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2009-10-25 - 12:02:00 - by AlisonW - Topic: UK-Politics: |

Last week there were – allegedly – two days of strikes at the Royal Mail. I say 'allegedly' as I didn't notice any effect, but others report some, so let's presume there were. On Friday the Communications Workers Union announced there would be three more days of industrial action in the coming week.

All this, of course, has meant the media publicising the 'alternative mail services' that supposedly exist, from TNT to a bloke on a bicycle in Portsmouth. Thing is with very few exceptions none of these 'alternative' organisations actually deliver the mail they collect. They cream off the majority of the fee paid for each item, but leave the current Royal Mail postie to actually put it though a letterbox. None of them have a public service obligation to provide a delivery to every property in the country; only the Royal Mail has that requirement set upon it. And how do we expect them to cover the costs of that service if the government lets others take the majority of what is – still – a low per-item fee for that service.

In my view, what is needed is that the cost structure of the cost of a stamp needs to be strongly biased to covering the cost of delivery and not collection (and bulk moving of the mail around the country). There are, clearly, options for great savings on the collection and distribution side of things, yet delivering will always rely on individuals going out in all weathers on foot.

The only alternative would be the loss of the every-delivery-to-the-home service and every person having to visit a postal delivery office to collect their mail, in a similar way to the loss of the milkman delivering everywhere daily. And I'm sure that isn't what we want.



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