Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex E


  The prices of most Ordnance Survey consumer maps were increased in November 2001. Whilst most of the price rises are quite small, the cost of maps in the 1:25,000 Explorer series has risen by £1.24 to £6.99.

  Each Explorer map covers an area equivalent to three old maps in the Pathfinder series. In their Pathfinder form, the same area coverage would cost map-buyers 3*£4.50 = £13.50. In addition, the new Explorer maps are created to a higher specification with increased levels of detail.

  Over half of the maps in the Explorer series are not profitable for Ordnance Survey; some of them sell only a few copies a year. However, we believe it important that the national mapping agency is able to offer nation-wide mapping coverage at 1:25,000 scale to satisfy both leisure and business users and to fulfil our national interest role.

  Other map publishers are more selective in the areas they cover, basing their decisions to produce maps solely on commercial reasons. Ordnance Survey however has a responsibility for the whole of Great Britain and works with retail outlets to encourage them to stock as wide a coverage as possible. There is increasing competition for shelf space as well as pressures on financial return with shelf space being calculated on a weekly basis. Our price rises reflect retailer feedback.

  Ordnance Survey and the retailers believe that Explorer and Landranger maps should be available at a consistent price nationally, rather than charging higher prices for maps in remote areas and lower prices for the more popular titles. However, to maintain this policy, Ordnance Survey needs to close the gap between production costs and income to more realistic levels. As the business continues to do this, it is also important to ensure that retailers continue to receive a reasonable profit margin, otherwise they will have no incentive to stock Ordnance Survey maps, so reducing their current widespread availability.

  Ordnance Survey is committed to offering high quality, detailed information appropriate for each scale of mapping; this will become even more important in the years ahead when the new access to the countryside legislation takes effect.

  The new price structure for paper maps reflects the amount of surveying and cartographic information supplied to the user. For example, the most detailed maps in our leisure range—the 1:25,000 scale Explorer and Outdoor Leisure titles—cost £6.99, the 1:50,000 Landranger sheets cost £5.99, and the 1:250,000 regional Road maps are £3.99.

  This price structure reflects the time and effort put in to each type of map and the amount of information supplied to the user. Such a structure ensures fair and consistent pricing and genuine value for money for different products in relation to each other across the full range.

  The cost of keeping our maps up to date, improving the detail on them, and increasing the frequency of new editions requires investment into the business. Further improvements are planned for 2002 following careful analysis of comments received from existing map users.

  For example, walkers are keen to see speedier updating of underlying landscape detail on Explorer maps, such as changes to field walls and fences. Ordnance Survey has accepted this point and is currently embarking on a major investment programme to directly link the production process for both Explorer and Landranger maps to our large-scale mapping database. This will provide our cartographers with the means to digitally import the very latest landscape information into Explorer and Landranger maps as each sheet comes up for revision.

  We have listened carefully to what our customers say, and are acting to make the necessary investments. To support us in this activity and to ensure that retailers continue to stock paper maps from Ordnance Survey, customers must pay a fair price for our maps to help us maintain the quality, consistency and national coverage of the range.

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