October 05, 2009 | Jim Killock

Royal Mail: closing job search over data dispute while sacking workers

Sometimes the reasons why we need more open data regimes slap you in the face. This is one of those occassions, as the Royal Mail, who are looking to slim down their workforce of 121,000 postal workers, sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter to Ernest Marples, the campaign providing post code data to new online services

One of the services that has closed is Job Centre Pro Plus, which allowed users to find jobs near them through a post code search. It is particularly galling that Royal Mail are simultaneously trying to make people redundant, and closing a service which could help their ex-workers get a new job.

Other services provided made planning applications near you easier to find, and identified political leaflets sent near you. All were developed in the knowledge that they could be closed, but had proved very useful even in the few months they were running. Planning Alerts had gained 6,000 users.

These services would have to pay around £4000 a year to use post code data legally; which raises Royal Mail around £1.3m a year. It is easy to see that large numbers of small business ideas and not for profit services are being blocked by these license fees – it is in effect a tax on innovation.

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