COUNCIL Labour leader Kate Hollern and her Lib Dem counterpart David Foster have joined forces to call for an end to Blackburn with Darwen Council using premium rate phone numbers for enquiries.

At a meeting of the borough’s executive board, Coun Foster asked finance chief Andy Kay which services used 0845 or 0844 premium rate numbers and whether they were being phased out. Coun Kay said the council used no 0844 numbers and four 0845 non-geographic numbers for council tax and benefits, parking, automated payments, cemeteries and burials.

He added: “These are used primarily for resilience as alternative local numbers can be re-routed.”

He said no decision had been made on their future but said the council was looking at moving services to online or telephone rather than face-to-face. He denied 0845 numbers could cost 40p a minute saying it was a maximum of 10p.

Coun Foster said hard-up residents seeking advice should not have to pay excessive charges.

Coun Hollern agreed, saying: “We should be looking to phase them out.”