About a year ago, I took up the complaints of residents about the cost of telephoning the county council. It could cost 28p + just to get through to the right department when calling to pay a bill.

SCC Leader, Mark Bee, promised to look into the issue for me but said nothing could be done about ditching our expensive 0845 numbers until our call centre service came back in house in June.  I tabled a question to him at full council and he agreed to change the numbers.

As of this week there will be new numbers and peopel will save money.

Mobile_phone_evolutionThe council is changing all of its telephone numbers that are prefixed 0845 to 0345. The remaining seven digits of the telephone numbers will remain exactly the same.

All Freephone numbers starting 0800 will also remain unchanged. It includes the telephone numbers for people wanting to apply for a school place for their child, reporting a pothole or road defect and the Families Information Service.

A call to a 0345 number costs no more than a geographical number (i.e. 01284, 01787 and 01473). SCC handles around 200,000 calls per year via 0845 numbers.

My colleague, Jenny Antill, SCC’s cabinet member for resource management, said: “I am committed to making it as cheap as possible for customers to contact us. Calls to 0345 numbers from landlines and mobiles are included in free call packages. Therefore, for all those customers calling the council on these numbers, it will mean that they do not incur any additional costs. 0845 numbers can be used to generate income – which the county council has never chosen to do.  Some customers were, however, concerned by this even being an option. We have listened to these concerns and, as a result, we are making the change.”