A DISTRICT council is taking a step backwards – in an effort to make life cheaper for callers.

Hambleton District Council is phasing out its 0845 1211 555 number - and urging customers to now only call it on its old number - 01609-779977.

The 0845 number was introduced in 2004 to enable residents across the district to call on the local rate.

But with many people now using mobiles and with 0845 numbers not included in many inclusive call allowances, calls are often more expensive to such numbers.

“There are a number of reasons to justify this change,” said the authority’s portfolio holder for customer services, Coun Nigel Knapton.

“But the main reason is we are listening to our customers and making it cheaper for them to contact us.

“In addition new legislation is being implemented in June which states that customers should not be made to pay extra for attempting to rectify problems which are not their fault.”

He added: “Callers should not pay substantial charges to access core public services, particularly for vulnerable or low income groups."