BT today reported an urgent situation of a national shortage of telephone numbers.
A BT spokesperson said ‘We have nearly run out of new land line and mobile numbers and are having to make drastic cutbacks. If we go on as we are, we will run out of exchange numbers by this time next week.
The problem is particularly acute in Bournemouth, which has a large elderly population who haven’t got to grips with mobile phone technology, rely on land lines and don’t always hear the phone ringing anyway.
The government has had to introduce telephone rationing books and the public will only be allowed to make one call per day, excluding calls to the emergency services and to vote on X Factor.
The scarcity of numbers has led to panic buying in some areas of the country and phone shops have reported a brisk trade in the last week.
To offset the crisis, old, unused numbers are being recalled and a special squad of private detectives are being used to track down dormant numbers stored in Swiss bank accounts.
The police have also set up a telephone number amnesty for people wishing to hand in receivers and mobiles, no questions asked.
A helpline number has been set up but the government have asked that people don’t ring it, as it makes the problem worse. .
However, there has been a public outcry, as despite the national shortage, no ban is to be imposed on companies ringing up the public and saying that ‘we just happen to be in your area and are offering a completely free kitchen design service’.
Fred Arkwright of Bury, Lancashire said ‘this is a national disgrace. I blame the bankers, the rioters, the England football team and the bloke at number 27’.
Britain is also suffering from other national shortages as a result of the economic downturn.
The Little Harborough Advertiser in Rutland, where nothing hardly ever happens, has had to cut back to two pages, due to a complete lack of any news at all.
Parliament has also had to reduce to a three day working week: David Cameron admitted that after 1,000 years of passing legislation, there were very few new laws to be made now in the House and he couldn’t think of any new bills worth passing.