Chain of mail delivery 'should not be broken'

Consumer groups warned the Government yesterday not to interfere with the way the Post Office receives, sorts and delivers mail.

This chain would be broken if sorting offices were put out to franchise through competitive tendering, as envisaged in the proposals for the sale of the Post Office recommended to Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, by civil servants.

'It is important to ensure the responsibility for the trail of receiving, sorting and delivering is maintained, because otherwise we will never know who is responsible for what,' Tom Corrigan, chairman of the Post Office Users National Council (POUNC), said. 'I don't say it couldn't work. It could work with suitable contractual arrangements, but it would be quite a high risk.'

Consumer groups said they would not be concerned about the ownership of the Post Office, as long as the industry was well regulated and provided a good level of service. The private sector is already involved in Post Office work, with 18,000 shops and supermarkets doubling up as post offices. There is also significant private sector competition in parcels, with companies such as United Parcels and TNT.

Last July, POUNC told Mr Heseltine that a high level of service could be delivered by either leaving the service as it was, or privatisation, or giving much greater freedom to the Post Office in whatever form it took.

Mr Corrigan said: 'This remains our view until we know what Mr Heseltine intends to do. We stressed the commitment - and Mr Heseltine described it as a non-negotiable commitment - to continue a universal service at a universal price.'

Commenting on a proposal to reduce from pounds 1 to 50p the figure below which the Royal Mail has a monopoly on post, Mr Corrigan said: 'If business were removed from the Post Office but the targets were to remain the same, then it would impose a very serious burden on the Post Office which might well fall on the rest of the public in terms of higher prices, or deteriorating standards, or both.'

The National Consumer Council said it was important to ensure careful regulation, and 'if they are introducing competition, provide true competition, and not the kind of thing you've got in telecommunications where there is only very limited competition on the fringes'.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'