Postcode change could mean Biggar savings

WHAT’S in a postcode? For the people of Biggar, hundreds of pounds of savings on their insurance, according to an MSP who is encouraging his constituents to get out of Lanarkshire - in a postal sense at least.

Residents are being encouraged to take part in a ballot to change their postcode.

David Mundell, Tory MSP for the South of Scotland, has written to his constituents in Biggar, on the edge of the Borders, suggesting they could hold a referendum to alter their postcode from Lanarkshire to Dumfries and Galloway.

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Such a move could save some constituents as much as 300 on car insurance because insurers associate Lanarkshire with parts of Glasgow and a higher rate of crime, according to Mr Mundell.

Residents in the area currently have their post directed through Glasgow rather than Edinburgh, despite being closer geographically to the Scottish capital.

Hoteliers claim the Lanarkshire address means a lot of potential tourists have the wrong impression of where Biggar and places around it actually are.

Mr Mundell said: "At present my constituents have a postcode of ML12, which is for Mid-Lanarkshire, but I have written to them suggesting it could be changed by having a postal ballot for DG16, which is Dumfries and Galloway.

"As long as the change did not affect the quality of the postal service, then the move could be beneficial from an insurance perspective. I have heard the example of a constituent whose car insurance cost an extra 300 because of moving to a Lanarkshire postcode.

"As Lanarkshire creeps into the Rutherglen part of Glasgow, some insurers raise their charges despite the fact that many of my constituents live in the rural Borders."

Local residents said they would offer their support for a move to alter their postcode.

Maureen Thornborrow, 44, a worker at Broughton Stores in Broughton, said: "This issue has been kicking around for the last two or three years and I think that those of us who received a letter from David Mundell would support his idea of a referendum on changing the postcode.

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"We are right in the Borders so a Dumfries and Galloway postcode might be more appropriate for us, as well as helping local business, such as our shop. As long as it was not too much hassle, it would be worth doing."

Susan Bell, 47, who runs the Crook Inn at Tweedsmuir, added: "I think it’s a great idea as we are on the edge of the Scottish Borders, but with a Lanarkshire address we lose a lot of potential trade because people get the wrong idea of exactly where we are located. We also get a lot of frustrated delivery men arriving from Glasgow when Edinburgh is much nearer for them. Changing the postcode would solve both problems."

But a spokeswoman for the Royal Mail in Scotland said that even if a postal ballot did take place, it might be unlikely to herald a postcode change.

She said: "Since new regulations came in in 2002 there has been no example of a postcode being changed in such a manner. The first two letters of any postcode are to ensure the most efficient routing of post so it would be unlikely to change. A ballot would need to get 50 per cent of its replies within a 28-day period to make it valid."

Karen Gillon, the Labour MSP for Clydesdale, said people should be proud to live and work in Lanarkshire.

She said: "I’m not sure that we should be looking to score cheap political points on this, but should instead educate insurers on living in Biggar.

"Biggar is a lovely place and I think that residents should be proud to come from Lanarkshire."