Sell-off will not deliver
I FIND it disappointing that Gloucester's MP is so much in favour of flogging off Royal Mail. His explanation of why he supports privatisation, published in this newspaper, was eloquent, but long on logic and short on common sense.
I don't doubt that Richard Graham truly believes the privatisation of our postal service will be beneficial and result in a better service for everyone. But I simply don't believe it.
Richard says Ofcom will continue to regulate the prices of stamps on mail and parcels. Ah, it's good to know the old toothless tiger will be fighting our corner.
He also tells us that 'Royal Mail's competitors can track your parcel at any time: Royal Mail can't'. But there's no mention of what will happen with your letters.
Richard quite correctly states that the Government has already laid out conditions to ensure that the name of Royal Mail, our Queen's head on stamps and the red boxes will stay. Why wouldn't they? It would hardly be cost-effective for a private company to replace perfectly serviceable and well-located post boxes.
Richard also offered us some shining examples of flourishing private companies: "When I look at Jaguar, Land Rover, Rolls Royce, British Aerospace, British Airways and Severn Trent, I see businesses far better than they were".
The first four aren't the best examples to use in the current economic climate, but I suppose they sprang to mind because Richard's boss is constantly using their products and services. As for Severn Trent, it took ST three weeks to repair a small leak outside a house in Stroud Road earlier this year.
No doubt a private postal company will whiz your parcels to you in record time, as well as speeding business post on its way, because that's where the profit is, not through any fear of Ofcom.
Richard will have a hard time convincing me that a private company is going to continue delivering to every door, especially in remote or rural areas. Are we seriously expected to believe that a private company will send a van all the way to, say, Arlingham, with a couple of leccy bills and a birthday card? I'm afraid collecting your own mail will become the norm.
Will Ofcom persuade a private postal company to continue charging 60p to take an envelope from Land's End to John O'Groats? No. We'll end up paying more, for less.
I'VE never understood how it is that plants carefully chosen from garden centres by the blossoming Mrs Kirby manage to wither and die as soon as I get anywhere near them.
Some of the things I put carefully into the ground are brown bread before I have time to reach for the watering can. It seems so unfair when clumps of 'Hardy Brickwallium' are quite happy to grow out of buildings all over Gloucester.
For example, the healthy specimen pictured is sprouting from the top of The New County Hotel in Southgate Street with no help from anyone's fingers, green or otherwise.
One of the best-loved moments in Fawlty Towers is when Basil snaps at the stroppy old lady: 'May I ask what you expect to see out of a Torquay hotel window? Sydney Opera House? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon…?'
In Gloucester, you can see the hanging gardens of Southgate Street.