New mail plans

LOCAL businesses could be hard hit by proposed changes in mail prices proposed by Ofcom, the mail regulator, Angus MP Mike Weir has warned.

He revealed this week that he had asked for clarification of the matter following a meeting with the regulator prior to Christmas. In response to Mr Weir’s concerns, Ofcom has now confirmed that the only universal service will be the present second class service.

Mr Weir said that this could have a huge effect on small businesses in rural areas such as Angus.

He went on: “These are idiotic and regressive proposals.

“Under their current proposals Ofcom are to define the universal service as the current second class service, and even there the price is to rise substantially.

“They confirm that they ‘will be consulting on which services are included within the universal postal service, but it will include a service for packets and parcels which will be available to small businesses’. It is clear, however, that small businesses will no longer be sure to have access to a first class service which is essential for many small businesses, especially those in rural areas such as Angus.”

Mr Weir continued: “Worse still, it is clear that Royal Mail will be able to charge what it likes for the first class service, which could make it completely uneconomic for small businesses, especially since Royal Mail will be under no obligation to charge the same first class price throughout the country leaving it open to them to charge higher prices to deliver to more rural or remote locations.

“These changes will completely undermine the same cost everywhere system that has been the bedrock of the Royal Mail service since the introduction of the penny post back in 1840.

“Such a situation will also make it much more difficult for small businesses to set up and operate in more rural location setting back attempts to grow such businesses to get us out of the current economic mess.”