Local councils reveal quirky call centre queries

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Telephone keypad
Image caption,
The calls are a change from council tax and bin collection enquiries

A query about registering the death of a person who was still alive was just one of the quirky calls received by council call centres last year.

The inquiry to Surrey County Council was among 50m calls to local authority customer services each year.

Another to Northumberland County Council asked where its pest control officers bought their rifles.

The Local Government Association said the wide range of calls showed how important councils were to communities.

One caller to East Dorset District Council's Tourist Information Centre wanted an explanation of the plot of the 18th century play She Stoops to Conquer.

Another bizarre call in Surrey was from someone who asked if he was allowed to roll up a zebra crossing.

'Ready for anything'

A German man went to a council customer services reception desk in Northumberland to claim political asylum.

A motorist called Sutton Council to ask if a car park was haunted - after she thought her vehicle was in a different place from where she left it.

Another resident in the borough asked whether he could put a dead fox in a recycling bin.

Local Government Association chairman Baroness Eaton said the 350 councils in England and Wales it represented had to be "ready for anything - from the mundane to the mind-boggling".

"Councils try to help callers with support and advice as much as they possibly can. While the vast majority of calls fall within the bounds of councils' usual responsibilities, there are occasions when call handlers are left baffled," she said.

"The fact that councils are so often the first port of call for residents who are seeking a solution to their problems shows just how central a role councils play in the lives of their communities."

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