This article was written for Local View.
Constituents contact me through a variety of different means – letters, emails, phone calls to my office, tweets and postcards. Emails and postcards often support a particular cause or campaign. One of the most recent campaigns has been about the Post Office. Over the past couple of months I have received literally hundreds of postcards on behalf of the National Federation of SubPostmasters. They are extremely concerned about the sale of Royal Mail.
They are right to be concerned. The Royal Mail is a much cherished national institution and the decision by the Government to privatise it will, I fear, have a detrimental impact on those who use it. Members of the public, businesses and communities up and down the country are rightly concerned that the ‘comprehensive’ service of the Royal Mail will be seriously weakened.
Under the last Government consideration was given by Peter Mandelson to introducing a private element to the Royal Mail. This was criticised heavily at the time, but what we have now is a total sell-off of Royal Mail. Whatever ideological concerns there may be about the privatisation, many people are worried about the fact that the shares were sold for 330p and yet at the time of writing this article they are worth 586p. This means that the public have been short changed.
But the sale has taken place and the priority now must be to safeguard the services which the Royal Mail has provided for many years. What is absolutely central is the continuation of the one-price, six days a week Universal Service Obligation. There is also the very real risk of still higher prices, the cherry-picking of the most profitable parts of Royal Mail and the sale of local delivery or sorting offices. You can be assured that I will do all that I can to maintain the integrity of Royal Mail, even though it is now unfortunately in private hands.