Thursday, 28 October 2010

Post Office privitisation is wrong - it is a service, not just a business

The Postal Services Bill 2010 was debated in the House of Commons today. The Bill would see amongst other reforms the Privatisation of Royal Mail, something to which both Labour and many Lib Dem MPs have for a long time been opposed.

It was Labour MP's who scuppered plans by the Gordon Brown to move towards a private sector solution in the last parliament.

The current 'Conservative Party' Bill would end the link between Royal Mail and local Post Offices and has raised concern over the future of many post offices across the country.

There were concerns today that a privatised Royal Mail would be able to use other outlets for its counter services rather than through the Post Office. This would mean that the Post Office network would end up losing a third of its income putting the future of the Post Office network in the UK into doubt.

The Bill will lift all restrictions on the ownership of the Royal Mail and would allow the Government to sell shares in the company. The Government itself has said that it does not believe there is a need for Government to keep a stake in the Royal Mail.

A YouGov poll recently suggested that the majority of voters opposed any privatisation of the Royal Mail.

I do not accept the Government’s stance that this is a decision that has to be made. My worry is that a lack of joined up thinking over this issue could end up drastically affecting services in the local area. The Governments reason that there is a £13billion pension shortfall comes form the pensions holiday of the last Tory Government, not as a result of Post Office or postal workers inefficiencies.

The second argument that is that it is losing money. Post Office's will always exist on the margin whilst they peform a social service. Whilst they subsidise the private sector with doorstep delivery.

Raising delivery prices, bringing in higher pricing for the private sector using Royal Mail, allowing POst Office's to have an advantage in a range of services they provide at Post Offices.

Post Offices play a vital role in our local community. They are a service upon which many depend and if the Government goes ahead with its plans for privatization this could quite frankly be the end of the local Post Office.

What we need to be doing is looking to extend the role of the Post Office, not diminish it. Where Post Offices have closed we should be looking into a wide range of measures not only to reopen them but to keep them open.

I joined the campaign to save Post Offices in the media then and believe privatisation is ususally the wrong solution reducing wages, conditions, breaking the community connection and public service ethos resulting in a decision making process that is unnaccountable in it's social consequences.

I very much hope that this Government provides Royal Mail with the same support that it was given under Labour.