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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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BAN ‘FAIR-WEATHER FIRMS’ FROM ROYAL MAIL BID - MP

Monday, 20 December 2010

Local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has called for “fair-weather firms” who abandoned deliveries to addresses in Scotland because of the winter weather to be banned from bidding for Royal Mail under privatisation plans.

The SNP MP – who is a member of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee which is currently examining postal services in Scotland - said the suspension of deliveries by private delivery companies underlined the difference between private firms and Royal Mail whose universal service obligation ensures that deliveries continue in all conditions.

Dr Whiteford has also supported an Early Day Motion (EDM) on the issue in Parliament tabled by an SNP MP.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“The difference between fair-weather firms who abandoned deliveries and Royal Mail who are battling through the winter weather to meet their obligations to people in Banff & Buchan totally reinforces the case to keep the post public.

“The companies that cancelled Christmas deliveries are not up to the standards of the universal postal service, and they should not be allowed to bid for Royal Mail under the UK Government’s privatisation proposals.

“We already know that Vince Cable is considering scrapping Saturday deliveries and switching to five day a week delivery – the absolute minimum allowed under European regulations. It is simply inconceivable that the universal service obligation could survive in its current form after privatisation.

“Any reduction in the universal service obligation will be hardest felt by people in rural areas like Banff & Buchan, and crucially businesses, who rely about these deliveries. More so, at a time of economic turbulence it is absolutely crucial that businesses in rural areas have access to high quality mail services.

“The universal service obligation is vital to individuals and small businesses throughout Scotland and must not be put at risk by privatisation. This should be a wake up call to Vince Cable to reconsider his plans and abandon plans to sell off this vital national resource. At the very least he should make it abundantly clear that no company which is prepared to simply abandon services in Scotland will be considered as a purchaser of any part of Royal Mail.

“Royal Mail cannot be viewed as just another company. It provides an essential public service, especially to smaller communities and small businesses who do not have access to alternative carriers.”

Note:

The text of Angus MP Mike Weir’s EDM is detailed below:

Mail Deliveries

That this House congratulates Royal Mail employees in their sterling efforts to keep mail deliveries going in Scotland despite the recent atrocious weather; contrasts this with the decision of several private delivery services to abandon all attempts to deliver in Scotland; believes that this demonstrates the difference between Royal Mail’s social obligations under the universal service and the attitude of private operators; calls upon the UK government to abandon plans to privatise Royal Mail or, at the very least, to state that no company which has shown itself unwilling to continue deliveries in these circumstances would be considered as a purchaser or partner of Royal Mail.

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