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County Post Offices In New Closure Threat

Postal deliveries in rural parts of Warwickshire could be priced out of normal people’s reach if deregulation plans are allowed to go ahead, an MEP has warned.

West Midlands MEP Liz Lynne has vowed to fight plans by the European Commission to deregulate the Post Office monopoly on the letter delivery service to all 26 million addresses in the UK.

Competition Commissioner Frits Bolkestein wants the delivery service of all mail weighing more than 50g to be open to full competition from 2003, compared to the present level of 350g.

But Ms Lynne fears the change would threaten the universal postal delivery service, raise the price of stamps and put even more pressure on the sub post office network.

She said:

"We know these proposals have split the Commission. Competition is a good thing, but without some limits we risk throwing the baby out with the bath water.

"There is no guarantee that the British government will stop the plan - we have to persuade MEPs to block it in the European Parliament.

"Sweden has already tried this policy and though business postage bills fell the results have been catastrophic for ordinary people."

The cost of stamps for mail weighing between 20g and 60 g in Sweden has soared to 71p, while in the UK first class mail up to 60g costs just 27p.

Even for letters below 20g, Sweden is the fourth most expensive country in the EU, according to the Post Office.

Liz Lynne added:

"If this move came in it is clear that profitable urban deliveries would be hived off. Either stamps would rise in price dramatically or the Post Office would become uneconomic and would have to abandon the universal delivery of mail.

"That would be a disaster for rural areas in counties like Shropshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire in my region, where communities are already struggling.”

"Even if the universal deliveries are kept on, there would have to be massive cutbacks on the sub post office network on top of those already proposed.

"I am sure MEPs in other areas face a similar position. We should listen to the Post Office which says the limit must be set at no less than 150 grammes from 2003 to maintain viability of their services.

"And our Post Office is one of the most efficient in Europe - some others would struggle at that level.

"We should not allow yet another instance of private gain for public pain."

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CWN / Politics / MEPs / Liz Lynne / 14 Dec 99

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