Fears over PO changes

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A local politician says attempts to privatise the Royal Mail would be a “disaster” for rural businesses.

Aberdeenshire West MSP Dennis Robertson said that current moves to introduce “end-to-end” service posed a real threat to the universal service obligation.

Mr Robertson’s party, the SNP, has called upon the UK government to ensure that the obligation is protected in their attempt to privatise Royal Mail.

The SNP calls coincide with a report published by Citizens Advice Scotland last month, showing that people living in some remote and rural areas of Scotland are paying extra money to have goods bought online delivered to their homes – with many courier companies refusing to deliver to certain post-codes.

SNP MP Mike Weir has lodged an Early Day Motion, supported by the Communications Workers Union, pointing out the dangers and calling for urgent action. The motion has won widespread support from many parties in the House of Commons.

Mr Robertson said: “These changes would be a disaster for rural areas in Aberdeenshire, and especially rural businesses. A reduction in days could also lead to substantial redundancies within the postal service.

“I warned rural constituents in the 2010 Westminster campaign that a move to privatise Royal Mail would also lead to “rip-off” delivery charges to be levied against people who live in remote and rural areas, then I campaigned in 2011 to protect the Royal Mail Delivery and Collection Office in Westhill from closure.

“Scotland needs a first-class mail service for all our communities. The ridiculous claim from some that we could not afford such a service after a Yes vote in 2014 is shown for what it is - when under the existing UK system we are looking at the possible loss of services through the rush to privatisation.”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Huntly, Strathbogie & Howe of Alford Alastair Ross also expresses his concern about the future of the Post Office in his ‘In my view’ column on page 14.

He states: “We learn that the Royal Mail may be privatised. It worries me.

“In 1837 Sir Rowland Hill circulated a pamphlet Post Office Reform: its Importance and Practicability calling for low and uniform rates of postage based on weight not distance. His radical reform envisaged a universal public service obligation where the cheaper routes would effectively subsidise the more expensive ones.

“These days subsidy seems to be a dirty word – especially if you live in cities where postal deliveries are cheaper to operate. That’s why private postal and parcel services do well in cities. But you may have noticed what I notice. Whenever I get a letter posted on one of those private services it ends up arriving by Royal Mail. They know that rural costs are higher and want no part of it. Only Royal Mail continues to honour the universal public service obligation and those other firms use them to deliver where they cannot.

“If Royal Mail gets sold off how long will it be before Sir Rowland Hill’s vision gets trampled and the universal service obligation gets consigned to the dustbin of history?”

Do you agree that privatisation of the Royal Mail could be a disaster for rural areas? Let us know at: news@deesidepiper.com