Western Isles MP, Angus B MacNeil has expressed serious concern over the impact on the islands of Royal Mail privatisation.
The SNP have called upon the UK government to ensure that the Universal Service obligation is protected in their attempt to privatise Royal Mail.
The SNP say that current moves to introduce “end-to-end” service posed a real threat to the Universal Service, which could be a disaster for many areas of Scotland and especially in the island communities that are reliant on the Universal Service Obligation for affordable deliveries for both householders and businesses.
The SNP calls for service to be protected 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 postcodes.
The SNP’s Spokesperson on postal issues, Mike Weir MP, has lodged a Parliamentary 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.
Commenting on the issue Angus MacNeil MP said:
“Following on from the busy Christmas and New Year period, we should all reflect on just how vital a universal postal service is to us. It is especially important for rural communities and if we were to lose the Universal Service as the Tories and Lib-Dems push ahead with privatisation plans the rural businesses in our islands could be put at a significant disadvantage with more urban based competitors. That must not be allowed to happen.
“The Royal Mail service is vital at all times of the year and the privatisation plans of the present UK government pose a real threat to the continuation of the universal service.
“At present the Royal Mail is under an obligation to deliver mail at the same price in all areas of the UK six days a week. This is vital to many businesses, especially in rural areas, who do not have access to the special deals offered for bulk mail deliveries.
“If, however, competitors are allowed to cherry pick end to end deliveries in urban areas, this will seriously undermine the ability of Royal Mail to continue the service for all areas, and particularly in rural and more remote areas, where the cost of delivery is higher.
“The SNP has put significant pressure on the UK Government but we still need the guarantee of protection for the Universal Service.
“The postal services regulator is currently conducting research into the postal services and looking at changes to the universal service, which could include cutting delivery days from six to five, reducing quality of service and perhaps even getting rid of first class mail. This is deeply concerning.
“These changes would be a disaster for rural areas, and especially rural businesses. A reduction in days could also lead to substantial redundancies within the postal service.
“Scotland needs a first-class mail service for all our communities. The ridiculous scaremongering of the No campaign that we could not afford such a service 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 - attempted twice by Labour in power and now pursued by the current Coalition.”