Ringing the changes

PHONING your neighbour in Langholm or Newcastleton could no longer be a five digit affair, writes Sally Gillespie.

Ofcom says there won’t be enough telephone numbers for the area in the future and, instead of changing numbers completely, it is thinking of asking locals to dial the area code (013873) as well as the number to speak to each other.

Newcastleton sub postmaster Jim Rowan says it won’t be a real hardship. He told TheSouthern: “It has been handy being able to dial just the five numbers, but as long as they are not changing the area code like last time when you had to start changing numbers and tell everyone, it will be fine.

“When you use a mobile you have to dial the area code anyway.”

And he thought people would remember to use the full number fairly quickly, should the planned change go ahead sometime between 2012 and 2015.

Local MSP John Lamont said: “This suggests that Newcastleton and Langholm will be one of the first areas in Britain to see changes in the way residents call one another.

“It is good news in that Ofcom has decided not to overhaul area codes completely, as they did in London 10 years ago.

“ This means that businesses and residents do not have to get stationery and advertising reprinted, which would have caused a great deal of inconvenience.”

And he urged the communications regulator to make sure local residents and businesses are made aware early about the change through an information exercise.