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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Local MP Says Ignoring SNP Warnings Could be Death Knell for Universal Service

Friday, 23 May 2014

SPECIFIC COMMITMENTS FROM WESTMINSTER SET TO BE BROKEN

The worst fears of Banff & Buchan’s rural communities, postal workers and others over Royal Mail privatisation are set to come true, local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has said, after reports that the company is struggling to meet its Universal Service Obligation (USO).

Dr Whiteford, along with SNP colleagues at Westminster, has been warning over many years that the continued erosion of Royal Mail services, the failure of the regulator to prevent cherry picking of lucrative work by other companies and, ultimately, last year’s widely opposed privatisation would put huge pressure on the Universal Service.

The privatisation has already proved controversial, after the UK Government reportedly undervalued Royal Mail shares to the tune of almost three quarters of a billion pounds and Royal Mail is now saying that it is struggling to keep it’s obligation - the basic Universal Service principles have been in place for over 175 years.

Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“People in Banff & Buchan continue to place a great deal of value on the postal services we receive from Royal Mail, which has been reflected in my constituency office mailbag year after year. In Westminster the SNP has been warning repeatedly of the huge risk to the Universal Service from the continued erosion of Royal Mail which culminated with the disgraceful sell off of what was a valued publicly owned institution.

“It will be absolutely no surprise to anyone following that this new threat to the Universal Service that underpins our mail service has emerged. As soon as the Tory-led Westminster coalition decided to sell off the Royal Mail in their rushed - bargain basement sale – we again predicted that the USO – which is so vital to Scotland – and to rural businesses and communities in particular – would be threatened.

“For the North-east’s rural economy and the vitality of our rural communities the Universal Service is critical. By allowing other private companies to cherry pick the most profitable parts of the business, which help to support the USO, the UK Government and the regulator are failing Scotland.

“Royal Mail should never have been privatised. Figures showed 77 per cent of people in Scotland were totally opposed to the privatisation of Royal Mail - more than any other part of the UK.

“Only a Yes vote in September can ensure that Scotland will be assured of a mail service that meets the needs of our communities – and one which is brought back into public ownership."

Commenting on the announcement on the Royal Mail’s profits and performance following privatisation, Scottish Government Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing said:

“Postal services are a vital lifeline for many of Scotland’s communities, particularly in some of the nation’s more remote rural areas.

“Those communities depend on the delivery service guaranteed by the Royal Mail’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) – which is why it is so deeply concerning to see the concerns now being raised about the Royal Mail’s ability to fulfil the USO.

“We are concerned by anything which might undermine the USO in Scotland, and the Scottish Government is absolutely committed to maintaining at least the level of universal service provision inherited upon independence.”

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