More than 150,000 telephone lines in Southend are under threat tonight after Basildon government officials announced that they intend to launch a bid to buy the 01702 dialling code from BT – a move that would make every existing 01702 number stop working immediately.

A survey of all Basildon residents and business owners has shown that 94% of all landline users are incredibly unhappy with their existing 01268 prefix, with the majority of these people indicating that it is a bit dull.

Barry Peckscratch owns a video rental store in Pitsea, and he is backing the campaign. He said, ‘I noticed that from the early 2000’s, hardly anyone was calling my store to find out about the VHS video titles that we have in stock. I am convinced that this happened because 01268 just isn’t fashionable anymore, yet all of my friends with mobile phone accessory shops in Southend tell me that things have never been better. I am delighted that the local council is taking notice and standing up for Basildon!’

As BT is now a private company, there is nothing to stop Basildon chiefs making an attractive offer to buy any dialling code that they wish. Professor David Pulse-Tone is in charge of the Digitonomics department at the University of Essex, and he explained to Southend News Network that 01702 is the best possible combination of numbers for a dialling code.

He said, ‘Every day, hundreds of thousands of phone calls are received on landlines in the Southend area, and this is mainly because 01702 can be dialled without having to use the right-hand side of a telephone keypad – 01268 makes your fingers move all over the place! 01277 can seem a little intimidating to potential customers, and 01245 is just plain silly.’

Southend telephone bosses are monitoring the situation closely, and a council source has already confirmed that they are prepared to respond by withdrawing Basildon’s access to the ‘SS’ postcode.



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