Royal Mail motion sparks heated debate at meeting

Royal Mail services
Royal Mail services

A ROW broke out at the council last week over an emergency motion to write to the UK business minister regarding rural postal services.

The motion, put forward by Councillor Stuart Bell of the SNP, read: “The council affirms its support for the universal provision of postal services in the Scottish Borders and agrees to make representations on behalf of its rural community in relation to any proposed changes to ownership of Royal Mail.”

Despite being voted through 20-7, the wording of the motion, and the motives behind it, were criticised by the Conservatives, led by Michelle Ballantyne.

However, Mr Bell denied it was politically motivated, and was merely about the preservation of services in the light of the Government’s plans to sell off up to 60 per cent of Royal Mail.

Mr Bell said: “There is a risk of charges going up and services reducing.”

However, Mrs Ballantyne said the Government was aiming to secure Royal Mail’s future, ‘not undermine it’, adding that the universal service obligation, which ensures UK-wide standards of collection, delivery and cost of posting items, was protected for the next nine years.

She added that the motion ‘lacked clarity’ and that it was not clear what the letter would say.