DIRECT NEWS: Industry welcomes Post Office move

The direct marketing industry has largely welcomed this week’s announcement by the Trade and Industry Secretary, Peter Mandelson, that the Post Office will not be privatised but granted greater commercial freedom.

The direct marketing industry has largely welcomed this week’s

announcement by the Trade and Industry Secretary, Peter Mandelson, that

the Post Office will not be privatised but granted greater commercial

freedom.



In a statement made to Parliament on Monday, Mandelson outlined a

package of reforms. He said: ’We do not rule out making further changes

to equip the Post Office for success, such as minority share sale or an

exchange of equity with other businesses. In the long term, this also

means bringing in legislation to turn the Post Office into a PLC.’



A key element of the package is the commitment to install a ’tough, new

independent regulator to protect customer interests, regulate prices and

enforce fair competition’.



The direct marketing industry has long been concerned that if the Post

Office were given greater commercial freedom it would be allowed to

abuse its monopoly to deprive traditional direct-mail service providers

of business, unless a regulator was put in place immediately.



WWAV Rapp Collins welcomed the recognition of the need for a strong

regulator, but expressed concern that the Post Office could operate with

greater commercial freedom for a year before a regulator could be put in

place to oversee its activities.



John Watson, chairman of WWAV, commented: ’The Department of Trade and

Industry - which is supposed to police the Post Office - cannot be an

independent, effective regulator.’



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