MP criticises Royal Mail's postcode takedown
Tom Watson MP has written to the chief executive of Royal Mail Group, Adam Crozier, to complain about the Royal Mail's "heavy handed approach" to the "growing sector of not-for-profit citizen focussed sites". The letter was prompted by the Royal Mail taking legal action against ErnestMarples.com, a site which provided post code information for free and was heavily used by sites such as job hunting site jobcentreproplus.com, local planning notification service planningalerts.com and election information provider the straightchoice.com. These sites, and others, no longer function correctly without the postcode data that ErnestMarples.com provided. Ernest Marples, a conservative politician, was the Postmaster General when the current system of postcodes was introduced in 1959.
The Royal Mail charges companies for access to the UK postcode data. Sites are expected to pay the Royal Mail £4,000 per year for unlimited access to postcode information, an amount that the volunteer non-profit sites cannot afford. The Open Rights Group say the Royal Mail make around £1.3 million per year from these fees and call the fees "a tax on innovation". Tom Watson estimates the income from "the monopoly supply" of the data at around £11 million per year, including the fees paid by the direct-mail industry, and wants to see the Royal Mail come up with a more equitable solution which sees industry paying a fee without placing burdens on the non-profit sector. He plans to bring the matter up in Parliament in the coming weeks.
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