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Our Man in Westminster: It’s time for unfair delivery fees to be shown the door

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Delivery charges continue to be a big issue.
Delivery charges continue to be a big issue.

IT would be fair to say that one of the most ever-present issues raised with me over the years is unfair delivery charges to the Highlands, writes MP Drew Hendry.

Often, even some items small enough to fit through a letterbox come with eye-watering surcharges. Other times, delivery is refused altogether purely because of our postcode.

Over the years, I’ve worked with my MSP colleague Richard Lochhead to tackle this frustrating issue. We have won some big battles resulting in changes from significant players like eBay and Amazon, and other large retailers. There have also been good initiatives by local companies to help residents avoid paying surcharges. Meanwhile, Highland Council’s trading standards team has been at the forefront of national efforts to end these practices.

It has long been clear that to fix this issue we need legislation like the bill I brought forward at Westminster to put in place a fair delivery guarantee.

Frustratingly, the UK government refused to give this bill support. Despite meeting after meeting, question after question, debate after debate, they continue to ignore the issue of unfair delivery charges. For us all, this means the ongoing headache of facing paying ridiculous surcharges when shopping online.

Recently, I’ve been alerted to a new bit of sharp practice, this time affecting those sending parcels. Some senders, even in Inverness, are being hit with a rural surcharge for sending goods. This extra cost burden is the last thing we all need, especially the many small and micro-businesses trying to rebuild out of the pandemic while grappling with additional cost burdens due to Brexit.

This new trend where some large couriers are charging a surcharge to return parcels from the Highlands is a disgraceful tactic. I am already taking up this issue with these companies and I will keep readers updated on how this progresses.

MP Drew Hendry.
MP Drew Hendry.

In more positive news, I am sure you will have seen the excellent progress updates reported by this paper on our new NHS elective surgery unit currently under construction at the campus.

This £200 million investment will be transformational for our communities and our local healthcare provisions – it is great to see the building starting to take shape.

Then there is the new active travel expressway, which will enable more people to cycle and walk safely and contribute to healthy outcomes while reducing carbon emissions. The delivery of these projects is something we can all welcome.

- Drew Hendry is SNP MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.

Related news: Our Man in Westminster: Highland Council's budget is the 'best of local politics'

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