Bute’s constituency MSP, Michael Russell, has welcomed moves by his SNP colleagues at Westminster to try and protect the Royal Mail’s universal service obligation in the event of moves to privatise the Post Office.
Mike Weir MP, the party’s trade, industry, business, energy and climate change spokesman at Westminster, has lodged an early day motion in the House of Commons pointing out the danger to rural areas of any moves to free the postal service from its obligation to deliver mail at the same price to all parts of the UK, regardless of their distance from major population centres.
Mr Russell said: “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 regulator is already conducting research into the postal services that is 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.
“I have previously pointed out that the existing legislation could effectively lead to the loss of the first class service since there is no price cap on first class mail.
“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.”
Mr Weir said: “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.”