Postcards for saving our post


Over the past few weeks my postman in Westminster has been delivering a steady stream of postcards and letters from local people opposing the privatisation of Royal Mail. I completely agree. Along with my Labour colleagues I opposed the privatisation of this 372-year-old British institution when the Government first introduced early in this Parliament – and oppose it now.

The Conservative-led Government is still failing to demonstrate why this is the best time to sell, or why a sale will deliver best value for the taxpayer. Instead, they are rushing headlong into privatisation but failing to address some very important issues for the public.

Firstly privatisation is a big threat to the all-important agreement the Royal Mail has with the Post Office, under which the Post Office provides Royal Mail products and services – crucial to the long term future of our local Post Offices. Having campaigned with the community keep our local post offices open, I know just how important this issue is to people in the Northfield area.

And secondly, a publically owned Royal Mail gives the taxpayer a key interest in universal postal services.  Individuals and small businesses up and down the country rely on the Royal Mail’s universal service, which continues to collect and deliver letters six days a week at an affordable and standard price. That price is the same for every UK address –  whether you are send a letter to your local council or one to your relative in Scotland.

Local people are rightly questioning just what will happen to this service if the Royal Mail is privatised. We know that badly executed privatisations in the past – such as with the rail – have resulted in sub-standard services that were poorly co-ordinated, complex to navigate and resulted in consumers being ripped off. We cannot let this happen with our post.

I am concerned that this privatisation is a desperate move from a Government eager to dig itself out of financial difficulties at any price – and it is the taxpayer who will be the loser. Short term political considerations must not influence the long term future of national institutions like the Royal Mail, that millions of ordinary people across the UK rely on. 

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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