Local Liberal Democrats have raised concerns that postal services in rural Cornwall could be damaged by the Conservatives’ decision to sell off the Government’s 30% stake in Royal Mail.
Chancellor George Osborne announced this week that the Government has already sold off half its 30% stake in Royal Mail and is planning on selling the other half shortly. The sale was limited to City firms, meaning the public were unable to buy shares.
Former North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson and Liberal Democrat Cornwall Councillor Paula Dolphin (Grenville & Stratton) are seeking reassurances that the Government won’t be forced to water down the legal requirement for Royal Mail to deliver mail anywhere in the country six days a week at a uniform and affordable price, despite their plans to sell off the Government’s 30% stake in Royal Mail.
The Postal Services Act 2011 requires Royal Mail to deliver mail to every address in the UK at least once a day Monday – Saturday, to collect letters at least once per day Monday – Saturday, and to offer services at an affordable, uniform rate to both rural and urban addresses across the UK.
Last November Royal Mail Chief Executive Moya Green said that the company’s ability to deliver letters to all parts of the UK six days a week for the same price was under threat from rival companies that can choose to deliver just to more profitable urban areas.
Dan Rogerson commented:
“Now that the Government’s substantial minority share in the Royal Mail is being sold off there are concerns that a fully privatised Royal Mail could put pressure on the Conservatives to reduce the legal duty to deliver to rural addresses at the same price as urban ones, so that they can compete with other private companies.
“Any changes the legal requirement that Royal Mail deliver mail six days a week across the whole country for the same price could be disastrous for residents, businesses and local economy in rural Cornwall if it meant that people had to pay more to post items to rural areas and received deliveries less often.”
“Given the concerns that were expressed by the Royal Mail chief executive last year Liberal Democrats are urging ministers to make sure that, before the next sale goes ahead, there is a comprehensive review of the powers of the postal regulator Ofcom to protect the universal service.”
Councillor Paula Dolphin commented:
“The Government’s recent announcement on Royal Mail was absent from the Conservatives’ election manifesto and has taken everyone by surprise.
“If a fully privatised Royal Mail leads to the Universal Service Obligation being reduced or scrapped then it could mean local people and businesses in rural communities in the Morwenstow, Launcells and Kilkhampton parishes I represent having to pay more to send and receive mail, just because they aren’t in a town or city where companies can make a profit.”