Argyll and Bute MSP blasts ‘postcode penalty’

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell has echoed concerns from Westminster over the issue of unfair delivery charges to remote, rural and island communities in Scotland.

Mr Russell said it was ironic that the issue had been raised by a Liberal Democrat MP in the week that the UK coalition government announced plans to privatise Royal Mail.

Responding to concerns aired by Sir Robert Smith, the Liberal Democrat MP for West Aberdeenshire, Mr Russell said: “Delivery charges are a huge issue for rural Scotland. The situation is unacceptable and since many companies use postcode districts towns just off main arteries can be denied delivery simply because their postcode also covers a large rural area.

“Private delivery services will either not deliver to the Highlands and Islands or will only do so at huge cost. This underlines the fact that both consumers and businesses in rural Scotland rely disproportionately on the Royal Mail both for deliveries and pickups.

“The issue cuts both ways since businesses in rural Scotland also cannot get the major private couriers to pick up from their premises in rural Scotland.

“It is somewhat ironic that this issue is being raised the day after the Tory/LibDem government have announced their intention to sell off shares in Royal Mail, which could seriously imperil services to rural areas and end the universal service which is so vital to Scottish rural consumers and businesses.

“The Scottish Government are investing a huge amount in fibre optic broadband which has the potential to give a massive boost to rural business, but it needs the back up of a reliable, reasonable cost postal service.”