“Today Liberal Democrat MPs are asking online and mail order companies to consider sending packages with Royal Mail because Royal Mail is cheaper but for how long? The Ofcom proposal would allow Royal Mail to charge whatever it wanted for first class services while the cost of second-class postage could rise by more than 50 per cent. A move like this would be very worrying as I firmly believe it undermines the Universal Service Obligation.
The Postal service remains vital to our rural communities and they must look at them again before it is far too late.”