Royal Mail sell McLeod highlights concerns for rural services

SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod today (Thursday) commented on the announcement that the Westminster government has confirmed the sale of shares in Royal Mail, highlighting concerns over the implications of privatisation for services to rural communities.


Dr McLeod said:


“This is a deeply flawed Westminster decision, which threatens to have particularly harmful consequences for Scotland where so many of our rural communities and so much of our rural economy relies on our existing Royal Mail service.


“The UK Government is refusing to heed the real and genuine concerns that privatisation will mean a reduction in rural services as companies cherry-pick and compete in the larger urban areas.


“After all, even while postal services in this region have remained in public ownership we have seen post offices closed across the region. Given our experience of previous privatisations no one believes that the regulator will provide real protection to consumers on either prices or services.


“The Scottish Government has invested heavily in a scheme to bring fibre optic broadband to 95% of the population by 2017. In Dumfries & Galloway the extra investment put up by the Council will guarantee that figure is reached.


“That investment gives a real opportunity to grow rural businesses, but it requires an efficient, comprehensive and reasonably priced mail service to back it up. There is guarantee whatever that a privatised service will not deliver that for rural Scotland.


“Ironically, the huge investment that the Scottish Government and Council is putting into next-generation broadband is precisely because market forces will not make it happen – there aren’t enough customers. Exactly the same principle can be applied to the Royal Mail.


“Royal Mail must be viewed as part of our national infrastructure – as we are now looking at broadband – not just as another business.”


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