Photo: Successful Birkdale Lib Dem Cllr Simon Shaw
A campaign started by the local Citizens Advice Bureau back in 2009 asking for Sefton Council to consider cheaper alternatives to its 0845 140 0845 ‘Sefton Plus’ number has finally paid off.
As part of a national CAB campaign to reduce the cost of contacting local and national government via a mobile phone, Sefton CAB wrote to local councillors requesting support for a switch to one of the then new, and cheaper to phone, ‘03’ numbers.
Birkdale Lib Dem Cllr Simon Shaw has been a strong supporter for the change, both then and since. In 2009 the Conservative Cabinet Member responsible, Cllr Paula Parry, declined the CAB’s request claiming that it would cost Sefton Council nearly £30,000 a year to receive calls to an ‘03’ number.
Councillor Shaw explains: “Even though they turned down the 0345 suggestion I was successful in getting the Council to promote the ‘old’ geographic Council numbers of 01704 533133 and 0151 922 4040, which still got people through to the Sefton Plus Call Centre. For many people calls to those numbers were inclusive on their monthly rental, so effectively ‘free’.”
Norwood Cllr Marianne Welsh also joined the long running campaign on her election to the Council in 2011, and in one of her first actions as a councillor managed to get a change of heart by the Council over a plan to drop the 533133 number.
However the cost of 0845 calls became even more expensive last July when Ofcom introduced new rules – to the extent that a 10 minute call to Sefton Plus on a PAYG mobile could easily cost over £4.
“Because of that I contacted Sefton Plus management last autumn to ask again if there was any chance to moving to a 0345 number, which had been turned down nearly six years earlier,” added Cllr Shaw.
“I’m therefore delighted that, six years after the CAB asked for it, the Council is now in the process of moving to a new number: 0345 140 0845. This should be a lot cheaper for many residents, whether they are using landlines or mobiles. I’m also pleased that “old”, simple Southport number 533133 will still be in use as well.”
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