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Friday, 24 May, 2002, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Post chiefs reject delivery fears
Postman
Consignia has denied rural services will be cut
Consignia has rejected claims that it plans to increase the number of Scottish addresses which will not receive regular postal deliveries.

Postwatch Scotland, which monitors postal services, said the company - formerly the Royal Mail - wanted to extend the number of exempt addresses from 43 to 2,284.

But Consignia has moved to reassure people living in rural Scotland that their postal service will not be reduced.

It insisted there were no plans to change the obligation on the postal service, which dates back to 1840, to deliver mail six days a week.

Lesley Sawers
Lesley Sawers: "Unnecessary concern"

Speculation about future deliveries arose after the postal regulator, Postcomm, said it wanted to "rationalise" the system of exemptions.

Postwatch Scotland chairman Dr Tom Begg said that many addresses would be wrongly denied delivery.

"We need to make sure that any definition the regulator comes up with represents the consumer's needs properly," he said.

"Exceptions should only be permitted in really exceptional cases.

"It is not just about to whom the mail is being delivered, it is about who is sending it and the rights of those people sending it.

Rural service

"Universal service should really be taking into account these rights and people in remote areas are just as entitled to get their mail as people in urban areas."

But Consignia spokeswoman Lesley Sawers said the reports of service cuts were inaccurate.

"We currently deliver to about 2.5 million homes throughout Scotland and we are committed to maintaining and improving those services," she said.

Mail sacks
Rural concerns have been raised

"We are committed to maintaining our universal service obligation and we believe this report has caused unnecessary concern to customers in rural Scotland and we want to reassure them that we will maintain the mail services they currently receive."

A spokesman for Postcomm said it was not in the business of granting exemptions unless they were "absolutely necessary".

Exemption examples included a house listed as containing a "dangerous dog" which died four years ago.

Another was a home which was marked "inaccessible" even though the householder said the road leading to it was regularly used by vehicles.

'Tooth and nail'

The Scottish Liberal Democrats said if the reports were true, the cuts would be "fought tooth and nail".

John Thurso MP said: "This is exactly the danger I warned of when I raised this matter with Postcomm.

"I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg and we will fight this tooth and nail. This is the unacceptable face of privatisation.


That is wholly unacceptable and will be fought every step of the way

Alistair Carmichael
Orkney and Shetland MP

"New Labour in London should not try and ram it down our throats in rural areas."

Alistair Carmichael, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, said he would seek a meeting with Postcomm for assurances over rural services.

"It is apparent that rural and island communities are being expected to pay the price for management failures within Consignia," he said.

"That is wholly unacceptable and will be fought every step of the way.

"The universal service obligation exists to protect the interests of the very people whom Consignia are now treating as second-class citizens."

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Craig Anderson
"It's clear this won't go through without a fight"
See also:

31 Jan 02 | Scotland
31 Jan 02 | Business
31 Jan 02 | Business
21 Jan 02 | Business
12 Dec 01 | Business
12 Dec 01 | Business
14 Dec 01 | Business
26 Nov 01 | Business
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