Milkmen could take over postal services

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The Independent Online

The postal industry's regulator has put forward plans for milkmen and supermarkets to collect and deliver letters in direct competition with the Post Office.

A consultation document released by Postcomm, the new regulator, last night suggested that other businesses with existing distribution networks, such as newspaper companies or freight operators, could also deliver mail efficiently.

The regulator is seeking views over the next three months on whether to grant licences to other operators or restrict competition if there is a threat to the postal service, currently provided by Consignia, formerly the Royal Mail. Talks have already been held with major courier firms, overseas operators and other companies with a network of delivery vehicles, and licences could be granted as early as next year if the plans go ahead.

Graham Corbett, chairman of Postcomm, said: "Consignia knows that competition is coming, although I'm not sure they wholeheartedly welcome that.

"If we really want competition we have to find ways that are customer-friendly. There are a lot of ways of cutting this cake," he added.

Consignia said it would make a detailed response after it had studied the proposals.