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Convener's Concern at Withdrawal of Highland Postbus

17th March 2009

The Convener of The Highland Council Councillor Sandy Park has expressed his deep concerns at the recent decision by Royal Mail to withdraw five of the seven postbus services which serve some of the most remote and fragile areas within the Highlands.

In a letter to Adam Crozier, Chief Executive, of the Royal Mail Group, Councillor Park says the post buses, which have served these areas for many years, are excellent examples of shared services, and provide a joint solution for mail delivery and local transport in some of our most remote areas.

Councillor Park said: "The Royal Mail wrote to the Council in October 2008 seeking additional subsidies for operating these services. Whilst recognising that operating costs have increased, my officials requested a meeting to explore the options for minimising these increases by making adjustments to services. Similar discussions took place in relation to the Tongue to Lairg route a number of years ago, with a successful outcome.

"Unfortunately there has been a lack of engagement from the Royal Mail, and despite requests for meetings to discuss this important issue, the Royal Mail has now advised the Council that five of the seven postbus services are to be withdrawn on 16 April 2009.

"Given the importance of these services to the communities they serve I would ask, in the strongest terms, that you reconsider your decision to withdraw the five postbus services, at least on a temporary basis, to allow time for meaningful discussions between our respective officials."

Royal Mail has given notice that the following five services will cease on 16 April. They are Thurso - Tongue; Bettyhill - Thurso; Diabeg - Achnasheen; Applecross - Torridon and Shieldaig - Strathcarron

The two services which are being retained are Tongue - Lairg and Drumbeg - Lochinver - Lairg.

A report on the matter will be considered by the Council's Transport Environmental and Community Services Committee on Thursday.

It recommends that TEC Services should consult with local communities on the longer term transport solutions for the areas.

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