The following article was originally published in The Inverness Courier on 11 November 2022
Receiving letters and parcels before midday has been the expectation for many up and down the country for generations.
However, the Royal Mail’s restructuring plans are set to drastically change delivery times altogether.
The company now wants posties to start their working day later and therefore finish later. Royal Mail’s reasoning for this change is that it will help them adjust to online shopping habits and to meet next day delivery promises.
For those living in towns this change might only be a small adjustment, as homes and businesses see their post pushed back from a morning to a lunchtime delivery.
The change is starker for some of our remote rural communities though. At the moment, post is delivered on a typical day from around 2pm onwards, but under the new plans posties may still be delivering at 5pm.
I seriously question if this approach is the right direction, as it means some communities will not receive their letters or parcels until the close of the working day.
The change in working hours also places extra pressures on our posties who will be delivering mail into the evening. As the darker winter nights roll in and driving conditions on country roads become more hazardous, it’s no wonder that our posties have deep concerns.
As the industrial action between Royal Mail and the CWU union continues, I encourage both sides to find a way back to the negotiating table. It is vital that the Royal Mail ensure that deliveries to remote rural areas happen at reasonable hours. Anything less is unacceptable.
It’s not just the Royal Mail who are looking to push back delivery times; the Scottish Government are delaying the delivery of essential infrastructure projects to the Highlands too.
The dualling of the A9 and A96 were promised to the region over 11 years ago and - just like the new Inverness Prison and rural broadband – progress on completing these projects has been far too slow.
This is not just frustrating for Highland motorists. The lack of modernisation on these main trunk roads is life-threatening, contributing to fatal and tragic road accidents.
Improving safety on these routes is critical. As someone who has campaigned for the A9 and A96 to be fully dualled, I therefore welcome Fergus Ewing MSP’s recent calls on his SNP colleagues to deliver these projects as promised.
If only he had made the same public calls in Parliament when he was a Cabinet Secretary, we may have seen far more progress on the dualling projects.
Better late than never though – and the same sentiment applies to the full delivery of a modernised A9 and A96, which I will continue to campaign for.