Peacock Hails Postcode Campaign Victory

Video link to Morvern campaign: http://morvern.blip.tv/

Parliament Petitions Committee Focussed Minds

Highlands and Islands MSP, Peter Peacock has welcomed confirmation that Royal Mail is about to change the Morvern postcode after a campaign to the Scottish Parliament demanded that change.

The MSP, with local campaigner Douglas Watt on behalf of the local Community Council, raised the profile for a change of postcode which currently identifies Morvern as being Oban.

This results in people and goods being often misdirected to Oban itself.

The campaign took its case the Scottish Parliament where Peter Peacock backed the case and set out for the Petitions Committee many of the problems which result from the current post code (see speech below).

Peter Peacock has now had confirmation that Royal Mail has advised the Petitions Committee of the Parliament that they are preparing to change the Morvern postcode.

Peter Peacock said, "I am delighted that, following a recent review, Royal Mail now proposes to change the Morvern postcode.

"The change will mean Morvern residents will have a postcode which indicates where they actually are, not lead people to believe they are in Oban many miles and a couple of ferry journey’s away.

"I have been in regular touch with Royal Mail and I met with them again late last week when they confirmed they were taking the case made by the local community seriously and had found a way to meet their operational needs while meeting many of the concerns of the local community.

"The proposed change they will bring forward will see mail delivered by the current route, but with a new postcode.

"The new postcode means that there will be improvements in the certainty of mail being delivered on time to Morvern, but will also show Morvern as a distinct community.

"This is very important because postcodes today have a huge number of uses and are vital for the delivery of a whole range of services, not just mail.

"Morvern residents have suffered real difficulties through their postcode indicating they are in Oban and I hope these difficulties will now come to and end.

"I have no doubt the petition to the Parliament, which I helped organise and spoke in favour of, was instrumental in helping focus minds and I am very grateful for the support of local people, who indicated the strength of local feeling, and for the support the Petitions Committee gave.

"The petitions process of the Scottish Parliament is unique worldwide and has become a powerful and effective process for Scots wanting to raise issues of concern.

"I was very pleased to help the community in Morvern use that vehicle to such good effect in this instance.

"This campaign has been going on for many years, and getting this breakthrough is a very significant development for the better.

"I pay tribute to Douglas Watt and the Morvern Community Council and many other residents of Morvern who, over the years, have written to Royal Mail expressing their frustration.

"It looks like their persistence has paid off."

"During the campaign, Peter Peacock made a short video featuring local people and making the case for change which he gave to all members of the Petitions Committee to back the case being made to them.

"He also wrote to residents in Morvern inviting them to support the petition to Parliament and received very strong support from local people."

 

Speech by Peter Peacock to the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee

Peter Peacock : Aye. Perhaps I will speak to you privately about how to access the technology.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to the petition, which I fully support.

A completely absurd situation, which looks as if it started with an administration error at some point in history, has developed.

Morvern has been left classified as being Oban, although it is not adjacent to, contiguous with, coterminous with or adjoined to Oban in any particular way.

The Convener: I would never have understood those four terms, but I have colleagues here to help me.

Peter Peacock: Oban is not even the nearest significant town to Morvern—another service centre can be accessed more readily.

A person can get from Oban to Morvern by a 120-mile road journey that is not straightforward, by a 73-mile road journey plus a short ferry crossing at Corran, just south of Fort William, or they can take the ferry from Oban to Mull, drive through Mull and take a second ferry to Lochaline.

All those journeys will take a person through completely different postcode zones just to arrive back in Oban, although it is not Oban—it is Morvern, which has the same postcode as Oban.

The key question is whether the matter is of any practical consequence.

The Royal Mail contends that it uses postcodes simply to organise mail deliveries and that, from its point of view, they have no other implications.

I understand that, but the reality in modern life is that there are practical consequences for the community, which the petition clearly sets out.

I will not labour what those consequences are, but I will highlight one or two of them.

Supplies are misrouted. Often, couriers do not reach Morvern—they end up in Oban and think that they are close to Morvern, but then they discover that they are not close.

That means that packages, parcels, white goods and whatever else are left in Oban in the hope that somebody will pick them up there.

Goods might be received several days late.

If they are perishable products, that means that they are of no value.

When a service engineer coming to service a gas boiler, fridge or washing machine phones to say, "I’ll be with you shortly—I’m just 20 miles from Oban," people know that he will not arrive for a day or so, or that his chance of arriving at all is diminished.

The postcode may have implications for emergency services.

Where emergency vehicles set off from to respond to an emergency is critical.

If NHS 24 advises people to visit a hospital that is not local, that also has implications.

The emergency services have taken steps to adjust for the situation and local people have become aware of the pitfalls of making such calls, but visitors to the area—it attracts tourists—are not aware of those pitfalls.

That is why the local general practitioner has had to advise people who are making such calls about where they are and are not, which sounds ridiculous.

People have raised with me and other representatives the question of identity.

People feel strongly that Morvern is not Oban—it is nowhere near.

The equivalent is saying that Glasgow is Dumfries, Aberdeen is Dingwall or Dalkeith is Perth—the distances are comparable.

The petition has strong local support. Dr Douglas Watt, who is the petitioner on Morvern community council’s behalf, conducted a survey that had a 40 per cent response rate and in which 90 per cent of respondents supported the position that is set out in the petition, as does the community council, which asked Dr Watt to pursue the issue on its behalf.

Royal Mail is a big and sophisticated organisation.

It is perfectly capable of sorting the situation if it chooses to.

A change would have logistical consequences for mail delivery, but they are perfectly capable of being sorted.

I understand from the Scottish Parliament information centre briefing for the committee that "Royal Mail is currently looking at the ... issue again".

I hope that the committee’s attention to the petition will encourage Royal Mail to keep considering the matter and I hope that the committee will encourage Royal Mail to look at the issue positively.

The petitioner referred to other communities in Scotland that are affected by a misleading postcode, but my concern is purely about Morvern, whose case is acute and which has special geographic circumstances that set it apart from other situations.

I hope that the committee will take the petition seriously and pursue action that helps to concentrate minds.

 

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