Mail cutback plan sparks fears

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 28/02/2013

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New Zealand Post's proposal to cut its delivery days will severely affect rural communities and provincial people, Tararua District Council says.

At a meeting in Dannevirke yesterday, staff and councillors expressed concern about NZ Post's suggestions to change its minimum service obligation and cut deliveries from six days a week to three.

Chief executive Blair King said the limited broadband services in provincial New Zealand made accessing vital information difficult and therefore Tararua's rural communities relied heavily on the mail service for providing vital connections, communications and getting key supplies.

"Although they're [NZ Post] saying they might not move to it, they just want the flexibility to move to it, our view is it's just a numbers game.

"There will be a move for less runs in the rural area . . . [and that's the wrong move] because the rural area is generating more of an economic benefit for the same volume of letters, that's why we're asking for them to try and hold the status quo and evaluate it."

If the proposed changes - driven by performance measures set by the Government - go through, it would negatively impact rural and provincial New Zealand, he said.

Cr Warren Davidson said posties had an important role in Tararua communities, providing a point of contact for a lot of people.

"They're a central part of the rural infrastructure."

Cr David Roberts said the reduced service option was unacceptable but he could not see a feasible way for the service to be delivered as it was.

"I'd hate for them to turn around in the end and say ‘Well, we can't do any deliveries now', I'd rather see a three- or four-day-a-week service than no service at all."

This is the third time Tararua District Council has recently spoken out against government procedures.

Recent meetings have had staff and councillors voice their displeasure on several issues including the proposed introduction of a consistent national approach to earthquake-prone building assessments, and leaky buildings liability laws.

Tararua Mayor Roly Ellis said there seemed to be an influx of government-pressured changes targeting the provinces and the NZ Post directive was just another example.

"Why should rural New Zealand keep suffering a bit more, a bit more and a bit more?"

Tararua District Council is making a submission to NZ Post on the proposed changes this month.

The deadline for submissions is March 12, with a recommendation to go to the Cabinet after that.

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- Manawatu Standard

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