Call for Royal Mail service obligation to be maintained

Angus M.P. Mike Weir.
Angus M.P. Mike Weir.

Local MP Mike Weir has called upon the UK Government to take urgent action to protect the post Universal Service Obligation (USO).

Mr Weir, the SNP’s postal services spokesman at Westminster, said in a recent House of Commons debate that privatisation of Royal Mail has been a mistake and has led directly to the threat to postal services in rural areas as Angus.

He also said it emphasised the importance, not only to individuals but also to businesses, of having a reliable and cost-effective postal service.

Mr Weir said: “The Universal Service Obligation is vitally important to rural areas of Scotland, not just to those who receive mail but also to the very many small businesses who operate in rural Scotland and rely upon the service to get their products to customers; the internet is a two-way street but only if we have a reliable and cost-effective postal service and we are now told that service is in real and imminent danger.

“The danger to the Universal Service following the extension of competition with the privatisation of Royal Mail was entirely predictable, and indeed predicted. Less than a year after their flotation Royal Mail are finding that the brave new world of private enterprise is full of difficulties and the company are now seeking OFCOM to undertake an urgent review of the USO as it cannot guarantee that it will remain sustainable, with competitor companies cherry-picking profitable urban routes.”

Mr Weir pointed out that the options available to OFCOM are limited by the act and warned that one of the possible outcomes was a reduction in the terms of the USO from its current six days a week deliver everywhere obligation.

“The UK government must make absolutely clear that the protection of the USO is an essential condition of that privatisation and whatever the outcome of any OFCOM review there will be no diminution of the USO.”