But escalating door-to-door delivery is yet another example of the destructiveness of bringing competition into a national utility. That was done in the name of choice, price-cutting, investment and efficiency – but wrecking Royal Mail has helped cause traffic congestion and air pollution that no one chose.
Look how bringing pointless competition to utilities has caused an explosion of roadworks with all its extra trucks, as competing companies dig up miles of roads and slow the traffic, which idles at blockages. Although better public transport, congestion charging and congestion itself have cut car-use dramatically in London, traffic speeds are falling – down to 7.5mph in the mornings and predicted to reach walking speed soon unless there is change. Steep road pricing would force more consolidation of journeys and deliveries.
At privatisation, utilities were given a statutory freedom to dig up roads, with little regulation. Under Tottenham Court Road, for example, 80 different utility companies have their lines and pipes, digging up more or less at will. They refuse to share space or facilities with competitors.
Bus deregulation has also been a disaster. Competition meant 250 buses an hour in the toxic air of Oxford Street, until Sadiq Khan got a grip. But elsewhere in the country bus deregulation sees absurd competition for popular routes and bus-deserts in less profitable ones.
It’s almost as if choice, lower prices, more accountability, greater efficiency and so on count for nothing in Polly’s World.