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