Ryeview – March 2009

Post Offices facing mass destruction by our politicians

John Clark writes…

First published: March 2009 – Gazette & Herald

Politicians have a great ability to face both ways at the same time. This is usually achieved by the skilful use of smoke and mirrors. I am able to inform the Gazette and Herald readers that after the smoking ban this feat is still achieved by mirrors alone.

Nationwide, politicians have shouted their support for Post Offices. Local, rural, community, village, were all fought for. Now the message is: “It is with huge regret that the government did not respond to the concerns of the people in ‘Little Twittering’ and keep our Post Offices open.”

Meanwhile back at the Houses of Parliament the same politicians are putting in place action for the mass destruction of our Post Offices. They are not at the preparation or planning stage or even the beginning of the demise. The seeds of destruction were sown in the very early 80’s. The present politicians are carrying it out. Let me explain:

The Post Office Group are a group of separate companies. These include Royal Mail, Parcel Force, Post Offices Ltd and others. Post Offices Ltd has made a loss in 14 of the last 15 years. Some of the profit from the Royal Mail has been transferred to the Post Offices Ltd to offset these losses. If the Royal Mail is part privatised some of the profits would go elsewhere – the shareholders.

To make it even worse for Post Offices the government proposes to separate Post Offices Ltd from the rest of the group. This will mean no support from the Royal Mail. Rapid closure of many more rural post offices will be the result.

With skilful mirror use Peter Mandelson’s department says “Post Offices are not part of the changes and its ownership would not be affected by them.” True, its ownership would not be affected but the removal of financial support would damage its very existence   and the service would crumble.

The next trick is that “the Royal Mail will be modernised by a strategic partnership.” Not even conjuring will produce a trick where combining the Royal Mail with a less efficient and dearer organisation will both modernise and keep the price of mail down. Both the likely candidates have delivery costs considerately higher than the Royal Mail. Between 1981 and 1999 French, Italian and German governments invested in the modernising of their Postal Systems. Meanwhile the British government was doing the opposite. £2.4billion   was taken out of the Royal Mail in ‘excess profits’. Modernisation requires investment, not the removal of profit followed by criticism and blame. In summary the separation of Post Offices Ltd and the removal of financial support by the Royal Mail will have a devastating effect on Ryedale’s and other post offices.

Anyone who supports the part privatisation is voting for a massive hike (probably double) in the cost of posting letters and parcels. Anyone who supports the part privatisation is voting to close more post offices. Shouting for retaining Post Offices while voting for their demise must be seen as a trick too far.

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