Rural delivery warning

SNP Postal Affairs spokesperson, Mike Weir MP, has called on Ofcom to clarify proposals which could result in the price charged for sending parcels to remote areas soar.

As part of a consultation on the future of the universal service obligation – which closes on January 5- Ofcom are proposing to give Royal Mail full commercial freedom to determine contracts with large companies and other postal providers as to what they will charge for the final delivery of items.

Mr Weir has expressed concern that this could lead to higher prices in rural and remote areas and has raised the matter at a meeting with Ofcom.

Mr Weir said: “Everyone understands that it is more expensive to deliver items to rural and remote areas, but up to now we have always had a one price anywhere policy which ensured that we did not have the situation that has developed in the parcels market where some companies will not deliver to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

“Under the Ofcom proposals Royal Mail will be able to negotiate a contact directly with other companies but it does appear that it is the intention of Ofcom that such contracts should be cost reflective, which means that we could reach a situation where different prices were being quoted for different areas. Ofcom’s attitude appears to be that Royal Mail could not raise the costs too high or large companies may simply go fully electronic and use email and the internet. That does not take account of the fact that the postal service serves both senders and recipients and many recipients, especially in more remote areas, do not have access to fast broadband, or indeed broadband at all. These are very serious issues which Ofcom do not appear to have taken on board with their proposals. The Postal service remains vital to all areas of Scotland and they must look at them again before it is far too late.”

The consultation period ends today (Thursday) and Mr Weir is encouraging all those interested to make representations at: