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Scaling back post services could be a disaster for Highland businesses


By Hector MacKenzie

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David Richardson (inset) is concerned about the possibility of cuts to postal deliveries.
David Richardson (inset) is concerned about the possibility of cuts to postal deliveries.

Scaling postal deliveries back is not the way to improve services, a Highland business leader has said.

Watchdog body Ofcom floated the idea last week that Royal Mail could be allowed to halt Saturday deliveries or allow deliveries to take place on alternate days.

This has caused concern for Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Highlands and Islands development manager, David Richardson (pictured), about the potential impact.

“Our postal system is already fragile, and trimming it back still further is not the way to make improvements." - David Richardson

“With 25 per cent of small UK businesses relying on postal services, we can’t afford to compromise these services for short-term savings, for the FSB fears that Ofcom’s proposals could cause real disruption to our economy and undermine the trust small businesses place in the Royal Mail,” he said.

“Obviously, both of these proposals would not only impact directly on householders awaiting birthday cards or hospital appointments, they would also hit small businesses hard too, many having built their reputations on the provision of quick and reliable next-day deliveries to their customers, and/or many dependent on receiving supplies and urgent mail through the post themselves.”

And he added: “There are a great many sending and receiving businesses in the Highlands and Islands, and it’s no surprise that the risks stemming from a sporadic postal system are far greater in rural areas too.”

A third of small rural businesses across the UK report issues with the reliability of their broadband, and they will lean on the postal service more than their urban counterparts as a result.

“Our postal system is already fragile, and trimming it back still further is not the way to make improvements.

“Regular post is something deeply integrated into the nation’s routine, and while overall mail volumes might have fallen for understandable reasons in recent years, the number of small businesses relying on the service has not.

“The answer lies in modernising a service designed in the 1970s to fit the needs and expectations of today’s culture, in a way that doesn’t leave small firms feeling short-changed.”

While proposing next-day deliveries could still be available in some form, Ofcom said changes could save anywhere between £100 million and £650 million. The number of letters being delivered is reported to have fallen by a half in the last 10 years.


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