The daily postal delivery should be an inalienable public service.
Just as the National Trust’s inalienable land cannot be bought, sold or mucked about with, so the Royal Mail’s universal service 0bligation, to collect and deliver mail six days a week should be sacrosant.
Even in these days of electronic communication, we still need the Royal Mail’s services.
When the government privatised the Royal Mail last year, business secretary Vince Cable promised that this would not affect the universal service obligation or the six-day service. Yet this week we heard that our daily post is once again under threat, due to a drop in share value. This is a service of which we should be proud. Of course it has declined markedly since Anthony Trollope’s day when a letter posted in the morning could arrive in the afternoon, but at least we can be sure that there will be a daily collection and delivery.
What is forgotten is that the daily post is a lifeline to isolated rural settlements. It may be a long trip for the post van along winding tracks to reach those isolated farmsteads, but it ensures that those who lives alone, who may be elderly or infirm, have the chance of at least one visitor a day.
Rural dwellers are becoming more and more isolated. They may well not have internet access. And now farm visits by officials—from the Rural Payments Agency, Natural England and others—are declining. Part of the government’s plans to cut red tape and reduce regulation include greater trust in the land manager to obey the rules without the need to check. That’s all very well, but it also means more rural isolation.
The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) in its seven years (2006 to 2013 when it was tragically abolished in its prime by government), carried out invaluable research, showing that rural isolation and poverty are serious matters. You can read some of its reports here.
For once I agree with the CLA which has slated the threat to Royal Mail’s universal service obligation. Doing away with our daily post will only make matters much worse for the rural population.